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'It's Saffronisation': Writers Speak of Karnataka BJP's School Textbook Overhaul

Bommai government has refused to rollback textbook revision amid criticism from public intellectuals and writers.

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Reporter/Producer: Ananth Shreyas

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

The Karnataka government has decided to not to roll back the controversial textbooks that are being introduced as per the suggestions given by the Rohith Chakrathirtha committee.

Kannada writers have accused the committee of 'saffronisation' of textbooks. Some writers whose works or excerpts were dropped from the textbooks include P Lankesh, Sara Abubaker, AN Murthy Rao, Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy, and HS Shivaprakash.

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'Saffronisation': Authors Withdraw Works From Textbooks

Alleging the that committee had saffronised textbooks by selectively dropping and including texts based on an agenda, several authors withdrew theirs work from being published in Karnataka's state syllabus textbooks. They also claimed that the revision committee was "unrepresentative" and "unconstitutional."

Speaking to The Quint author G Ramakrishna said, “They ultimately want to saffronise the textbook throughout the country. Ours is a ground for experiments. Their objectives are also very well defined in the new education policy. The passion is understandable. But as far as the academic discipline is considered, it leaves much to be desired."

The protest by withdrawal of proposed textbooks got intensified by authors like Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy and Chandrashekhar Talya asking the government not to publish any of their works.

In an interview to The Quint, Dalit poet Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy said, "He (Hedgewar) has used the term Bhagawa Dhwaja. He has written that in the text. But, this committee has removed Bhagawa and has retained only Dhwaja. Is this not cheating? This is injustice. Because, the original author doesn't comprehend that idea itself. It is clear manipulation. That is what we protest. Textbooks are not at all inclusive. This is saffronisation."

Criticising the New Education Policy and alleging a nation-wide saffronisation of education to the governing BJP, G Ramakrishna said that the committee was unrepresentative of minorities and unconstitutional.

"They ultimately want to saffronise the textbook throughout the country. Ours is a ground for experiments. Their objectives are also very well defined in the new education policy. The passion is understandable. But as far as the academic discipline is considered, it leaves much to be desired,” he told The Quint.

Scholars, Seers, Political Organisations Rally Against Saffronistaion

Resigning from his position as the Chairman of Rashtrakavi Kuvempu Pratishtana, Hampa Nagaraiah protested against the government’s inaction due to the insult meted out to state poet Kuvempu.

"I got the text which was very controversial. I read it and it was not at all in good taste. It is absurd. Therefore, I decide to come out and sent the resignation letter to the Chief Minister of Karnataka,” said Hampa Nagarajiah told The Quint. However, the Chakrathirta Committee called the controversy a witch-hunt, as he had just posted a WhatsApp forward on a social media platform.

Pro-Kannada groups, along with activists of the Vishwa Manaviyate Mattu Kuvempu Horata Smith burn the effigy of Rohith Chakrathirtha protesting the insulting post made about Kuvempu

(Image: Accessed by The Quint)

Political parties Congress and Janata Dal (Secular),organisations such Vishwa Manaviyate Mattu Kuvempu Horata Smithi, and the seers of various mutts belonging to the Vokkaliga and Lingayat castes, and Dalit intellectuals held a rally against government’s decision to go ahead with the proposed textbooks.

Karnataka Congress President DK Shivakumar and JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda shared a stage in Bengaluru and condemned the review committee. The KPCC president also tore a textbook to express his rejection of new textbooks.

DK Shivakumar shares stage with seers, writers, scholars and other activists in rally against Rohith Chakrathirtha Committee.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

However, the BJP government led by Bommai has gone on the offensive and has said that there were more errors and irregularities in textbooks during Congress' Siddaramaiah government in the past.

Revenue Minister R Ashoka also confirmed to the media that the the government will not withdraw the revised textbooks.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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