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Authors Allege Karnataka Textbooks ‘Not Inclusive,’ Withdraw Consent to Use Work

Several authors revoked their permission to use their works in textbooks, alleging ‘saffronisation’ of textbooks.

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Authors Allege Karnataka Textbooks ‘Not Inclusive,’ Withdraw Consent to Use Work
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Poet Chandrashekar Talya is among the many scholars who have revoked permission to use their work in Karnataka school textbooks.

"We must acknowledge that Bhagavadwaja is a representation of saffronisation. But they have not followed the right method in introducing the ideology. The collective culture of the subcontinent has been plurality. But saffronisation is about asserting a monolithic identity," he told The Quint.

Other authors including Roopa Hassan, G Ramakrishna and Devanur Mahadeva, too have accused the Rohith Chakrathirtha-led textbook revision committee of ‘undemocratic’ practices and ‘saffronisation’ of textbooks.

Following the raging controversy, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday, 3 June said the textbook review committee has been “disbanded” as its designated work was completed, and the government is open for further revision if there is any objectionable content.

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The controversy erupted last month over alleged revision in the History text books for the state’s PUC colleges. Alleging ‘saffronising’ of education, many sought sacking of review committee chief Rohith Chakratirtha. He has been accused of propagating right-wing ideology through textbooks, omitting chapters on key figures like freedom fighters, social reformers, and writings of noted literary figures and showing disrespect to the Karnataka state anthem in a social media post in 2017.

The committee was constituted to examine social science and language textbooks and revise them.

Objectionable Content in Karnataka Textbooks To Be Revised

After many littérateurs demanded a review of the state's textbooks, the state government on Wednesday sought a comprehensive report from the education minister on the issue.

Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai added that the appropriate revision to the chapter on 12th-century social reformer Basavanna, regarding which objections have been raised by several prominent personalities and seers, will be done.

"There is no question of a new committee formation for textbook review. We'll discuss with seers who have written letters to me about Basavanna and phrases related to Basavanna, I have already said that ours is a Basava Patha (path) government," he told ANI.

On Wednesday, BT Naganna, an AAP worker in Bengaluru, had registered a police complaint against Chakrathirtha for insulting Kuvempu, who authored the state anthem. The CM clarified that the distorted state anthem was not part of any text book and that the cyber crime team has been directed to look into the matter and take action against those behind it.

He added that the Kannada textbooks that were revised by the previous textbook review committee – headed by Prof Baraguru Ramachandrappa – had only seven essays or poems related to Kuvempu, while their number has been now increased to 10.

He also stated that the previous text books had essays on Islam and Christianity and now a chapter on Nadaprabhu Kempegowda (founder of Bengaluru) has been newly added to the textbook so as to supplement the book with essays on Hinduism as well.

Some organisations even raised objections over the alleged replacing of a chapter on Bhagat Singh with an essay on a speech by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in the revised Kannada textbook for Class 10.

Dalit poet Chinnaswamy Mudnakudu explained to The Quint,"There is an article by Hedgewar. He has written about what should be the prominent flag. He has used the term Bhagawadhwaja. 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. There is textbook is not at all inclusive and it is saffronisation."

The CM reiterated that no existing text will be dropped as suggested by the Chakrathirtha committee.

G Ramakrishna, a writer whose text was dropped by the committee, told The Quint, "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."

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Review Committee Head Terms Controversy ‘Political Witch-Hunt’

Meanwhile, Chakrathirtha termed the ongoing controversy over the revision of textbooks a “political witch-hunt”.

In an interview to The Indian Express on 2 June, he said that he is not in favour of going back to the textbooks prepared by the Bargaru Ramchandrappa committee constituted during the tenure of the Congress government, as "it will reflect negatively on the state."

"Our committee referred to 30 books before making the changes in the Kannada textbook and consulted 10 books for social science,” he said, quoted the media outlet.

Chakrathirtha has been embroiled in yet another controversy after a series of tweets he posted in 2014 and 2015 on porn resurfaced online. Admitting that the tweets were from his account, Chakrathirtha claimed that the posts were meant to be “jovial”.

“In any ‘class room’ porn film you see that teacher writes only maths on blackboard! Why’’ and another, “Watching India batting is like watching porn...” Or even a joke about women drivers, “...can’t see a pillar from 2 metres while parking a car!” were some of the tweets.

“It is not necessary to be the same now as you were a decade ago. All of us go through transformational changes in life. We were all excited about social media platforms during those days and I just posted one-liners of what was already in the public space,” he told The Indian Express.

(With inputs from The Indian Express)

(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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