news Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 05:30
Anisha Sheth | The News Minute | November 19, 2014 | 2 pm IST It would come as no surprise if children studying in schools in Karnataka, years from now, firmly believe that the technology for test tube babies was developed in India. They would, after all, be merely repeating what their text books taught them in school. Groups working with education and against “saffronization” of education have pointed out several instances of “objectionable material” in the text books of prescribed by the state board. The science text book prescribed for children studying in Class 5 under the state syllabus says that according to an article published in Chikitsa, an Indian Ayurvedic magazine, the first test tube babies were created in India 7,500 years ago. The author P V Vartak writes that Dronacharya was born to a sage named Bharadwaja in modern day Dehradun.  Page 208 of the Class 5 text book describing test tube babies Page 29 of the Class 5 text book describing test tube babies The text book says: “Drona implies that he was gestated in a droon (earthen pot). The story of Drona’s birth is recounted in Mahabharatha, Book I: Adi Parva, Sambhava Parva, Section CXXXI. When, one day, Bharadwaja went to the Ganges for a bath, he saw a beautiful apsara named Ghrithachi. He was overcome by desire, causing him to ejaculate. Bharadwaja captured the fluid in an earthen pot (drona), from which Drona was born and got his name.” Another chapter in the same text book also says that the term particle which is called KaNa is Kannada is derived from the name of Maharshi KaNada, who hails from Gujarat.  Besides these, there are a number of other statements in the Social Science and Science text books of several classes according to the All India Save Education Committee (AISEC) and the Committee for Resisting Saffronization of Textbooks, Karnataka (CRST). One example in the history section of the Social Science textbook for Class 5 said that the Indus Valley civilization is also called as the “Sindhu-Saraswati civilization” as 360 of 1000 settlements of the civilization were discovered close to the Saraswati river.  Page 37 of the Social Science text book of Class 5 describing the Sindhu-Saraswati civilization V N Rajshekar of the AISEC told The News Minute that the there was much debate about the existence of the river and that historians were divided on whether or not it existed, and if it did, where was the river.  “The existence of the Saraswati river is a matter of debate for the universities and archaelogists. School books should only contain scientific, proven facts which have been objectively discovered,” Rajshekar says. The CRST on the other hand, has looked at the text books of Classes 7 and 10 for the year 2014. In a report, the committee points out what it considers are problematic issues. According to the CRST report, in the Folk History chapter in the Social Science book (English medium) for Class 10 students for instance, the book implies that only the history written by Indians is the correct one, and that the history written by the British was one with an agenda. As an alternative to the western linear method of writing history, the text book presents the Kalachakra concept on page 21. The text book says: “Indian system views time in a cyclic manner. This is also called Kalachakra. There is no end in sight for kalachakra. After one rotation of this chakra is completed, the second one starts. The completion of one cycle is called yuga. In this way, history is narrated as tretayuga, dwaparayuga etc. In such circumstances, many new incidents and events or avatars may merge. They undergo change from time to time”.  The CRST report argues that if the western method of writing history was indeed biased, calling the Kalachakra system an “Indian” method too was a “one-sided” approach. The CRST report says: “Here Indian oral history tradition is viewed only through Vedic time cycle. This explanation does not focus on the many alternative ways available in folk traditions or non-Vedic traditions for looking into the time in history.” The CRST report also questions the intentions behind the inclusion of chapters on ‘Crusades’, ‘Immoral Behavior of Catholic Church’, ‘Invasions of Muslims’ and so on repeatedly in text books of various Classes. In contrast, report says, that the caste system and the practice of untouchability are simply glossed over with just a passing mention and no attempt is made to help the student understand why these systems exist in Indian society. The report also quotes the National Curriculum Framework 2005, which is the framework within which state level text books are to be prepared. According to the NCF, “India will be discussed from the perspectives of the adivasi, dalit and other disenfranchised populations and effort should be to relate the content much as possible to the children’s everyday lives.” Researcher at Kuvempu University and member of the CRST Francis D’Souza said: “There is a demarcation between myth and history. History has always been written by dominant groups, and the histories of the marginalized, including women, have been ignored.” The text books for the state education boards are prepared by the Text Book Society under the Karnataka Curriculum Framework 2006 which is in turn drafted along the lines of the National Curriculum Framework 2005. Both groups say that the text book committees constituted under the BJP government were not dissolved and hence, despite a Congress government in the state, such text books had been prepared. Rajshekar says that a similar situation had occurred during the S M Krishna government and then too, the AISEC had approached the then education minister who had taken the necessary steps to get the books reviewed. He says that this time too, they had sought out the education minister, who has said that he will invite them for a discussion. D’Souza says that in recent years, many CBSE and ICSE schools have mushroomed, where the children of the rich study. He says that the children who study in government schools are the children of the poor, and it is they who will be learning that test tube babies were first created in India if the existing text books were not corrected.
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