New Delhi: Government on Thursday denied that the names of historic Western intellectuals like Nicolaus Copernicus and Pythagoras had been removed from school text books, terming reports on the issue as "factually incorrect". It also made it clear that there was no proposal under consideration for "cleansing" the text books from foreign influence.
"There were newspaper reports in February 2016 about new Rajasthan textbooks having dropped Western writers. However, the state government has denied this and stated that on the contrary, there are certain chapters where the western intellectuals find expression in the new textbooks," HRD Minister Smriti Irani said in a written reply. Replying to supplementary queries, she said the reports are "factually incorrect".
"This is an answer I have based on communication from the state government. Let me categorically state that the subjects like mathematics and science are universal in nature. And to say that Thomas Edison can be divorced from subject like this would be a great anomaly," she said. She further said that in area like social sciences, historians and intellectuals like Megasthenes and Copernicus — all find a mention in the social science books.
"Infact, for class 7 standard English book, we do have, according to Rajasthan government, even the extracts from Robert Frost's poem 'Stopping by the woods'," she added. Ritabrata Banerjee (CPI-M) asked if the government has excluded Pythagorean Theorem from mathematics text books, to which Irani said: "I recognise that the learned friend has political compulsions to reiterate a falsification."
"I have said this in my answer that mathematics cannot be devoid of theorems like Pythagorus theorem. ...I am reiterating that the theorem cannot be divorced from teaching of mathematics from any classroom, let alone the state of Rajasthan," he added. Banerjee asked if the government also plans to cleanse the text books from foreign influences, Irani said in written reply, "There is no such proposal under consideration of the government." Anil Kumar Sahani (JD-U) asked if names of gurus has been taken out, to which Irani said the state governments have the power to decide their curriculum.
In fact, letters of freedom fighter Ashfaqulla Khan were part of the class 8 textbooks. National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has also come out with additional reading materials on freedom fighters and great personalities.
Taking a jibe, Congress member Bhalchandra Mungekar said it was possible that the name of scientist Newton could be removed from textbooks, judging from the situation where it is being said that plastic surgery existed thousands of years ago in India.
He also sought to know if chapters on M S Golwalker and Veer Savarkar would be added in textbooks. Responding sharply to the reference to Newton, the HRD minister dismissed it saying that "absolutely baseless allegations" and "insinuations" were being made.