Dropping of chapters on democracy, secularism by CBSE triggers controversy

A controversy erupted on Wednesday over the reduction of syllabus by the CBSE due to the COVID-19 situation, with the Opposition alleging that chapters on India’s democracy and plurality are being “dropped” to propagate a particular ideology, but the Board insisted it is a one-time measure for this academic year only and is not restricted to a particular subject as is being projected by some.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had announced that it had rationalised the syllabus for Classes 9 to 12 for the 2020-21 session by up to 30 per cent to make up for the academic loss caused due to COVID-19.

However, it was the decision to drop topics related to Social Sciences which drew sharp reaction from opposition parties like the Congress, Left, Trinamool Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena.

Congress said removal of chapters on Federalism, Secularism, Nationalism and citizenship, which are the pillars of Indian democracy, is a crude joke on democracy and is highly condemnable.

Singhvi said that he would challenge the action in court in his individual capacity and not on behalf of the Congress.

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury termed the CBSE move as “atrocious” and “unacceptable”.

“Using the pandemic, Modi government is deleting sections dealing with India’s diversity, plurality, democracy etc that uphold our Constitutional values,” he tweeted.

He alleged that it is being done to advance the “RSS vision of an exclusivist, theocratic, intolerant, fascistic nation. This is nothing but the destruction of our Constitution”.

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said while reducing syllabus workload was a welcome, it should not become become an excuse to curtail different streams of thoughts. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also objected to the CBSE’s decision to drop topics such as “citizenship”, “federalism” and “partition” .

“Shocked to know that the Central Govt has dropped topics like Citizenship, Federalism, Secularism & Partition in the name of reducing CBSE course during #COVIDCrisis. We strongly object to this & appeal @HRDMinistry, GoI to ensure these vital lessons aren’t curtailed at any cost,” Banerjee said in a tweet.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the CBSE should explain the rationale behind dropping certain chapters from the school curriculum.

“Social science is one discipline where there is maximum scope of controversy and I agree that no matter which topics are chosen or left out, the questions are bound to be raised. Hence the board should have been careful and explain its rationale for dropping certain topics,”  the AAP leader said.

NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said the saffron party might even “rewrite history” in future. BSP leader Kunwar Danish Ali took a dig at the Human Resource Development Ministry saying it wants education based on ‘WhatsApp university’ forwards.

Amid the row on the issue, the CBSE said the reduction of syllabus from classes 9 to 12 has been interpreted differently. “Contrary to some of the impressions being created, it is clarified that the rationalization of syllabus up to 30 per cent has been undertaken for nearly 190 subjects for the academic session 2020-21 as a one-time measure only,” CBSE Secretary Anurag Tripathi said.