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India: Press release by Committee for Resisting Saffronization of Textbooks, Karnataka - 20 Jan 2015

20 January 2015

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Committee for Resisting Saffronization of Textbooks, Karnataka (CRST)
Eesha Vasyam, 2-10-776, Bejai, Mangalore – 575004. Tel: 91 824 2225652. Email: suresh46bhat[at]gmail.com

Mangaluru
20 January 2015

PRESS STATEMENT

The Bharatiya Janata Party might be out of power in Karnataka, but it does hold the reigns of power at the Centre. Naturally the state unit of the party is now more active and all pervasive than ever before. So when it heard of a new committee being set up by the state government to review the school textbooks (most of which were prepared during its rule) it began employing all sorts of tactics to put obstacles in the way. For instance Mr. Kageri, the erstwhile Minister for Education in Karnataka who was mainly responsible for the communalization of education in our state, stated recently that in Karnataka no complaints have been received regarding saffronization of textbooks (Deccan Herald, 7th Jan 2015). Alleging that the Congress government was trying to revise textbooks for political reasons he said, “...The fact that the new syllabus was worked out during the BJP rule should not become the sole reason for revising it” (The Hindu, 8th Jan). Speaking at a press conference in Shimoga he claimed that there were no mistakes in the curriculum prepared during the BJP rule. He demanded that the government should give proper reasons before carrying out any revision (Shimoga Times, 7th Jan).

Mr. Kageri seems to have found a supporter in the present Governor of Karnataka. Recently during a function at Puttur the Honorable Governor said “There are allegations that the [central] government is saffronizing education..... Saffronization was done in the past, it is being done now, and it will continue in the future too.” (Prajavani Jan 8, 2015). Through his statement that “...There is nothing wrong in teaching the messages of great men like Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Mahavira” he sought to convey an impression that those opposing saffronization of textbooks were against the likes of Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Mahavira.

Apparently the Honorable Governor is grossly mistaken and is under a wrong impression. Those of us who are resisting the saffronization of education would like to record our strong objections to the above statement of the Honorable Governor. At the same time we would also like to make our stand quite clear on the subject of saffronization of textbooks. Right from the beginning of the movement against saffronization of education, it has been made quite clear by us that saffronization or communalization or sectarianization of textbooks meant:

• Preparing textbooks on communally divisive lines.
• Using textbooks for mythification and glorification of Indian history.
• Projecting Indian history only as a record of suffering of Hindu rulers under non-Hindu rulers
• Highlighting Hindu rulers’ battles against non-Hindu rulers
• Continued stereotyping of women, dalits and other minority groups such as Muslims, Christians etc.
• Lack of gender sensitivity.
• Attempts to project a few persons, institutions and ideas in India’s past as greater than those in the rest of the world.
• Co-option and misappropriation of the concepts of NCF 2005 like ‘Construction of Knowledge’, ‘Interrelations Among Disciplines’, ‘Plurality and Local Content’, ‘Integrated Approach’ and ‘Normative Concerns’.

The movement for resisting saffronization of textbooks was started way back in 2012 by several groups like the Committee for Resisting Saffronization of Textbooks based in (CRST) Mangalore, Karnataka Regional Commission for Education (KRCE) Bangalore, Delhi Historians Group and other progressive groups. It was primarily in response to the BJP government’s action of saffronizing primary and secondary school textbooks and was launched with a seminar in Shimoga. This was followed by periodical meetings and a regular correspondence was kept up with the concerned government departments. The anti-saffronization movement has sustained its momentum till today in Karnataka as well as in New Delhi.

During the course of our checking it was found that some of the present textbooks in Karnataka fell into this category and therefore de-saffronization needed to be carried out in order to restore them to the original guidelines prescribed by NCF 2005. In fact, the Committee for Resisting Saffronization of Textbooks and the other progressive groups held a number of press meets and submitted memoranda to the concerned agencies from 2012 till August 2014. All our findings and observations on textbooks were conveyed to the state government as well as various concerned departments. The present state government has, after seeing the merit of our argument, decided to set up a committee to review and rewrite the present textbooks in order to make them fully conform to the NCF 2005. The first meeting of the committee is scheduled for 22nd January, 2015. It has been a long journey since 4th April, 2012, when the movement was launched. We congratulate the state government for having taken the right decision to revisit the school textbooks and would like state that all our previous findings and correspondence can be re-submitted to the new committee if it so desires.

For & On Behalf Of CRST,

Suresh Bhat Bakrabail
(President)