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Major victory for Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti

Major victory for Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti

Author: Pramod Kumar
Publication: Organiser
Date: March 2, 2008
URL: http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=226&page=6

NCERT ordered to remove all 75 objectionable passages from textbooks.

"We have won only one battle and three more battles are still to be won. The second battle to be won is against the Hindi textbooks, which are replete with more poisonous text than that in the history books. The hearing on our PIL against the Hindi books is going on in the court and the court has to deliver its verdict soon. Our third battle is against sex education and fourth battle is against Delhi University, which is teaching highly distorted history to college students."

The Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, which has been fighting from streets to the courts against distortion of history by the UPA government, achieved a major success on January 30 when a division bench of Delhi High Court headed by Justice T.S. Thakur, ordered the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) to remove all 75 objectionable paragraphs in its history books before the next academic session.

Talking to Organiser Shri Dina Nath Batra, convener of Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti said they won only one battle and three more battles are still to be won. He said the second battle to be won is against the Hindi textbooks, which are replete with more poisonous text than that in the history books. "The hearing on our PIL against the Hindi books is going on in the court and the court has to deliver its verdict soon. Our third battle is against sex education and fourth battle is against Delhi University, which is teaching highly distorted history to college students. We have launched a signature campaign against it in Delhi University and soon we are going to start an indefinite dharna," he informed.

The Samiti had pointed out 75 objectionable passages in history books in its petition. Four history textbooks by the NCERT were found to contain "factual errors and biased opinion. Objectionable references had been found in Romila Thapar's book prescribed for Class VI and Ram Sharan Sharma's book prescribed for Class XI students. Two other textbooks-by Arjun and Indira Dev for class XI and a book on medieval India by Satish Chandra-also had contained objectionable matter. NCERT in 2005 had decided to remove the remarks from these books. However only 10 such remarks were removed.

The NCERT assured the Court of the measures to remove the "objectionable passages" from History textbooks of Class VI to XII. "All objectionable passages will disappear in the new textbooks from April 1, 2008," the NCERT counsel submitted before the Bench. However, Shri R.P. Bansal, council of the petitioner Shri Dina Nath Batra, expressed his concern on the fact that the old books would continue to be used as reference material by students. "What about those children who have been already taught or those who will use the old books as reference?" Shri Bansal asked. "We cannot stop people from reading the old books. The NCERT is willing to take steps for issuance of new ones," the Bench replied. The NCERT had earlier informed the court that it would remove objectionable passages, including references to Sikh religious leader Guru Gobind Singh, scientist Aryabhatt, Mughal Emperor Akbar, and describing author Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and freedom fighters Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai as militants, from its books.

The bench told the NCERT to ensure that such errors were not repeated. "Students should not be taught lessons containing objectionable passages about leaders and communities," the Bench said. Objectionable passages pointed out by the petitioner stand deleted. The NCERT council submitted that the process of deletion has no doubt taken sometime but w.e.f. 1.4.2008 none of the books being taught in the schools would contain the objectionable passages referred to by the petitioner. He urged that the new curriculum has completely overhauled the text and therefore the chance of any misgivings about the description of any personality or community whether engaged in the freedom struggle or not is totally ruled out.

Shri Bansal, however, submitted that the court could go a step forward to hold an inquiry as to how the said passages were included and which forces had worded for such inclusion. He urged that those guilty of distorting of the true facts and prescribing them as curriculum for the students ought to be identified and suitably punished.

On February 2 last year, the Bench had directed the CBSE not to frame questions on controversial passages in the Board examinations and had observed that 'wrong information about our national leaders and communities should not be communicated to students'. However even after the order, the books still contained the passages. The Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti again approached the court. The division Bench then passed the order that all 75 passages pointed in the petition will not be included in the curriculum from April 1, 2008.

"Some of these passages in our prima facie opinion pass sweeping remarks against some of the recognised and well respected leaders of this country. Similar sweeping statements are there regarding some of the communities like 'Jat'," Chief Justice M.K. Sharma and Justice Hima Kohli had then said. "In view of such sweeping remarks contained in the aforesaid passages, we had made the aforesaid observations that these should not form a part of the lessons being taught to the students and that a curriculum which does not contain such sweeping remarks about the leaders of our country and also regarding any specific community should be prepared. The aim of the education is to impart lessons to the young pupils so that peace, harmony and cooperation is fostered in the society. With that aim in view the aforesaid observations were made by us, which shall be taken notice of by the CBSE so that wrong impression about the national leaders of yesteryears and also about any community or communities is not communicated to the young minds. Since, however, these books containing the aforesaid passages are being replaced by new books on the subject under a new curriculum, we are confident that these objections would be put to rest with the introduction of the new books and there would be no scope of those objections surviving in the new curriculum that is being proposed to be introduced. CBSE shall take notice of the observations made by us. As none is present on behalf of the CBSE today, a copy of this order be served on the counsel for the CBSE to enable him to file a response by way of a short affidavit," they had said.


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