Pinaryai Vijayan, Kerala CM

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (centre) unveiled a set of new textbooks.

Kerala challenges NCERT's move, releases comprehensive textbooks reinstating vital topics

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan released four sets of additional textbooks for standard XI and XII including History, Economics, Sociology and Political Science.

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In a move that challenges the NCERT’s decision to “rationalise” higher secondary class textbooks by excluding politically sensitive subjects, the Kerala government has introduced supplementary textbooks through which bring back these very topics.

The new books have been made available through the State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) and align with the CPI(M)-led Left government’s intention to oppose the National Council of Educational Research and Training's (NCERT) deletion of topics critical of the ideology that governs the Modi government.

The history textbook for Class XI is based on three themes: Origin of Humans, Cultural Formation in the Middle Ages, and the Age of Discoveries and Inventions.

The first theme covers the theory of evolution, while the second chapter discusses Arabian and American civilisations of the Middle Ages, referencing Islam’s origin in Arabia and the flourishing of civilisations like Aztec, Mayan and Inca in the American continent before European arrival.

The chapter further delves into the global legacy of Islam. The third theme details the Renaissance, Protestant reformation and geographical explorations and discoveries of the 14th and 15th centuries.

Kerala textbooks

The history textbook for Class XII examines the political and cultural aspects of the sub-continent during the same period through Mughal court chronicles. This period receives detailed attention in a chapter analysing the Mughals’ contribution to India’s cultural diversity.

The second part of this book, titled “A Country Torn Apart”, discusses the partition of India in depth from a balanced and secular perspective. It includes profile studies of Arya Samaj, Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha, and introduces students to the politics of divide and rule by the British and the two-nation theory.

The text states: “The partition of India and the accompanying tragedies were the result of communalism, a vicious menace of modern India that emerged during the colonial period.”

The political science textbook for Class XI delves into two major ideas: peace and development. The first part introduces the caste system, patriarchy, colonialism, racism and communalism as various forms of structural violence. The second part discusses the social costs of development.

Setting things right

The sequel textbook for Class XII includes an introduction and critical evaluation of various projects and movements in India, ranging from the Five-Year Plan to the People’s Planning campaign in Kerala, and from the Chipko movement to the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

Subsequent chapters cover political developments like the national Emergency period of 1975-77 and the Gujarat riots of 2002. The infamous custodial death of Rajan during the Emergency period receives special attention. The section on the Gujarat riots concludes with the statement: “The incident warns us about the dangers of using religious sentiments for political purposes, as it poses a threat to democracy.”

The section on contemporary world politics discusses international relations, spanning from the Cold War to the global war on terror. It critically highlights the “hegemonic status of the USA”.

The economics textbook for Class XI is an introduction to the concept of poverty and discusses it in detail within the Indian context, with a special focus on Kerala. The textbooks cite an array of reference books authored by eminent personalities, from Nobel laureate Amartya Sen to economists Abhijit V. Banerjee and Jean Dreze and political scholar Anand Teltumbde, who was chargesheeted in the Bhima-Koregao case. It covers policies and programme including MGNREGA and the Kudumbasree mission of Kerala.

Dalit assertion

The sociology additional textbook for Class XII presents an in-depth analysis of caste, tribe, and market as social institutions. It uses the life of PK Rosy as an example of social exclusion in Kerala. The text reads: “PK Rosy was the first female actor in Malayalam cinema, playing an upper-caste woman in the film ‘Vigathakumaran’. Instead of recognition, she faced relentless persecution and was eventually forced to leave the state due to her Pulaya community background, considered a scheduled caste.”

Mahatma Ayyankali, the revolutionary Dalit social reformer of Kerala, and Sreedhanya Suresh, the first tribal woman to clear the civil service examination a few years ago, are also covered in the textbook.

Describing the Constitution of India as a comprehensive historic socio-legal document, the textbook emphasizes the core values it encapsulates. It highlights Jawaharlal Nehru’s views on modern India and features Kerala’s transgender policy.

Dr. Jayaprakash RK, Director of the State Council for Educational Research and Training, states in the preface to the books: “The publishing of additional textbooks was necessitated by the omission of pertinent areas from the content in History, Economics, Sociology and Political Science textbooks prescribed for classes XI and XII. The purpose of this additional textbook is primarily to bridge the gap created by the deletion of certain topics and to familiarise students with the values and ideals embedded in what has been removed.”

The additional textbooks were released by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Thiruvananthapuram.

Why new textbooks?

Vijayan stated that it was widely known which groups were responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and the ideologies they upheld. He added that the removal of such sections from textbooks was not simply an act of simplification but carried a political motive.

He accused these reforms of attempting to “whitewash” the individuals and organizations associated with Gandhi’s assassination, expressing concern that these authorities might eventually attempt to glorify the assassin, Nathuram Godse.

“The erasure of Mughal history was a deliberate act to establish the notion that this nation solely belonged to a specific group. Its intention was to implant in the minds of children that other communities were unwelcome. The strategy involves rejecting established social realities to construct a state based on religious principles, and this is the current endeavor. We must exercise great vigilance in response to such actions,” he said.

He cautioned that this effort could alter the way students perceive society and history, endangering a society built upon the principles of secularism and unity.

The additional textbooks are brought out according to the recommendations of the curriculum committee and its sub-committee constituted by the state education department to study the issue after the NCERT withdrew some of the politically sensitive chapters from the textbooks.

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