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Caste ‘correction’

New Delhi, Jan. 1: Certain references to the Nadar community in an NCERT textbook have angered Tamil Nadu politicians, prompting an expert panel to suggest changes.

These leaders, who included chief minister Jayalalithaa, had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the Nadar community had been depicted in a “poor light” in the Class IX social science textbook, India and the Contemporary World-1.

A chapter titled “Clothing: A Social History” says the Nadars were toddy tappers and had migrated to the southern Travancore state in the 19th century to work under Nair landlords.

It says the Travancore state had barred Nadar women from wearing blouses, a ban they could escape only by converting to Christianity.

Virtually all the Tamil Nadu parties have challenged these statements. The Prime Minister’s Office forwarded their complaints to the human resource development ministry, which sent them to the NCERT.

The NCERT’s textbook development committee, the panel that had prepared the book, suggested deletion of the references to Nadars being migrants and toddy tappers. It also recommended certain modifications to the references to the dress code for Nadar women, sources said.

The National Monitoring Committee, headed by academics Mrinal Miri and G.P. Deshpande, will take the final decision. “The textbook development committee has given some positive suggestions. We will meet shortly,” Miri said.

Sources said the monitoring committee was likely to accept the textbook committee’s suggestions.

Human resource development minister M.M. Pallam Raju has written to the leaders of the Tamil Nadu political parties about the textbook committee’s suggestions.