Scholars, Writers Quit Karnataka Govt Bodies To Protest Saffronisation of Books

Noted scholar Hampa Nagarajaiah quit his post as president of Rashtrakavi Kuvempu Pratishthana.

Hindi Female

The row over revision of textbooks has snowballed in Karnataka as noted poet, writer and scholar Hampa Nagarajaiah resigned from his post as president of Rashtrakavi Kuvempu Pratishthana on Monday, 30 May.

Hampa has alleged that the government is ‘insulting’ the memorial by appointing people who have spoken against noted Kannada poet Kuvempu in the past.

In his letter to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Hampa said he was upset that the government had chosen to stay silent about the disrespect shown to the Karnataka state anthem penned by Kuvempu.

He was referring to the distorted version of the state anthem posted on social media a few years ago by Rohith Chakrathirtha, who is now the chairperson of the textbook review committee.

'A Dangerous Development': Hampa Nagarajaiah

More and more noted people have been protesting against the appointment of Rohith, a mathematician and right-winger, to the textbook review committee, with political leaders, thinkers, educationists and writers criticising the government for “saffronising” the content.

“Kuvempu was the first to bring the Jnanpith award to Karnataka. Recognising his contribution, the government had established the Rashtrakavi Kuvempu Prathistana (Trust), and had also awarded him the Karnataka ratna. But today, the government has given a responsible position to a person who has insulted Kuvempu and ridiculed the state anthem. This is a dangerous development,” Hampa Nagarajaiah has said in the letter, while announcing his resignation from the trust started by the state government in 1992.

Meanwhile, noted writer SG Siddaramaiah, who is the president of GS Shivarudrappa Prathistana, resigned from his post in protest along with three other members.

In his letter to CM Basavaraj Bommai, he said those who are spreading communal hate in the society are being honoured by the government instead of punishing them and this has led to anxiety and fear.

Along with him, three members – HS Raghavendra Rao, Chandrashekhar Nangali, and Nataraj Boodalu – also resigned from the Prathistana.

The textbook committee was originally established after complaints that some sections in Kannada textbooks were against the Brahmin community.


The row erupted when the textbook revision committee recommended removing some passages on Bhagat Singh, Tipu Sultan, and Periyar from Kannada school textbooks, and adding texts and speeches by RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, Vedic scholar late Bannanje Govindacharya, Shatavadhani R Ganesh, and other noted authors and poets.

The committee was accused of ‘saffronising’ the school syllabus in Karnataka. While the section on Bhagat Singh was later retained after protests, many noted authors and poets then asked the government to drop their works from the textbooks. It was while the saffronisation row was going on that Rohith’s comments on Kuvempu surfaced, leading to more outrage.

Seers Unhappy Over Development

The pontiff of Sanehalli math of Taralabalu Jagadguru shakha, Panditaradhya Shivacharya Swami has objected to certain additions to the textbooks about saint and social reformer Basavanna.

Writing to CM Bommai, he criticised that textbooks were not available even though schools had begun 15 days earlier and said that content in the textbooks should not fall prey to caste and politics.

Recommending that the state adopt the textbook of earlier years if they were not able to rectify the mistakes, the pontiff warned that the government could expect a statewide agitation if they did not take appropriate measures.

The letter comes close on the heels of another letter written by Nirmalanandanatha Swami of Adichunchanagiri math objecting to distorting the state anthem and insulting comments about Kuvempu.

Following his letter, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education BC Nagesh met the pontiff and explained their stand on the issue, while the CM said they would consider the letter seriously and take a call on the issue.

More Writers Withdraw Permission

More Kannada writers have withdrawn their permission for their writings to be used in state textbooks, turning the heat on the Karnataka government, which has so far staunchly defended Rohith Chakrathirtha as chairperson of the textbook review committee.

In the continuing objection to controversy surrounding addition and deletion of content from textbooks of Classes 1 to 10, poet Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy and author Irappa M Kambali withdrew their permission for the use of their poem and essay respectively.

Chandrashekara Talya also withdrew his poem from the Class 6 Kannada textbook, while writer Roopa Hasana withdrew permission for her essay 'Ammanaguvudu endare' to be included in the Class 9 textbook. Professor KS Madhusudhan resigned from his post as president of textbook committee for the class 9 second language Kannada textbook.

In his letter to Minister BC Nagesh, author Irappa Kambali said he was severely dissatisfied with the “unhealthy developments” in the state and withdrew permission for use of his essay ‘Heegondu Top Prayana’ from the Kannada subject textbook of class 10.

Poet Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy objected to the saffronisation of textbooks and erroneous depiction of social reformer and saint Basavanna as well as humiliation of illustrious poet Kuvempu.

In his letter to BC Nagesh, Chinnaswamy said, “This caste-ridden society can only be set right by a casteless society. It is regrettable that the primary and secondary education field which is responsible for preparing our young citizens for a healthy society has been overtaken by such developments. Distancing progressives by accusing them of being left wing is not a healthy development in society.”

He withdrew his permission for the use of the poem, ‘Nanna Kavithege,’ which is taught in class 5.

Earlier, noted Dalit activist and litterateur Devanuru Mahadeva and thinker Dr G Ramakrishna had asked the education department to drop chapters carrying their works, following the row over omissions and inclusion of certain lessons by the Textbook Revision Committee.

While the government has so far stood by its decision to appoint Chakrathirtha, it is still not clear how much of the content has been changed and what it has been changed to (mostly in Kannada and social science subjects), as textbooks are still not available, despite the academic year having begun 15 days ago.

(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute.)

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