Thirty-three academicians who were part of the National Council for Educational Research and Training’s Textbook Development Committee on Wednesday asked the education body o remove their names from the political science textbooks, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.
In a letter to NCERT Director Dinesh Prasad Saklani, the academicians said that the recent syllabus “rationalisation” exercise undertaken by the educational body has “jeopardised their creative collective effort.”
The signatories of the letter include Malini Ghose, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Nivedita Menon, Chaitra Redkar, Rajesh Dev, Peter Ronald deSouza, Rajeev Bhargava and Muzaffar Assadi.
The development comes after academician Suhas Palshikar and political scientist Yogendra Yadav on June 8 placed similar demands before Saklani, saying the texts have been “mutilated beyond recognition” in the exercise. Two days later, the NCERT refuted their demand saying there was no question of withdrawing any individual’s name as a member of a textbook development committee.
Among the texts dropped are paragraphs on attempts by Hindu extremists to assassinate Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and the ban imposed on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh after his killing. Last year, the NCERT had also dropped content related to the 2002 Gujarat riots, the Mughal rule in India and the nationwide Emergency imposed in 1975. No NCERT textbook now has any reference to the Gujarat riots.
The NCERT has claimed that the move would “rationalise” textbooks and reduce the workload on students affected by the coronavirus pandemic and either deleted or watered down important details of India’s history.
In Wednesday’s letter, the 33 academicians said that the textbooks were the result of extensive deliberations and collaborations among political scientists from various perspectives and ideological backgrounds, reported The Indian Express.
“NCERT is now making changes to the textbooks,” they said. “These involve deletions of sentences and removal of some sections [even chapters] considered unacceptable with emphasis given to others considered desirable.”
They added: “The decision of who decides what is unacceptable and what is desirable has been kept rather opaque, violating the core principles of transparency and contestation that, we believe, underlies academic knowledge production.”
The academicians expressed their challenge in associating their names with the books they created due to the alterations made to the original texts
“Since there are several substantive revisions of the original texts, making them thereby different books, we find it difficult to claim that these are the books we produced and to associate our names with them,” they said.