'Lessons Countering Political Hegemony': Kerala Govt's New Books After NCERT Omits Texts

The additional textbooks introduced by the Kerala Government would provide lessons on a range of topics- from the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi to the emergence of Dalit Panthers and from Nehru’s vision of modern India to the Kerala Development Experience.

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‘Dear learners,

As learners of Social Sciences, internalising the principles of democracy, secularism, and humanism is of cardinal importance in making learning organic and meaningful. Developing and strengthening democratic values help one adhere to higher ideals such as social responsibility and commitment. The publishing of Additional Textbooks was necessitated by the omission of some pertinent areas from the content of History, Economics, Sociology and Political Science textbooks, prescribed for Class XI and XII. The purpose of this additional textbook is primarily to bridge the gap created by the deletion of certain topics and also to make you get familiarised with the values and ideals embedded in what has been removed. The sections incorporated herein have been meticulously chosen in strict accordance with the directives of the Kerala State School Curriculum Steering Committee. I hope this venture will be highly beneficial for you, enabling you to make learning meaningful and fruitful.’

This is what is read in the opening pages of the new textbooks introduced for higher secondary students under the Kerala syllabus. This message is undersigned by the Director of SCERT-the State Council of Educational Research and Training, the Government department authorised to finalise the curriculum and to prepare textbooks for students studying under the State syllabus.

In an unconventional move, the Government of Kerala has taken a step forward by introducing additional textbooks in response to the NCERT’s decision to omit ‘certain politically sensitive subjects’ from the higher secondary syllabus. 
The additional textbook on history for class 12 students has two parts Theme 1 and Theme 2. Theme 1 reads as ‘The Culture and Polity through Court Chronicles’, which illustrates the political and cultural aspects of the Mughal Era in detail. Theme 2, titled, ‘A Country that torn apart’, is all about partition, the portion which was excluded by the NCERT. 

The political science textbook for the ninth Standard explores two key concepts: Peace and Development. The initial section introduces structural violence in diverse forms such as the caste system, patriarchy, colonialism, racism, and communalism. The subsequent part examines the societal ramifications of developmental processes.

The additional textbook on political science for class 12 is a continuation of the themes discussed in the previous classes. The book is divided into two parts – Politics in India since Independence and Contemporary World Politics. The first part contains topics such as partition and the martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi, the five-year plans -- the major outcomes and limitations, and the Green Revolution. This part of the text also discusses the arguments in favour and against the declaration of emergency by Indira Gandhi and the impact of the same. The textbook also introduces various people’s movements in India such as the Chipco Movement, Narmada Bachavo Andolan, Bharatiya Kisan Union, Anti Arrack movement in Andhra Pradesh, and Dalit Panthers. This portion of the textbook also gives an introduction to the Kerala development experience and the People’s Planning Campaign carried out in Kerala. The first part of the political science textbook also includes a small chapter on the Gujarat riot of 2002 with a concluding statement, ‘‘The incident warns us about the dangers of using religious sentiments for political purposes, as it poses a threat to democracy."

The second part on international politics highlights topics such as the Cold War, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Gulf War, 9/11 and the global war on terror. The book also contains a critical analysis of the US Foreign policy too with chapters such as ‘Hegemonic Status of USA ‘ and the ‘Limiations of US Hegemony’. 

The eleventh-grade Economics textbook serves as a comprehensive initiation into the realm of poverty, offering an in-depth exploration within the context of India, with particular attention directed towards Kerala. This portion of the textbook contains citations from a diverse range of distinguished authors, including Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, economists Abhijit V. Banerjee and Jean Dreze, as well as political scholar Anand Teltumbde, who is currently facing legal charges in the Bhima-Koregaon case. The material not only encompasses an examination of policies and initiatives such as MGNREGA but also delves into the Kudumbasree mission of Kerala.

The Sociology textbook for class 12 students goes descriptive on certain concepts in sociology including caste system, social justice, communalism, regionalism, social and cultural diversity etc. The book also illustrates in detail the core values of the Indian Constitution and the contributions of Jawaharlal Nehru in shaping modern India. The textbook on sociology also introduces eminent personalities ranging from Mahatma Ayyankali, the legendary Dalit social reformer of Kerala to Sreedhanya Suresh the first tribal woman from Kerala to clear the Civil Service Examination. (She secured 410th rank in the 2018 Civil Service Examination).

The additional textbooks prepared by SCERT were launched by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on August 23 at Thiruvananthapuram. While releasing the textbooks he asserted that the facts behind the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi are widely known to everyone. He said that the removal of such portions from the textbook is not simplification but carries a very distinct political agenda. ‘It is an attempt to whitewash the individuals and organisations linked to Gandhi’s assassination,’ said Pinarayi Vijayan while releasing the additional textbooks for the higher secondary classes.