Braj Bihari Kumar, newly appointed chairman of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), said schools textbooks should drop lessons on Hindu-Muslim or caste riots because they might affect students’ mindset.
Kumar, 76, an admirer of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said students would become activists instead of learners, if such lessons are taught in schools, reported Hindustan Times.
“Class 6 textbook of social sciences mentions Hindu-Muslim riots, caste riots... They (the writers) want to create social activists rather than students or learners. Do you think anti-Muslim riots should be taught to class 6 or 7 students? Even in class 12, they shouldn’t be taught,” Kumar told HT.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) recently proposed that the Class 12 Political Science II book refer to the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat simply as the “Gujarat riots” instead of the current “anti-Muslim riots”. The proposal was made in a meeting of the CBSE’s course review committee in New Delhi.
Kumar, who has been serving as the editor of the two quarterly journals published by a society called Astha Bharati, replaced eminent academic SK Thorat, who was appointed by the UPA government. The ICSSR is dedicated to social science research in India.
“People who have written history and social sciences books had their own agenda,” he said told HT.
Kumar said the textbooks mention the hardship faced by BR Ambedkar as a Dalit. The textbooks should inform students what positive steps Ambedkar himself took.
The opposition accuses the BJP government of trying to impose its ideology and erase secular thoughts from textbooks. In the past three years, BJP-ruled states such as Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Maharashtra faced allegation of saffronising education by changing schoolbooks.
Historian Ramachandra Guha, in an article in Hindustan Times, had said the appointment of the Kumar as ICSSR chairman shows that the Modi government has contempt for thinkers and scholars (as distinct from loyalists and ideologues).
“The new ICSSR Chairman is not exactly a familiar name among the social science community in India. Following his surprise appointment, several newspapers have carried extracts from Shri B B Kumar’s writings. His views therein may be summarised as: Muslim monarchs and T B Macaulay, wicked; Narendra Modi, wonderful. In a remarkable feat of intellectual legerdemain, the new ICSSR Chairman even blames Muslims for the creation of the caste system,” said Guha in the article.