Politicizing Education: Party ideology to school curriculum

CBSE drwas criticism over “misogynistic text” in the class 10 board exam paper, focus on BJP for politicizing education

The Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) on Monday, dropped a comprehension passage in Its class 10 English exam, that was flagged off in parliament by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi as having a “ shockingly regressive” view on women. This however is not the first time that a government has drawn flak over issues with the school curriculum.

Sonia Gandhi speaking in Parliament about the issue

In 2015, soon after the BJP government came to power, the Prime Minister appointed a little-known scholar as the chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research. The greatest qualification of Yellapragada Sudershan Rao was his closeness to a staunch Hindu outfit called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, according to a report published in the Washington Post.

Rao is credited with having proposed the addition of Indian mythology like the Mahabharata and Ramayana as a historical fact.

This is similar to what the Congress-led UPA government had done all the years they ruled preceding independence where most history books lean into the notion that the Congress played a pivotal role in the independence movement and later even portrayed incidents like the 1975 emergency in a brighter light. Incidents such as the rise of Bhindranwale were disconnected to his ties with Mrs Gandhi, among other things,

The ruling dispensation has in India made incremental changes to the central board’s curriculum in order to skew public opinion towards the ruling dispensation.

Therefore, today when the CBSE draws criticism over publishing a passage marred with “misogynistic” and ill meant notions portraying women as the root cause of all evil, it is assumed this too might have something to do with the ideology which the incumbent government follows. This ideology is also retained from the RSS’s ideology which is the parent organization from which the BJP was carved out.

Tweet by Swati Maliwal, Chairperson, Delhi Commission of Women

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat as a response to rapes happening in India had said, “Crimes against women happening in urban India are shameful. It is a dangerous trend. But such crimes won’t happen in Bharat or the rural areas of the country. You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gang-rape or sex crimes,”

He also added that, “A husband and wife are involved in a contract under which the husband has said that you should take care of my house and I will take care of all your needs. I will keep you safe. So, the husband follows the contract terms. Till the time, the wife follows the contract, the husband stays with her, if the wife violates the contract, he can disown her.” Watch more:

This ideology has been projected in the English board exam paper given by the CBSE which in its last paragraph states that “the emancipation of the wife destroyed the parent’s authority over the children. The mother did not exemplify the obedience upon which she still tried to insist….In bringing the man down from his pedestal the wife and mother deprived herself, the means of discipline.:

In an article for India Today, Human rights activist and Educator, Saira Shah Halim, said: “It is time India takes note of this deep-rooted malaise, normalising the issue by including sexist regressive passages in school syllabi or subjecting the youth to ponder upon utter balderdash is a sign that we are only regressing as a nation.”

She further added that,

It is no secret that the BJP wanted to rewrite history, as last year the CBSE was in the eye of a storm as it rationalised its syllabus to reduce course load on students for Classes 9 to 12 by controversially dropping chapters on democracy and diversity, demonetisation, nationalism, secularism, India’s relationship with its neighbours and growth of local governments in India, among others.

The CBSE issued a notice removing the passage and warding full marks to those who attempted it a few minutes after Congress interim President raised the issue in parliament and flagged the matter as regressive.