‘Why To Teach Riots’: NCERT Chief On Textbook Changes, Says 'Irrelevant Things Need To Be Changed'

NCERT's director Dinesh Prasad Saklani has said that references to Gujarat riots and Babri masjid demolition were modified in school textbooks because teaching about riots 'can create violent and depressed citizens.'

NCERT Director Dinesh Prasad Saklani | Photo: PTI

Amid allegations of "saffronisation" of school curriculum over modification of information on Gujarat riots and Babri masjid demolition, National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) director Dinesh Prasad Saklani said on Sunday that references to these in school textbooks were modified because teaching about riots "can create violent and depressed citizens."

Dinesh Prasad Saklani said the tweaks in textbooks are part of annual revision and should not be a subject of hue and cry.

NCERT Cheif: 'Why To Teach Riots'

"Why should we teach about riots in school textbooks? We want to create positive citizens not violent and depressed individuals," Saklani said in an interview with news agency PTI, responding to a question about references to Gujarat riots or Babri masjid demolition being tweaked in NCERT textbooks.

"Should we teach our students in a manner that they become offensive, create hatred in society or become victim of hatred? Is that education's purpose? Should we teach about riots to such young children ... when they grow up, they can learn about it but why school textbooks. Let them understand what happened and why it happened when they grow up. The hue and cry about the changes is irrelevant," NCERT chief Saklani said. 

The statements by Saklani come amid new textbooks hitting the market with several deletions and changes, over which Opposition parties have raised questions in the past.

The revised Class 12 political science textbook, does not mention the Babri masjid, but refers to it as a "three-domed structure". 

The new textbooks have also pruned the Ayodhya section from four to two pages and deleted details from the earlier version. It instead focuses on the Supreme Court judgement that paved the way for the construction of a Ram temple at the site where the disputed structure once stood before it was torn down by Hindu activists in December 1992.

"We want to create positive citizens and that's what is the purpose of our textbooks. We cannot have everything in them. The purpose of our education is not to create violent citizens ... depressed citizens. Hatred and violence are not subjects of teaching, they should not be focus of our textbooks," added Saklani. 

He hinted that the same hue and cry is not made about 1984 riots not being in textbooks. 

The latest deletions in the textbooks include: BJP's 'rath yatra' from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya; the role of kar sevaks; communal violence in the wake of the demolition of the Babri masjid; President's rule in BJP-ruled states; and the BJP's expression of "regret over the happenings at Ayodhya". 

"If Supreme Court has given a verdict in favour of Ram temple, Babri masjid or Ram janmabhoomi, should it not be included in our textbooks, what is the problem in that? We have included the new updates. If we have constructed new Parliament, should our students not know about it. It is our duty to include the ancient developments and recent developments," he said. 

'Irrelevant Things Need To Be Changed'

Asked about allegations of saffronisation of curriculum and ultimately textbooks, Saklani said, "If something has become irrelevant ... it will have to be changed. Why shouldn't it be changed. I don't see any saffronisation here. We teach history so students know about facts, not for making it a battleground". 

"If we are telling about Indian Knowledge System, how can it be saffronisation? If we are telling about iron pillar in Mehrauli and saying Indians were way ahead of any metallurigical scientist, are we saying wrong? How can it be saffronisation?" 

Saklani, 61, who was head of the ancient history department at the HNB Garhwal University before taking charge as NCERT director in 2022, has drawn flak over the changes in textbooks, especially pertaining to historical facts. 

"What is wrong about changes in textbooks? Updating textbooks is a global practice, it is in interest of education. Revising textbooks is an annual exercise. Whatever is changed is decided by subject and pedagogy experts. I do not dictate or interfere in the process ... there is no imposition from top. 

"There are no attempts to saffronise curriculum, everything is based on facts and evidence," he said.