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NCERT book ' purged' at Jaya's behest.

NCERT textbooks are in for yet another sanitisation exercise. This time, changes are being made to a social science textbook, predictably, at the behest of a politician -- Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalith.

Last week, the National Council for Education Research and Training ( NCERT) informed the ministry of human resource development ( HRD) about three changes approved by the National Monitoring Committee -- the highest academic authority on textbook content -- in a chapter titled ' Clothing: A Social History' of the Class IX social science book.

AIADMK supremo Jayalalith had written to the Prime Minister and HRD minister M. M. Pallam Raju in November last year seeking their intervention to remove " objectionable" references to the Nadar community in the text.

In her letter, she had objected to Nadars being described as migrants in Travancore, who worked as toddy tappers under Nair landlords. She deemed this derogatory and incorrect as, according to her, the Nadars are the original inhabitants of Kanyakumari district. She also had a problem with the chapter not mentioning the work of social reformer Aiya Vaikundar Swarup in the ' upper cloth revolt'. For the uninitiated, the upper cloth revolt refers to the rebellion by Nadar women against caste restrictions imposed by the Travancore kingdom ( now part of Kerala) to fight for their right to wear upper- body clothes. With the Prime Minister's office and the HRD minister requesting NCERT to look into the complaint immedi- ately, the textbook development committee on social science met on January 1 and suggested the three changes.

" Firstly, it recommended that the reference to migration of Nadars to Travancore be dropped from the chapter. Secondly, ( they wanted) a mention of the contribution of social reformer Aiya Vaikundar Swarup inserted. Thirdly, it was recommended that the portion of the chapter that identified Nadars as toddy tappers be revised and a reference made to the various other occupations the community was engaged in," a ministry official said.

The changes, however, are not just limited to the Nadar issue.

The National Monitoring Committee has also tweaked a chapter in the Class VIII social science book which mentions social reformer Narayana Guru.

That apart, it changed the caption of an illustration depicting pilgrims at Kaba in the Class XI history textbook titled ' Themes in World History' after the Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri mosque, Mohammad Mukarram Ahmed, found it inaccurate.

He said the caption of the illustration stated that the pilgrims were " touching" the stone even though it's customary to kiss it. According to sources, these changes were approved by the National Monitoring Committee, headed by former vice- chancellor of Northeastern Hill University professor Mrinal Miri, about a week ago and the revised books have now gone into printing.


Reference to migration of Nadars to southern Travancore in the chapter titled ' Clothing: A Social History' has been dropped Text now dwells on the role of Aiya Vaikundar Swarup in the ' Upper Cloth Revolt' An interactive question or activity box has been introduced for students to seek more information on Aiya Vaikundar In the revised portion, the chapter which earlier referred to Nadars as toddy tappers, talks about the various other occupations the community was engaged in

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Feb 3, 2013
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