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regular-article-logo Sunday, 25 February 2024

Collective effort in jeopardy, drop our names from textbooks: Academicians to NCERT

At the heart of the controversy was the fact that while the changes made as part of the rationalisation exercise were notified, some of the controversial deletions were not mentioned

PTI New Delhi Published 15.06.23, 04:10 PM
Representational image.

Representational image. Shutterstock

Days after political scientists Yogendra Yadav and Suhas Palshikar wrote to the NCERT, asking their names to be dropped from textbooks, 33 academicians, who were part of the Textbook Development Committee (TDC), have written to the council, saying their collective creative effort is in jeopardy.

The academicians have also demanded that their names be dropped from the textbooks.

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The signatories to a letter sent to NCERT Director Dinesh Saklani include Kanti Prasad Bajpai, a former JNU professor who currently serves as the vice dean at the National University, Singapore, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a former vice-chancellor of the Ashoka University, Rajeev Bhargava, a former director of CSDS, Niraja Gopal Jayal, a former JNU professor, Nivedita Menon, a JNU professor, Vipul Mudgal, the head of civil society watchdog Common Cause, K C Suri, a former professor at the University of Hyderabad who is now associated with the Gitam University, and Peter Ronald deSouza, a former director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies.

"Since there are several substantive revisions of the original texts, making them thereby different books, we find it difficult to claim that these are the books we produced and to associate our names with them.... We are now given to believe that this creative collective effort is in jeopardy," the letter read.

"The textbooks were the result of extensive deliberations and collaborations among political scientists from various perspectives and ideological backgrounds and originally intended to impart knowledge about India's freedom struggle, the constitutional framework, the functioning of democracy and key aspects of Indian politics, while also integrating global developments and theoretical principles of political science," it said.

In a letter to the NCERT last week, Yadav and Phalsikar had said a rationalisation exercise has "mutilated" the books beyond recognition and rendered those "academically dysfunctional", and the textbooks that were a source of pride for them earlier have now become a source of embarrassment.

The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT), however, had said the withdrawal of anyone's association is out of question as textbooks at the school level are developed on the basis of knowledge and understanding on a given subject and at no stage, individual authorship is claimed.

The dropping of several topics and portions from NCERT textbooks last month triggered a controversy, with the Opposition blaming the BJP-led Centre for "whitewashing with vengeance".

At the heart of the controversy was the fact that while the changes made as part of the rationalisation exercise were notified, some of the controversial deletions were not mentioned. This led to allegations about a bid to delete these portions surreptitiously.

The NCERT had described the omissions as a possible oversight but refused to undo the deletions, saying they were based on the recommendations of experts. It had also said the textbooks were anyway headed for a revision in 2024, when the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) kicks in. However, it subsequently changed its stand and said "minor changes need not be notified".

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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