Thursday, February 13, 2014

Karnataka government serious about desaffronizing textbooks

Karnataka government serious about desaffronizing textbooks

Manu Aiyappa, TNN Oct 3, 2013, 05.54AM IST

BANGALORE: The Karnataka government may soon appoint an expert committee to look into allegations of saffronization of textbooks during the previous BJP regime. These include such "facts" in the Class 9 Science textbook that Drona of the Mahabharata was the first test-tube baby.
"I've been reading media reports about it. Now, I plan to take up the issue once I get a copy of the report prepared by an independent agency,'' primary and secondary education minister Kimmane Ratnakar told TOI. He said he'll talk to chief minister Siddaramaiah soon about it and see what best can be done to rid school textbooks of bias.
When contacted, the chief minister said he was aware of textbooks being saffronized during the BJP government's rule. "I'll study how the distortion has taken place and, if need be, will constitute a committee to see how they can be desaffronized,'' he added.
There was a controversy during the BJP government's rule about Govinahaadu, the tale of Punyakoti, where the concluding lines had been changed to give the story a communal flavour. In the original Kannada poem, the tiger leaves the cow without eating it as the latter displays extraordinary honesty and truth. But the Hindi textbook for class eight (2012 academic year) had a different version which the then government was forced to correct.
"There were several other such instances and the BJP government didn't take it up. The saffronization is more glaring in the new textbooks released in 2013. I hope the present Congress government will act at the earliest,'' said Suresh Bhat Bakrabail, head of the Committee for Resisting Saffronization of Textbooks (CRST) in Karnataka.
The one-man committee of academic Francis D'Souza outlined several examples of "saffron tint'' in textbooks from Class V to IX published under the imprint of the Karnataka Textbook Society (KTS).
Findings in report
6 pages describe Chhatrapati Shivaji, that too only for war details. Wadiyars of Mysore get just three pages of explanation Hampi, Belur, Halebid and Pattadakal cited in a chapter on protection historical places; no mention of places of minorities In Tulunadu history, Christians' social service, contribution to industrial and medical fields missing Some Roman Catholic churches in Bangalore wrongly described as built by the British
'Drona was first test-tube baby'
One of the most glaring examples of saffronization was in page numbers 208 and 209 of the Class 9 Science textbook.
After explaining assisted reproductive system under the heading 'Test-tube babies in ancient India' (Chikitsa 1979), it reads: "... Drona of Mahabharatha was the first test-tube baby born 7,500 years ago. One day, Bharadwaja went to the Ganges for a bath, he saw a beautiful Apsara named Ghritachi . He was overcome by desire , causing him to ejaculate. Bharadwaja captured the fluid (sperms) in an earthen pot (drone), from which Drona was born and got his name... "
Francis D'Souza , a research scholar at Kuvempu University, Shimoga, said, "We were under the impression that only History and Hindi textbooks had a communal tint, but were shocked to see that even Science books were not spared. Will such textbooks make any difference between myth and scientific truth? I'm really worried what impact they'll have on young minds."
The CRST report also said: "In the Social Science textbook of Class 9 for 2013, the first chapter titled 'Christianity and Islam' has been presented in one chapter offering 1.5 pages each, whereas the same content in the year 2002 (old text) Christianity and Islam are presented in separate chapters covering three pages each. In page two of the same text, it is projected as if Jesus was popular with the Jewish and that he was arrested by Jewish police . It also erroneously mentions that Jesus died on April 7, Friday 30 A.D., thereby suppressing the fact that AD commenced with Christ.''
GS Mudambadithaya, coordinator , State Textbook Preparation Committee, said: "What's wrong in depicting Hindu leaders and their culture when India is predominantly a Hindu nation? We haven't undermined any other religion. I'm fed up with such criticism.''
As Girish Karnad said in a recent memorandum with 23 other signatories to PM Manmohan Singh and HRD minister M M Pallam Raju, "The issue of saffronization of textbooks is not limited to Karnataka... Setting up a National Commission could provide a useful institutional filter towards competitive, identity-based , vote-bank politics that derides and erodes the very idea of India."

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