As part of a “textbook rationalisation” exercise in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Council for Education, Research and Training (NCERT) has dropped the chapter on Gujarat riots from the Class XII political science curriculum. According to a note released on Thursday, explaining what it meant by this ‘rationalisation’, the NCERT mentions that pages 187-189 on Gujarat riots are among the contents removed from the book.
The pages also carry images of news clippings from 1 March 2002 when the riots broke out after the news spread that a Muslim gang had set on fire Sabarmati Express carrying Hindu pilgrims, which killed nearly 60 passengers in the train who burnt or choked to death at the Godhra railway station.
“Gujarat riots show that the government machinery also becomes susceptible to sectarian passions. Instances, like in Gujarat, alert us to (the) dangers involved in using religious sentiments for political purposes. This poses a threat to democratic politics,” states a paragraph that has been removed.
It also contains a blurb carrying then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statement that his “one message to the Chief Minister (of Gujarat) is that he should follow ‘raj dharma’. “A ruler should not make any discrimination between his subjects on the basis of caste, creed and religion,” it quotes Vajpayee as having said. It adds that after a brief tete-a-tete with Narendra Modi, the then-chief minister of Gujarat appointed months ago, Vajpayee says, “And I am confident Modi ji is doing exactly that.”
Official figures say that 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed in the Gujarat riots of 2002 whereas other sources put the total casualties between 1,926 and more than 2,000, with over 2,500 people grievously injured.
Page 105 of the NCERT book on the history of the “Naxalite movement”, and pages 113-117 on “Controversies regarding Emergency” no longer figure in the syllabus.
The NCERT explains that the removals as part of the rationalisation include “overlapping with similar content included in other subject areas in the same class” and “content, which is irrelevant in the present context”.
“In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is imperative to reduce (the) content load on students. The National Education Policy-2020 also emphasises the same… In this background (sic), the NCERT has undertaken the exercise to rationalise the textbooks for all classes,” the council says.
As per the NCERT, content which was already removed under the CBSE’s 2022-23 academic curriculum released earlier this year will also remain out of the curriculum.