The Central Board of Secondary Education, kowtowing to the Union HRD minister, has afforded a spin on detoxification of learning. It would be no exaggeration to suggest that if a supposedly pragmatic school of learning has its way, education will be imparted in keeping with the establishment’s priorities.
Towards that ignoble objective, one that is bound to militate against holistic learning in the higher stages of schooling, such topics of tremendous contemporary import, pre-eminently democratic rights, diversity and demonetisation are to be dropped. While the first two impinge on social history, the third has been a critical facet of economic history ever since November 2016.
The conventional narrative of kings and the battles they fought had been reduced to irrelevance long before subaltern studies became an erudite branch of history. Among the topics that are to be deleted from the syllabi for Classes 9 to 12 are federalism, nationalism, gender, religion, caste, food security, the Partition, the role of peasants, zamindars and the State (as an entity of governance), and the fairly recent embroidery called the Goods and Services Tax.
More basically, demonetisation and GST have blighted contemporary economic history. The perception of the Bharatiya Janata Party on the other issues has been radically different. The Union HRD minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishant’s cavil that “uninformed comment” has greeted the decision of the Union government, will cut no ice.
The fact that disruption of the academic schedule has compelled the Government to devise what has turned out to be a selectively truncated syllabi is a facile excuse for the decidedly ideological underpinning. At the end of the day, it is the student who will suffer considerably on account of selective learning. Considering the importance of such disciplines as political science, sociology and business studies in the Plus 2 stage, quite the most damaging is the deletion of such issues as India’s economic development, recent social movements, and ties with neighbours.
The study of sociology will have to make do without a focus on the facets of Indian democracy, globalisation and social change. In the study of economics, the concepts that had introduced the formulation of GST and demonetisation have been relegated to the footnotes. It is hard not to wonder whether the deleted topics will be wholly untaught at the school level.
By citing the pandemic, the government has bowdlerised sections that deal with the country’s diversity, plurality and democracy, indeed certitudes that uphold our constitutional values. If carried to its conclusion, the new Higher Secondary syllabus is a half-baked blueprint.
Mamata Banerjee’s tweet is, therefore, significant ~ “Shocked to know that the central government has dropped topics like citizenship, federalism, secularism and Partition in the name of reducing the CBSE course during the Covid crisis”. However devastating the medical emergency, it is a weak alibi to justify an ideologically driven search of learning.