'Pythagoras Theorem, Newton's Apple Are Fake News': Karnataka NEP Proposal

Teaching Sanskrit as a third language and introducing Manusmriti find a place in the proposal sent by Karnataka.
The News Minute
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Teaching Sanskrit as a third language and introducing Manusmriti and ancient numeral systems like Bhutasankhya and kaṭapayadi sankhya to all school children in the state find a place in the proposal sent by Karnataka for inclusion in school syllabus under the new National Education Policy (NEP).

While Bhutasamkhya is a method of recording numbers in Sanskrit using common nouns, the kaṭapayadi system of numerical notation for easy remembrance.

Educationists in the state have expressed deep concern over some of the proposals made by the state government. The proposals are part of position papers for inputs sent to the Union Government to be included in the curriculum under the NEP, The Times of India has reported.

Sanskrit As a Mandatory Third Language

One of the key suggestions made in the position paper is the inclusion of Sanskrit as a mandatory third language.

"In the land of thousands of languages, at least three languages must be taught – the regional language, English and another Bhāratiya language, preferably Saṁskṛta," the position paper states.

Saṁskṛta is the language in which the overwhelming majority of Indian knowledge is available, and in addition, a basic knowledge of Saṁskṛta will equip the students to pick up any other language, including foreign languages," it adds.

The proposal also termed the Pythagoras theorem and the apple falling on Newton's head as 'fake news'.

"Encouraging an attitude of questioning and not merely accepting whatever the textbooks (or print/electronic/social media) say as infallible truth, with a clear foundation of how knowledge generation takes place and how fake news such as Pythagoras theorem, apple falling on Newton’s head etc. are created and propagated," reads one of the suggestions in the proposal.

The proposal suggests incorporating mathematical concepts from ancient 'Bharat' while drawing a contrast to the mathematical concepts which have its origins in Europe. It also recommends introducing 'certain sutras' of Vedic mathematics for 'fast mental calculation'.

'Trim Sections of Greek Mathematics Depicting Faces of Pythagoras, Heron'

Another suggestion in the proposal discusses removal of the depiction of the faces of Greek mathematicians Pythagoras and Heron while including examples from Indian geometry.

"It is also recommended that some of the examples given in the textbooks on Bhāratiya geometry can be done outside the classroom, probably in the playground. Sections on Greek mathematics need to be trimmed down, especially the depictions of the faces of “Greek mathematicians” such as Pythagoras, Heron etc," reads the proposal.

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The proposal also mentions incorporating medieval Indian contributions in the field of science. "The textbooks should help our students acquaint, assimilate and appreciate the irrefutable fact that the deep sense of inquiry and analysis is ingrained in our civilization right from the Rig Vedic period which is universally accepted as the world’s oldest and oldest living literature produced by humans on this planet," reads the proposal.

Another suggestion, on similar lines, mentions how calculus originated in medieval India and suggests including more concepts that "communicate to our students such details of our lofty past."

The proposal comes amid a controversy over changes made to school textbooks in Karnataka by the state government in which the removal of lessons on Gandhi, BR Ambedkar and Nehru as well as the inclusion of essays on RSS ideologues KB Hedgewar and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar met with protest.

Educationist Niranjanaradhya termed the changes unscientific and regressive. "Many regressive changes have been recommended in subjects like science and social science. These arguments, based on mythological stories, have been challenged by scholars to be unscientific," says Niranjanaradhya. This is connected to sweeping changes brought in Karnataka's textbooks which caused a controversy recently, he added.

(Published in arrangement with The News Minute.)

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