In a major leap forward for curriculum in Indian schools, the Maharashtra government has revised its Class 11 sociology textbook, to include a more diverse and inclusive representation of families: single-parent families, live-in relationships, families with same-sex parents, and children with step parents.
As reported in Hindustan Times, the update is a drastic shift from earlier sociology books, which saw families with a myopic lens, recognising only two types – nuclear families and joint families.
Published by Balbharti, the state’s publishing bureau, the textbook has been introduced from the current academic year (2019-20), as part of a larger curriculum revamp for Class 11.
The book reportedly touches topics such as same-sex marriages, gender equality and cultural hybridisation in the social media age (for which a hijab-clad barbie doll is used as an example).
In its pages, the book highlights the importance of the historic verdict in which “the Supreme Court of India, on 6 September 2018, had decriminalised Section 377 of the IPC and allowed gay sex among consenting adults in private.”
In a newly introduced module, on ‘Twenty first century families’, the book addresses live-in relationships saying, "younger generations, especially in many parts of Europe and in urban areas of India, are preferring cohabitation as family relation. This is especially true about same-sex couples.”
"Live-in relations or cohabitation might not lead to marriage," it adds.
The chairperson of the committee that framed the new curriculum, Vaishali Diwakar, said that there was a need to teach sociology with contemporary references, while also challenging existing biases, according to Hindustan Times.
The book talks about the need for gender equity, which is mentioned as one of the agencies of socialisation.
Dr Joseph MT, assistant professor of Sociology, University of Mumbai said, " I think teachers also have a great role to play in determining how a subject is taught."
"Showing that these realities exist is extremely important," he added.
“We are hoping that this would help remove the taboo associated with non-normative relationships. The decriminalisation of homosexuality has acted as a good starting point for this conversation.”Vaishali Joshi, Associate Professor of Sociology, St Mira’s College Pune, to Hindustan Times
Modern social phenomena such as an increasingly rapid growth of divorce and increase in the marriage age are also discussed in the book.
(With inputs from Hindustan Times)