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A chapter in the social science subject for class 10 defines political mobilisation on religious lines as involving “the use of sacred symbols, religious leaders, emotional appeal and plain fear in order to bring the followers of one religion together in the political arena.”
This chapter, titled ‘Gender, Religion and Caste’ goes on to explain how interests of one community are preferred over the other in such a form of politics. Crucial as it may be, no questions from it will be asked from this chapter in the 2020-21 board exams conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) from
Students will also not be evaluated on caste relations – also in the same chapter –which points out that even today, the ‘upper’ castes on an average are economically better off, compared to the Dalits and Adivasis.
From citizenship to federalism, topics pertinent to understanding the foundation of contemporary India form the 30% syllabus axed by the board to ‘ease the burden of students’.
In a circular, CBSE said that in order to reduce the exam stress, “rationalisation of syllabus up to 30% has been undertaken by the board for nearly 190 subjects of class IX TO XII” as a one-time measure only.
Sukhadeo Thorat, former chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) and professor emeritus in the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, asked if not now, will students be taught about “these problems when they are 25?”
Citizenship to Secularism: Original Designers Unaware of Change
Attempting to explain how the idea of citizenship unites people from different religions, castes, creeds, regions and offers them one equal, nondiscriminatory identity, a political science book for class 12, says that that “the Republic Day parade in Delhi symbolises the attempt of the state to include people of different regions, cultures and religions.”
The chapter has now been deleted for board examinations this year.
Professor Nandini Sundar, who teaches Sociology at the University of Delhi, said that “the titles of all the chapters that are being dropped are all values intrinsic to the Constitution, that the government has been attacking.”
The chapter on secularism, which points out that the massacre of Sikhs in 1984, the forced exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, and the death of mostly Muslims in the 2002 riots are all acts that go against the inclusive idea of a nation that does not discriminate on the basis of religious identity, too, has been dropped.
While questioning the committee that had taken the decision, Professor Sundar said that CBSE should have involved those who had originally designed the content of these books.
Professor Suhas Palshikhar, who along with Yogendra Yadav, helped CBSE design topics under political science, said that the duo were not consulted at all. “None of us were asked when the topics were dropped. Ideally, they could have reduced sections and not entire chapters,” he says.
Palshikhar said that students would gloss over a subject, and added that none of the topics deleted are repetitive.
Why Schools May Skip Dropped Portions
Although the board says that the topics dropped from board exams can be covered during the alternative academic calendar, multiple schools have told The Quint that the decision to teach those topics would be left to the teachers.
Dr Michael Williams, Dean of Mount Carmel Schools, said that his schools will “keep it completely free to the teachers to go ahead and teach this if time permits. However, if class tests or assignments from these topics are given, marks for these cannot be used in either internal assessment or final exams.”
Hence, it has been left to the schools to decide “whether they want to teach it, how deep they want to teach it.”
Lata Vaidyanathan, Director of Gyan Bharti School Saket, said she is sure that teachers at her school will teach the dropped portions, and could even offer assignments on the same. However, she admitted that since it is up to the teacher, “some schools may skip it completely and default on these portions.”
So essentially, while the dropped portions could still be in the syllabus, the fact that students won’t have to study them for boards and school mock tests really leaves a lot on the discretion of teachers.
Moreover, many teachers, faced with a paucity of time, could overlook these topics completely.
Social Movements Asked to Move
While attempting to explain the empowering role played by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), a chapter titled Social and New Social Movements in India for class 12 political science says the “NBA insisted that local communities must have a say in such decisions and they should also have effective control over natural resources like water, land and forests.”
The chapter, which also explains how the National Rehabilitation Policy was introduced by the government in 2003 following a massive campaign by the NBA, has been included in the list of dropped topics.
For Medha Patkar, who had been closely associated with the movement, this has hardly come as a surprise.
“I see this as a conspiracy to keep the students unaware of the people’s struggles, which really challenged the establishment at any particular point in history. They want to wipe off these movements, as the people’s battles from the history of India.”Medha Patkar
Patkar said the NBA had, for the first time, forced the World Bank to pull out of a project in India and appointed an investigative panel. It is the processes associated with mobilising such a huge support for people’s movement that Patkar feels the government want students not to study about.
She said that by not bringing these movements to public discourse, the government is allowing the “WhatsApp generation to remain unaware about what’s down.” She points out how several students were completely unaware of India’s deprived migrant workers, till they came out on the streets to return home.
“We will continue to fight, whether we are in the books or not,” she said.