While media reports have already countered the allegations made by HRD minister Smriti Irani in the Lok Sabha regarding Rohith Vemula’s suicide, newer reports have emerged refuting the second allegation made by Irani regarding the use of an “anti-national” handbook for class IV history teachers.
During a series of allegations and counter-allegations between the BJP and the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Irani flashed the handbook that was authored by activist Teesta Setalvad and said:
I wondered, where do our kids learn from? I am presenting an example in this House today, which just came to my desk. This is a history book for students of class 4. What are our teachers taught? The author of this book is Teesta Setalvad. This book has been commissioned by UPA’s Kapil Sibal. The same UPA whose chairperson is Soniaji. Let’s see what is to be taught to students of class 4.
But according to the administration of the Don Bosco school, after a series of protests staged by the RSS, the handbook was discontinued by the school in 2001.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Father Bernard Fernandes, principal of the school, said:
These were no textbooks but handbooks. These books were used by some of our schools on an experimental basis for a year and were meant for teachers...But they were discontinued immediately after a year they were introduced. Today, none of our teachers use these handbooks.
The handbook talked about Shivaji being born as a shudra who rose to power and fame because he represented the underprivileged classes and spoke against injustice.