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NCERT to include Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Beti Bachao in syllabus: Narendra Modi govt on self-promotion overdrive?

Since taking charge, the Narendra Modi government has been attempting to promote its ideology and itself through textbooks. Having faced flak for trying to saffronise the syllabus initially, the Centre is now trying to include the positive aspects of its flagship programmes in textbooks. The Indian Express reported on Thursday that Narendra Modi-led Centre government's pet projects like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Abhiyan, Digital India campaign and demonetisation are likely to be included in NCERT textbooks for the next academic session.

 NCERT to include Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Beti Bachao in syllabus: Narendra Modi govt on self-promotion overdrive?

Representational image. PTI

NCERT, which advises the Centre on school education, is in the final lap of identifying changes to its textbooks. This instance is not the first time when the Modi government has tried to bring in changes in books to glorify its schemes.

The Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education's (RBSE) new Class X and XII textbooks have already conformed to the idea of spreading the importance of central government's schemes by teaching them to children, as The Wire reported.

Some of the questions in the RBSE books are:

Who gave the slogan of sabka saath, sabka vikas?

Name four development programmes of the Modi government

What was the reason behind implementing demonetisation?

During his Nepal visit, how did Modi assure Nepal?

The new plan for NCERT includes updating the mathematics textbooks for primary classes with images of new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes. Demonetisation, in its entirety, will be included in the class 10th textbook, The Indian Express report states.

The guidelines issued by NCERT for state-level exhibition for children and the national-level Jawaharlal Nehru exhibition said in bold letters that recent initiatives by Government of India like Skill India, Smart City, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Digital India, Swachh Bharat are some of the steps to achieve sustainable development.

In Rajasthan, the social science textbooks already include chapters on demonetisation, Make in India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, 2014 General Elections and even the prime minister's foreign visits.

The content of the textbooks were so framed that it left the students with no space to raise questions about the Modi government or its schemes. Professor Rajiv Gupta of Rajasthan University told The Wire that the Vasundhara Raje government started indulging itself in propagating Hindutva ideology through changes in textbooks after Modi won the 16th Lok Sabha election. He further said that the initiatives mentioned in the textbooks highlight only positive aspects, lacking any critical assessment.

The general awareness section in the civil services examination in 2016 focused heavily on Central government schemes, The Hindu reported. The traditional areas of geography, history and polity were ignored to include almost 50 percent questions on government schemes.

Furthering with the agenda of revamping textbooks, historians from Indian Council of Historical Research and elsewhere had perused textbooks in an attempt to "correct the errors" in NCERT textbooks introduced by UPA. They suggested that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's role in history be included in the syllabus.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, the RSS sees rewriting of history as crucial because ideologies legitimise their present on the basis of the past.

The RSS affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, headed by Dinanath Batra, also sent a list of recommendations to NCERT. "Several things (in these books) are baseless, biased. The history of valour, of great personalities like Shivaji, Maharana Pratap, Vivekananda and Subhas Chandra Bose find no place," The Indian Express quoted Atul Kothari, secretary of Nyas, as saying.

Batra had also announced that "NCERT textbooks will be rewritten according to the aim and objects of the nation so that it inculcates feeling of patriotism among children."

This tinkering with textbooks is a major plan that the NDA has been formulating since coming to power. As Firstpost had reported, former HRD minister Smriti Irani opened her account by announcing plans to give a "Hindu perspective" to school curriculum. Irani's attempts were being viewed as an attempt by the government to push through the RSS’ educational revamp agenda.

Modi government's attempts are not surprising or even new. They follow the moves by its predecessors, as The Indian Express reported that rewriting textbooks is an old priority of the Hindu nationalist movement. In the 1990s, the BJP succeeded in changing parts of textbooks in the state they formed a government. After Keshubhai Patel took over as chief minister of Gujarat, in class IX textbooks, Muslims, Christians and Parsis were presented as "foreigners".

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Updated Date: Aug 31, 2017 14:27:58 IST