Misleading claims about Brahmins removed in rationalised NCERT textbooks

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), which is responsible for preparing textbooks for Indian students, has removed dubious claims about Brahmins from its 6th Standard book.

The development comes a year after RTI activist Vivek Pandey filed a query with the autonomous government organisation, seeking written evidence for sweeping claims about Hindu priests and ‘ill-treatment’ of women and shudras in ancient India.

The NCERT in its reply to the RTI query acknowledged that it had no evidence to support the claim that Hindu priests divided people into varnas and that women and shudras were not allowed to study the Vedas.

NCERT and its disinformation targeting Brahmins

At that time, NCERT had assured that the misleading information would be removed in the subsequent, rationalised version of the textbook. OpIndia can confirm that the 2023-2024 edition of the 6th Standard NCERT textbook ‘History-Our Past I’ reflects the necessary changes.

The contentious material appeared in Chapter 5 titled ‘Kingdoms, Kings and an Early Republic (Pages 44-45)’ of the textbook. It was claimed that the Hindu priests (Brahmins) divided the people into groups called varnas and told them that varnas were determined by birth.

The NCERT textbook also alleged that women were ‘grouped’ with Shudras and that they were not allowed to study the Vedas. It was also declared that the priests classified some people as ‘untouchables.’

NCERT removes misleading content

In the rationalised version of the textbook (2023-2024 edition), the disinformation peddled against Brahmins was removed.

The misleading text was changed with the following extract:

There were four social categories, namely Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. Brahmins were expected to study (and teach) the Vedas, perform sacrifices and receive gifts. Kshatriyas were expected to fight battles and protect people. Vaishyas were expected to be farmers, herders, and traders. The Shudras were expected to serve the other three groups.

It must be mentioned that the NCERT had acknowledged in 2022 that the assertions involving Hindu priests, women and Shudras had no basis.

“Since original draft of manuscript does not provide detailed references, it would be difficult to share the original source of claims,” it replied to the RTI query by Vivek Pandey.

Professor Gouri Srivastava, the Head of Department of Education in Social Sciences (DESS) of NCERT, had assured that the contentious section of the 6th standard textbook would be removed.

“We would like to inform you that taking into consideration the learning loss caused due to Covid 19 pandemic, the Department of Education in Social Sciences, rationalized its syllabi and textbooks in all subjects, for the next year across the stages. As part of this exercise, some content/chapters in history were merged while some other content/chapters were dropped. The statements for which you are seeking evidences will no longer be part of the history textbook for class VI from the next academic session,” she said in the RTI reply.

Source: OpIndia

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