The national textbook authority has quietly dropped from school books portions that dealt with Hindu extremism and its role in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the subsequent ban on the RSS and the Father of the Nation’s contribution to communal harmony.
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has lopped off paragraphs from the chapter Challenges of Nation Building from the book Politics in India Since Independence, taught as part of political science to Class XII students, without making any mention in the booklets it has brought out on post-Covid syllabus rationalisation.
The NCERT undertook the rationalisation exercise in 2022 to reduce the content load on children, keeping in view the learning gaps during the pandemic. The NCERT has brought out booklets giving details of paragraph-wise, page-wise and class-wise deletion of content to help students, teachers and parents figure out the dropped parts.
However, some content related to Hindu extremism and Gandhi has been removed without any mention in the booklets.
The latest version of the Class XII political science textbook uploaded online no longer has the following portion in the chapter Mahatma Gandhi’s Sacrifice: “He was particularly disliked by those who wanted Hindus to take revenge or who wanted India to become a country for the Hindus, just as Pakistan was for Muslims. They accused Gandhiji of acting in the interest of Muslims and Pakistan. Gandhiji thought that these people were misguided. He was convinced that any attempt to make India into a country only for the Hindus would destroy India. His steadfast pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity provoked Hindu extremists so much that they made several attempts to assassinate Gandhiji.
“Gandhiji’s death had an almost magical effect on the communal situation in the country. Partition-related anger and violence suddenly subsided. The Government of India cracked down on organisations that were spreading communal hatred. Organisations like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh were banned for some time. Communal politics began to lose its appeal.”
The revised version also removes the part of a sentence that said Gandhi “refused to accept armed protection”.
The page in the revised book, however, has retained the following content on Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s assassin: “Finally on 30thJanuary 1948, one such extremist Nathuram Vinayak Godse walked up to Gandhiji during his evening prayer in Delhi and fired threebullets at him, killing him instantly.”
In the revised version of the history book Themes in Indian History-Part III, the chapter Mahatma Gandhi and the Nationalist Movement drops references to Godse as a “Brahmin from Pune” and “the editor of an extremist Hindu newspaper who had denounced Gandhiji as an appeaser of Muslims”. These changes, too, find no mention in the bulletin on rationalised content.
The Telegraph sent an email and a text message to NCERT director Dinesh Prasad Saklani asking why the content had been dropped. He said content had been deleted “professionally” by subject experts.
“NCERT constituted various expert committees including professors from universities across the country, school teachers and NCERT faculty to examine the content of all the books and find out how the content load may be reduced. All the points raised by you and all others which are being discussed have been amply recommended by the expert committees to be removed. This is done uniformly without any selective approach,” Saklani wrote back, when asked by this newspaper about the deletions.