A protest from a top Sikh body has prompted the National Council of Educational Research and Training to drop from a Class XII textbook references to some Sikhs’ demand for “secession from India” and the creation of a “Khalistan”.
However, the NCERT has ignored calls to restore content that it had controversially deleted from its textbooks last year — as part of an exercise to lighten the academic load on schoolchildren — on the theory of evolution, Mughals, Jawaharlal Nehru, caste and discrimination, and the ban on the RSS following Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.
The deletions were allegedly made without checking with the original authors of these books. The NCERT has not revealed the reasons for the deletions or details about the process of syllabus “rationalisation”.
A chapter on “Regional Aspirations” in the political science book, Politics in India Since Independence, mentioned a demand by some Akalis for political autonomy for Punjab, reflected through a resolution passed at a conference at Anandpur Sahib in 1973.
“The resolution also spoke of the aspirations of the Sikh qaum (community or nation) and declared its goal as attaining the bolbala (dominance or hegemony) of the Sikhs. The Resolution was a plea for strengthening federalism, but it could be interpreted as a plea for a separate Sikh nation,” the book said.
“The Resolution had a limited appeal among the Sikh masses. A few years later, after the Akali government had been dismissed in 1980, the Akali Dal launched a movement on the question of the distribution of water between Punjab and its neighbouring States. A section of the religious leaders raised the question of autonomous Sikh identity. The more extreme elements started advocating secession from India and the creation of ‘Khalistan’.”
These passages had been in the book since 2007-08.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee recently objected to the references to "separate Sikh nation", "secession from India" and the "creation of Khalistan".
"A committee of experts was constituted by the NCERT to examine the issue," a corrigendum issued on Tuesday by the NCERT said.
According to the committee’s recommendations, the lines "but it could be interpreted as a plea for a separate Sikh nation" and "the more extreme elements started advocating secession from India and the creation of 'Khalistan'" have been deleted.