“Crime Against Youth”: BJP, Congress Clash On Karnataka Textbook Revision

The revisions are being done in the interest of the children’s future, Madhu Bangarappa has said.

New Delhi:

Calling it a “bizarre censoring of Indian history,” Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said the alleged removal of lessons on RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar from school textbooks in Karnataka would be a “crime against youth”. Congress MLC BK Hari Prasad has claimed that the new Karnataka government will not approve the inclusion of chapters on Hedgewar, whom he also slammed as a “coward” and “fake freedom fighter”. The BJP has also hit out at the state government, demanding an apology, saying the Congress is distorting history.

Earlier today, the BJP Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister Madhu Bangarappa said that school books will be revised from this year itself. Old books won’t be recalled, but supplementary textbooks will be sent to school with instructions on what to teach and what to be left out, he said.

Since the academic year started before he took charge, students already have the old textbooks, Mr Bangarappa said, and suggested supplementary reading to aid the transition.

The revisions are being done in the interest of the children’s future, he said, adding that the Congress already committed to it in their pre-election manifesto. Madhu Bangarappa was the Vice Chairman of the manifesto committee. Without getting into details of the revision, he said a “purely technical team” would handle it.

The Congress in its poll manifesto had promised to undo the changes made to school textbooks when the BJP was in power, and had also promised to scrap National Education Policy.

Changes would be minimum to avoid inconveniencing students, the minister stressed.

The Technical Committee has not given any recommendation so far on what is going to be removed or carried forward. Once the Committee makes its recommendations, it will be sent to the Minister, who will put it in the Cabinet for discussion and approval. The entire process will take 10 to 15 days, and Madhu Bangarappa has said he will get things going “as soon as possible”. 

Within days of coming to power in Karnataka, the Congress had said that they will revise school textbooks which had, in turn, been revised by the previous government. Congress says that they will not allow texts and lessons that “poison the minds” of children.

BJP leader CN Ashwath Narayan has said the Congress should take its own time. “They shouldn’t be in a hurry. As a popular government, they should address the concern of all sections of society. Government has to be inclusive,” he said.

Mr Bangarappa had earlier said that they are not doing anything against BJP or RSS, but only for the benefit of children.

BJP national general secretary CT Ravi has termed the book revision move as “intolerance”.

“They (Congress) had used the word intolerance, this shows that they have intolerance against a patriot. They have the right to oppose ideologically, but they don’t have the moral right to question Hedgewar’s patriotism. Lessons on Marx and Mao who are not from this country and were against democracy can be there in the textbook, but lessons on patriots like Hedgewar cannot be there. This is intolerance, let’s see what they will do, and our party will decide what to do,” he has said.

Asserting that the act of “polluting children’s minds through texts and lessons” cannot be condoned, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday had said, “As the academic year has started, we will discuss and take action so that the education of the children is not disturbed.”

There was a textbook controversy during the previous regime, with demands by opposition Congress and some writers for sacking the then textbook review committee chief Rohith Chakratirtha for allegedly “saffronising” school textbooks by including the speech of RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar as a chapter, and omitting chapters on key figures like freedom fighters, social reformers, and the writings of noted literary figures.

There were also allegations of erroneous content on 12th-century social reformer Basavanna and certain factual errors in the textbooks, including accusations of disrespecting ‘Raashtra Kavi’ (national poet) Kuvempu and distortion of the state anthem penned by him. Initially, the allegations were refuted but subsequently, rectifications were made in some cases.

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