Updated: Apr 24
Taj Mahal, Agra, India
In early April of 2023, the right to education and freedom of information took another hit in India. The right-wing and Hindu nationalist, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Indian government has been accused of editing its history in sociology, political science, and history textbooks from grades 6-12 as part of its Hindu nationalist agenda. References removed include caste-based discrimination and the Dalit resistance movement; the 2002 Gujarat riots, during which the current PM Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat and where Muslims were the main targets of violence; and the connection of Hindu extremism to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Also removed were the sections on the Mughal Empire, which had ruled the Indian region for over 300 years. The Mughals were majority Muslim rulers who greatly shaped modern India.
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) prepares the public education curriculum and textbooks, which are used by approximately 20,000 schools across the country. According to the NCERT director, the removal of these topics was to reduce the workload for students. The censorship has been praised by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing paramilitary group, of which the assassin of Gandhi was a member. As elections are approaching, many academics see this censorship as a political move to gain majority Hindu support.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide sees these actions as an unacceptable attack on the freedom of information and condemns Modi’s nationalist government’s move to exclude the diverse history of the country and the continent at large from school textbooks as means of furthering his nationalist agenda. ESW calls on NCERT to restore the references and chapters removed and to provide the students with a more accurate description of India’s history.
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