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regular-article-logo Thursday, 23 May 2024

Gujarat riot question in CBSE’s first-term Class XII board exams

The board later tweeted that the question was ‘inappropriate’ and violated its guidelines, and promised ‘strict action’ against those responsible

Basant Kumar Mohanty New Delhi Published 02.12.21, 02:18 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. Shutterstock

Which government was in power during the 2002 “anti-Muslim violence” in Gujarat, the sociology paper in the CBSE’s first-term Class XII board exams asked on Wednesday.

The CBSE later tweeted that the question was “inappropriate” and violated its guidelines, and promised “strict action” against those responsible. But at least one teacher found nothing wrong in such a question being asked.

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With papers now being evaluated at the exam centres immediately after the exam, there was no time to explore options such as scratching the question and awarding universal full marks or grace marks, a board official said. So, whoever answered “BJP” was awarded marks.

“Something may be done later,” the official said.

The question was: “The scale and spread of anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002 took place under which government?” The answer options were (a) Congress (b) BJP (c) Democratic (d) Republican.

Narendra Modi was BJP chief minister of Gujarat when the pogrom took place in February-March 2002.

“A question has been asked in today’s class 12 Sociology Term 1 exam which is inappropriate and in violation of the CBSE guidelines for external subject experts for setting question papers. CBSE acknowledges the error made and will take strict action against the responsible persons,” a tweet by the CBSE said.

However, the NCERT sociology textbook for Class XII that the CBSE has adopted, states: “The unprecedented scale and spread of anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002 took place under a BJP government.”

An expert committee of three or four CBSE sociology teachers would have set the question paper, drawing on a question bank prepared from suggestions sent by their colleagues from across the country.

Asking not to be identified, a CBSE social science teacher said: “In Class X, we teach students about political parties. In the subject of civics, there’s a chapter, ‘Political Parties’, dealing with the ideologies, manifestos and demerits of various political parties.

“We discuss internal democracy in the political parties too. So, such a question may well be asked.”

The chapter “The challenges of cultural diversity” in the NCERT sociology textbook for Class XII, titled Indian Society, says: “To the extent that governments can be held responsible for communal riots, no government or ruling party can claim to be blameless in this regard. In fact, the two most traumatic contemporary instances of communal violence occurred under each of the major political parties.

“The anti-Sikh riots of Delhi in 1984 took place under a Congress regime. The unprecedented scale and spread of anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002 took place under a BJP government.”

The textbook was written between 2006 and 2008 under UPA rule. It was reviewed after the Modi government came to power, but this passage has survived.

The quoted text is from the PDF version of the textbook, accessed from the NCERT website.

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