The BJP government in Rajasthan, it seems is bent on rewriting India’s modern history. The government schools’ class VIII social science textbooks have omitted the name of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru from its pages in its new revised curriculum.
Although state education minister Vasudev Devnani denies such move saying Nehru can be found on page 91 and 177, these pages are mere one-line references on Nehru. The book does not mention Nehru as India’s first prime minister nor gives him credit of being a visionary. Though the book published by Rajya Rajya Pathyapushtak Mandal is not yet available in the market, it has been learnt that Nehru’s visit of Nagaur on Oct 2, 1959 to launch the Panchayati Raj movement, a revolutionary and historical step in the context of new India, also does not find place in the text book. The website. www.rstbraj.in on which the book has been uploaded is currently inaccessible.
The textbook features Mahatma Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose, Vir Sarvakar, Bhagat Singh, Lal Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and other freedom fighters from the Congress but does not mention the name of Nehru. It also does not mention Nathuram Godse, assassinator of Mahatma Gandhi.
In the previous edition of the book, the chapter on National Movement featured Nehru prominently in a box, mentioning him as the first Prime Minister and highlighting his and Sardar Patel’s contribution in the formation of the government.
In the new edition the chapter on National Movement and Post Independence, activists say there is no mention of Nehru. However it mentions Dr Rajendra Prasad as the first President of India.
In another case, in class XI’s chapter on Bharat Mata, which earlier had portions from Nehru’s Discovery of India, has been omitted in the revision. Notable additions however is an essay by former RSS chief K C Sudharshan titled Dhara and Environment.
Meant for use in schools of the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education, the textbook revision has been carried out as part of “curriculum re-structuring” by the State Institute of Education Research and Training (SIERT), Udaipur.
The SIERT panel members however deny that the government had asked them deliberately to exclude any body’s name let alone Nehru.However, they have admitted having been asked to include more information on local heroes and freedom fighters like Maharana Pratap.
Education activists have questioned the government on several counts, asking : “Why is there such a hurry to bring in revised edition of school text books when the last one was done in 2012 and has not even completed five years? Who are the people or institutes involved in revising the texts of these books? Why such a secrecy in the entire process of revising the books as not even the teachers have been provided the copies of these books?”
Kavita Srivastav of PUCL, said : “No competent persons or experts have been consulted while changing of curriculum of these books or have been asked to take a relook into them after the changes.”
Education activists are demanding that the revision in curriculum of these books should be analysed by national–level experts by forming a committee and the name of the experts be put in the public domain. Till then the books introduced in 2012 should be continued in the classes.
Devnani with a staunch RSS background, is said to be behind these revisions. He had recently said in the Assebly that the Rajasthan government was re-designing textbooks to ensure “no Kanhaiya Kumar was born in the state”.
Devnani has announced several measures such as hoisting of national flag in schools, colleges and universities everyday, installing of statues of Swami Vivekananda in all universities and making traditional dress mandatory during convocations, to instill and inculcate nationalistic fervor in children from early age.
There are many BJP leaders who say we have been hearing about Congress leaders for the past 68 years, what is the harm if the government tries to promote nationalistic leaders like Patel, Maharana Pratap, Bhagat Singh.
Meanwhile the opposition Congress is outraged over omission of Nehru from the class VIII text books in Rajasthan. State chief Sachin Pilot said that since BJP has come to power, they have been attempting to change the course of history with a malicious intent. It has been changing the name of Rajiv Gandhi Seva Kendra to Atal Seva Kendra and also several welfare schemes.