Rationalisation row: Suhas Palshikar and Yogendra Yadav dissociate from NCERT textbooks

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NEW DELHI: Dissociating themselves from the political science textbooks of National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT), political scientists Suhas Palshikar and Yogendra Yadav said that the rationalisation “mutilated” the books “beyond recognition” and that they were “never consulted or even informed of these changes. Asking the Council to drop their names as chief advisors from all political science textbooks, the experts on Friday said that “… we feel embarrassed that our names should be mentioned as Chief Advisors to these mutilated and academically dysfunctional textbooks…”
The rationalisation of the syllabus by the NCERT was initiated as a response to the Covid-19 disruption. However, while the changes made as part of the rationalisation exercise were notified, some of the controversial deletions were not mentioned. This led to allegations about a bid to delete these portions surreptitiously. The Council countered the omissions as a possible oversight but refused to undo the deletions, saying they were based on the recommendations of experts. It also said the textbooks are anyway headed for revision in 2024 when the National Curriculum Framework kicks in. However, the NCERT later changed its stand and said “minor changes need not be notified.”
Palshikar and Yadav, who were chief advisors for the original political science books for classes IX to XII, in their letter to the NCERT Director Dinesh Saklani, said: “While the modifications have been justified in the name of rationalisation, we fail to see any pedagogic rationale at work here. We find that the text has been mutilated beyond recognition. There are innumerable and irrational cuts and large deletions without any attempts to fill the gaps created.
“We were never consulted or even informed of these changes. If NCERT did consult other experts for deciding on these cuts and deletions, we explicitly state that we fully disagree with them in this regard.
“Text books cannot and should not be shaped in this blatantly partisan manner and should not quell the spirit of critique and questioning among students of social sciences. These textbooks as they stand now do not serve the purpose of training students of political science both the principles of politics and the broad patterns of political dynamics that have occurred over time.”
Palshikar, an academician and political scientist, and Yadav, political scientist and Swaraj India leader, were chief advisors for the Political Science books for classes IX to XII originally published in 2006-07 based on the 2005 version of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF). Their names are mentioned in a “letter to students” and the list of textbook development team at the beginning of each book.
In their letter, they said: “”Both of us would like to disassociate ourselves from these textbooks and request the NCERT to drop our names….we request you to give effect to this request immediately and ensure that our names are not used in the soft copies of the textbooks available at the NCERT websites and also in the subsequent print editions.”
They said they believe that any text has an internal logic and such “arbitrary cuts and deletions” violate the spirit of the text. The frequent and serial deletions do not seem to have any logic except to please the powers that be, they said.
Deletion of several topics from the textbooks triggered criticism from the opposition which blamed the Centre for “whitewashing with vengeance.”
Among the references dropped from the Class XII history textbook were certain portions on Mahatma Gandhi and how his pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity “provoked Hindu extremists,” and on a ban on the RSS.