education reform

Hindu-Muslim riots, caste conflicts should be excluded from school textbooks, says ICSSR chief

Braj Bihari Kumar said universities like JNU had become a ‘nurturing ground’ for activists.

Indian Council of Social Science Research chief Braj Bihari Kumar has claimed that textbooks today are aimed not an educating students but at creating “activists”, reported PTI on Sunday. Kumar said that subjects such as Hindu-Muslim riots and caste-based conflicts should not be part of the school curriculum.

“Textbooks are not meant for making students activists but for educating them. Unfortunately the books are driven by an agenda today, and there is a need for a curriculum overhaul. Subjects like Hindu-Muslim riots and caste-based conflicts should not form basis of students’ mindset and their grooming,” Kumar said in an interview.

Kumar, an anthropologist who took over as the head of ICSSR in May, also believes that universities like the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi have become a “nurturing ground” for activists. He claimed that caste-based conflicts and intolerance are “fringe phenomena” in India that should not be considered reflective of Indian society.

“Textbooks are in bad shape today. I had found a map in a social science textbook that showed Jammu and Kashmir out of India. There was another one not showing the North East as part of the country. There are several lapses in our textbooks.” he said.

Kumar, who used to edit a journal before becoming the ICCSR chief, had written in an editorial in 2016 that textbooks published by the Centre’s National Council of Educational Research and Training were “driven by political agenda” and are “partly responsible for the increasing social conflicts in society”.

He also claimed he had written two letters to former Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani but did not get any response. Lashing out at “universities like JNU”, Kumar claimed that when a family is massacred in Chhattisgarh, there are celebrations in JNU and a march in praise of the killers.

He further claimed that JNU projects itself to be one of the best universities, but “they can’t claim excellence when they are hurting nationality’s sentiments and becoming a nurturing ground for activists and not a place for education”. “Taxpayers do not pay money for activist-making.”

The ICCSR was established in 1969 by the central government to promote research in social sciences and gives grants to institutions and scholars.

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