Jawaharlal Nehru Removed From Class VIII Textbook In Rajasthan: Report

08/05/2016 8:41 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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Bespectacled Mahatma Gandhi, who eventually led India to its independence, laughs with the man who was to be the nation's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, at the All-India Congress committee meeting in Bombay, India, on July 6, 1946. Nehru took office as president of the Congress during the session. Gandhi's philosophy of non-violent resistance, including civil disobedience and fasts, drove India to independence in 1947 after nearly 200 years of British rule. The father of modern India, the Mahatma, which means great soul, was assassinated in 1948 for his tolerance of other religions. (AP Photo/Max Desfor)

Update: On Sunday, Rajasthan Education Minister Vasudev Devnani pointed that Jawaharlal Nehru's name appears on page 91 and page 177 of the Class VIII Social Studies textbook. The Indian Express has pointed out that these references are not about Nehru's role in the freedom struggle or him being India's first Prime Minister.

NEW DELHI -- Students of Class VIII in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Rajasthan will no longer learn that Jawaharlal Nehru was India's first Prime Minister, and they won't be taught that Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist, assassinated Mahatma Gandhi.

The Indian Express reported today that neither Nehru nor Godse find mention in the Social Studies textbook for Class VIII in Rajasthan after some "curriculum re-structuring" by the State Institute of Education Research and Training based in Udaipur.

Bolstered by the BJP ascent to the Centre in May, 2014, the state government in Rajasthan, which came to power in December 2013, has been altering the school syllabus to bring it in line with the party's Hindutva ideology, and to undo what they believe has been Congress Party's monopoly over India's modern history in which members of the Nehru-Gandhi family are excessively glorified.

The Indian Express reported that the Social Studies textbook mentions Mahatma Gandhi, Lala Lajpat Rai, leader of the Indian National Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha, Subhas Chandra Bose, who resigned from the Congress Party and led a liberation army against the British, Veer Savarkar, a Hindu nationalist leader, who coined the term Hindutva, revolutionary heroes Bhagat Singh and Hemu Kalani, and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who Nehru described as the "Father of the Indian Revolution."

But other Indian National Congress leaders, including Sarojini Naidu and Madan Mohan Malaviya, are not mentioned in the history section of the textbook, written by senior teachers and principals from government schools.

Changes to the school syllabus in Rajasthan also reflect what BJP leaders describe as the need for young Indians to take pride in their own culture and heritage. Removing world leaders as well as foreign poets and thinkers from textbooks is part of State Education Minister Vasudev Devnani's agenda of "local to global".

Earlier this year, the BJP government removed the works of Western poets including John Keats, Thomas Hardy, S. Eliot, Edward Lear and William Blake from the Class VIII curriculum, and replaced them with lesser known writers with a more regional flavour. The new poems include My First Visit To The Bank, The Brave Lady of Rajasthan, Chittor, Sangita The Brave Girl and The Glory of Rajasthan.

Last year, the Rajasthan government was planning to remove iconic world leader Nelson Mandela from textbooks because it does not want students to read "meaningless" chapters on historic world figures.

In the Hindi textbook of Class VIII, chapters with Urdu words have also been removed. Meanwhile, Akbar has lost his title "great," which has been transferred to Maharana Pratap, the Hindu ruler of Mewar, who fought long and hard against the occupation of his kingdom by the Mughal ruler.

Denying knowledge of the omission on Nehru, Devnani said that it was the decision of an "autonomous body." “The government and I have nothing to do with it. I am yet to see the new textbooks. The syllabus is created by an autonomous body and the government does not interfere in it at all," he told The Indian Express.

“This is taking saffronisation to the next level," Sachin Pilot, the Congress Party's president in Rajasthan, told the newspaper.

In an interview with The Indian Express, last year, Devnani said that he doesn't see the point of students till the eighth grade learning about the world. "They should first know about Rajasthan, then about India and in higher classes they can learn about the world,” he said.

Devnani wants to instill a feeling of patriotism in students so that "no one like Kanhaiya Kumar is born."

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