Assam syllabus 2021: ‘Saffronisation’ cry over deleted chapters for HS

Guwahati: The rise of China as an economic power in the post-Mao era, Jawaharlal Nehru’s foreign policy, Ayodhya dispute, Gujarat riots, the 2004 elections, and the UPA government are some of the topics that have been deleted from the syllabus of the 2021 boards for Class XII final exams.

But the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC) maintained that 30% of the syllabi was cut short for all subjects of higher secondary first and second-year students of arts, science, and commerce streams in view of the academic losses during the pandemic.

However, the deletion of ‘sensitive’ topics has irked academicians who have been critical of the ‘saffronisation of education’ for a long.

The erasing of topics under ‘Politics in India since Independence’ may have angered opposition Congress which has glorified the Nehruvian era as laying the foundation of modern India. The ‘First three general elections’, ‘Nehru’s approach to nation-building’, ‘Nehru’s foreign policy’, ‘Elections 2004 and UPA government’, ‘Ayodhya dispute’ and the ‘Gujarat riots’ have been taken off the pages of political science textbooks for Class XII.

The section on contemporary world politics featuring topics like ‘Debates on the nature of consequences of globalization’, ‘Anti-globalization movements’, ‘Politics of disarmament’ and ‘Dominance and challenge to the US in economy and ideology’ have also been snipped off.

There are more chapters facing the axe. In the section on Bhakti-Sufi traditions, ‘Difference and conflict’, ‘Religious ferment in North India’, and ‘Reconstructing histories of religious traditions’ have also been deleted.

The complete chapter on ‘Peasants, zamindars and the state’ and ‘Kinship, caste, and class’ has been ripped off. On the theme of kings and chronicles, chapters like ‘The Mughal Court’, ‘Jesuits at the Mughal court’, and ‘Questioning formal religion’ cannot be seen in the revised syllabus.

In the Swadesh Adhyayan section, incorporated in the Class XII syllabus for students a few years ago to impart knowledge on their homeland, topics that have been erased include ‘Changes in religious and linguistic demography’ and the ‘Non-cooperation movement and Quit-India movement’.

To come back to recent times, the citizenship issue, which caused a furore last year, especially after the Citizenship (Amendment) Act was passed, has also not been spared. The impact of the infiltrators on Assam’s public life and culture has been deleted.

The political succession after Nehru, the politics of ‘Garibi Hatao’, the Punjab crisis, and the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, and the implementation of the Mandal Commission report are among the topics that do not find any mention in the syllabus.

An academician pointed out that though certain sections related to Congress and Nehru have been taken off, it would not diminish their stature or take away their contribution towards nation-building.

She said the revision process was free of political influence and this was evident from the deletion of topics like the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 for which Congress was targeted by opposition parties for long.

Deputy secretary (academic) at AHSEC, Anurupa Choudhury, said, “Our instructions to academicians was that the reduction (in syllabus) should be judicious so that exploration of learning materials and graded items are not distorted. Topics that are being repeated can be shortened.”

The guidelines clearly stated that the revision should not make the mistake of truncating important topics, she stressed.

AHSEC secretary Manoranjan Kakati clarified that the objective was to reduce exam stress on students because of the prolonged pandemic and also to prevent learning gaps. “This is a shortened syllabi for the final year exams for HS first and second year to be held in 2021,” he said.

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