“Class 6 textbook of social sciences mentions Hindu-Muslim riots, caste riots… They (the writers) want to create social activists rather than students or learners. Do you think anti-Muslim riots should be taught to class 6 or 7 students? Even in class 12, they shouldn’t be taught,” said Braj Bihari Kumar, the chairman of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR).
Braj Bihari Kumar has been appointed as the chairperson of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) this month, an appointment criticized by a section of scholars who questioned his academic credentials to lead the body. Kumar admires Narendra Modi and is of the belief that he is the ‘best prime minister’ and the ‘worst victim of intolerance’. According to the newly appointed chairman, students learning about such communal and caste-based violence in India, will turn into ‘activists’ and stop being ‘learners’.
According to him the information conveyed through textbooks is not always correct and mostly paints only one side of the story leaving a wrong impression on young minds who are compelled to study the same textbooks for exams.
“Is there a study? You are projecting one thing and not the other. We should have a total picture and study of conflict,” he said.
According to Kumar these books speak extensively about the violence and atrocities against Dalits while similar atrocities against ‘so-called non-Dalits’ are not highlighted with the same urgency.
“People who have written history and social sciences books had their own agenda,” he said
Some textbooks mention the hardships faced by BR Ambedkar as a Dalit. “…But they should also inform students what positive steps Ambedkar himself took, which have an effect on the society. But they won’t,” he said, adding NCERT books were lacking on many counts and need a complete overhaul.
The opposition accused BJP of imposing its ideology and erasing secular thoughts from textbooks. Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Maharashtra which were rules by the BJP ahve witnessed saffronisation education by changing schoolbooks.
“The quality of work is very low. I am going to create an inventory of scholar and research because there are areas where there is massive duplication of work and then we have areas of darkness where hardly any thesis is being done…,” he added.
Kumar is strictly against the idea of such delicate controversial topics being a part of the school curriculum. At an age where growth of a child’s imagination should be the object of focus, teaching them about caste and communal violence will work against it.