🔴 “We remain strangers even after so many encounters, bloodstains remain even after so many rains.”
🔴 “Not enough to shed tears, suffer from anguish, not enough to nourish love in secret… Today, take a walk in the public square in chains.”
FOR OVER a decade, CBSE students have read these translated excerpts from two Urdu poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz in the “Religion, Communalism and Politics – Communalism, Secular State” section of the NCERT Class 10 textbook “Democratic Politics II”. The verses have been excluded from The CBSE 2022-23 academic program, which was released on Thursday.
The part of the curriculum document, which lists the content of the social studies course for class 10, indicates that the segment on religion, communalism and politics will continue to be part of the course content – “excluding the image on pages 46, 48, 49”.
The images referred to are two posters and a political cartoon.
One of the posters, illustrated with verses by Faiz, was published by the NGO ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy), which counts social activists Shabnam Hashmi and Harsh Mander among its co-founders.
The two posters and the cartoon are the only images that have been excluded from the course content. The CBSE did not respond to questions from The Indian Express about the reasons for the exclusion.
According to leading literary web portal Rekhta, the poem from which these verses were taken was composed by Faiz when he was taken from a prison in Lahore, in chains, to a dentist’s office in a tonga by ways that left him were familiar.
The second poster, with excerpts from Faiz’s other poem, was published by the Voluntary Health Association of India, which describes itself as a federation of 27 state associations. Rekhta says Faiz wrote this poem after visiting Dhaka in 1974.
Ajith Ninan’s cartoon, which shows an empty chair adorned with religious symbols, is from the Times of India. It comes with the caption: “This chair is for the designated CM to prove their secular credentials…There will be a lot of rocking!”
The textbook was developed by a committee chaired by the late Professor Hari Vasudevan of the Department of History, University of Calcutta following the review of the National Curriculum Framework in 2005.
Chapters on “democracy and diversity” are also removed from the course content, which introduce students to the concept of social divisions and inequalities based on race and caste across the world, including in India; “popular struggles and movements” with a focus on Nepal and Bolivia; and, “Challenges to Democracy” on the reform of democratic politics.
The “How to use this book” segment indicates that graphics, collages, photographs, posters and a wide range of political cartoons feature prominently.
“These images offer visual relief and a bit of fun. But you don’t just have to “see” these images and turn the page. You are expected to “read” the meaning of these images. Very often, politics is not made by words but by images. The captions and questions that often accompany these images help you read these images,” he says.
Furthermore, a chapter on the “Central Islamic Lands” is missing from the content of the history lesson for class 11. It deals with the rise of Islamic empires in the Afro-Asian territories and its implications for the economy and the society, according to the program for 2021-22. .
Other social science topics that have faced the ax this time include “the impact of globalization on agriculture” from a chapter on food security in the curriculum for class 10. A chapter on “ The Cold War Era and the Non-Aligned Movement” has been removed from the Class 12 Political Science curriculum.
Apart from that, a unit on mathematical reasoning was removed from the curriculum for class 11. Composite functions, the inverse of a function, the basic properties of inverse trigonometric functions, the mathematical formulation of linear programming problems and the binomial probability distribution have also been discarded.
As part of its decision to streamline the curriculum, the CBSE had announced that the chapters on federalism, citizenship, nationalism and secularism in the class 11 political science textbook would not be considered during the evaluation of students, sparking a major controversy. The subjects were restored in the 2021-22 academic session and are still part of the curriculum.
In 2012, NCERT agreed to remove six cartoons from grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 political science textbooks following outrage over “anti-class political” content. In 2018, NCERT undertook another round of political commentary revisions, including tweaking the captions under the cartoons.