The new NCERT textbooks are dotted with references to decisions and flagship programmes of the NDA-II government.
Of the 13 references spotted by The Indian Express as part of its analysis of 25 textbooks for Classes 6 to 10, the majority were devoted to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, followed by Namami Gange Programme, Digital India, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana on skilling, and demonetisation.
Earlier, the NCERT did include references to flagship schemes of the UPA government in textbooks. For instance, NREGA (now known as MNREGA) was added to the Class 11 Economics textbook, the National Food Security Act 2013 was included in Chapter 4 of the class 9 Economics textbook and the Right to Information Act in chapter 5 of the Class 10 Political Science textbook.
However, there weren’t multiple references made to the same scheme in different textbooks as seen with NDA -II schemes. These additions have been made to the Geography, Science, Political Science, Economics and English books and are part of the textbook review — the first since 2007 — undertaken last year by the NCERT, which advises the union government on school education.
Here are the key changes:
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has been introduced in five textbooks. A small box, added to the chapter on human life in the tropical and subtropical regions, in the Class 7 Geography textbook states, “To accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage and to put fours on sanitation, the Prime Minister of India launched the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ on 02nd October 2014.”
Chapter 6 of the Class 6 Geography book reads: “Healthy mind lives in healthy body and for a healthy body clean environment particularly clean water, air and hygienic surroundings are pre-requisites. Swachh Bharat Mission, a government of India programme aims to achieve all these for people.” This chapter is on the major landforms of the Earth such as mountains, plateau and the plains. The reference to the NDA-II government’s cleanliness mission has been added to a section titled ‘Landforms and the People’.
That apart, Swachh Bharat Mission also makes an appearance in the chapter titled ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out’ of the Class 6 science book, in the chapter on urban administration in political science book for Class 6 students and chapter 18 on waste water treatment in the Class 7 science textbook.
The NDA-II government’s controversial decision to demonetise all Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes in 2016 is mentioned (about 260 words) in the prelude to the chapter titled ‘Money and Credit’ in the Class 10 Economics book.
“In India, during November 2016, currency notes in the denomination of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 were declared invalid. People were asked to surrender these notes to the bank by a specific period and receive new Rs 500, Rs 2,000 or other currency notes. This is known as ‘demonetisation’. Since then, people were also encouraged to use their bank deposits rather than cash for transactions. Hence, digital transactions started by using bank-to-bank transfer through the internet or mobile phones, cheques, ATM cards, credit cards, and Point of Sale (POS) swipe machines at shops. This is promoted to reduce the requirement of cash for transactions and also control corruption. Students could be asked to debate on the process and the impact of demonetisation. They can be guided to make a collage of the major areas where people use digital and cash transactions which are legitimate and legal,” the chapter reads.
Digital India makes an appearance twice. The old version of the class 10 geography textbook, Chapter 7 (‘Lifelines of National Economy’) had a small trivia box which read, “Till March 2010, 548.32 million mobile connections were in India. Make a comparison with any other country of your choice.”
This has now been replaced with, “Digital India is an umbrella programme to prepare India for a knowledge based transformation. The focus of Digital India Programme is on being transformative to realise – IT (Indian Talent) + IT (Information Technology) = IT (India Tomorrow) and is on making technology central to enabling change.”
The IT+IT = IT is a slogan used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the launch of the computerised case management system of the Supreme Court on May 10, 2017.
Interestingly, the Digital India initiative also pops up in Chapter 1 of the Class 9 English textbook. The chapter is a story set in the future when schools and books as we now know may not exist. In the exercise section, students are introduced to the government’s efforts to “digitalise cash transactions to buy things and pay bills”. They are then asked to do a project in which they will have to collect opinions of people on use of digital services in their daily life.
Namami Gange has been mentioned in three textbooks. There’s a reference to the programme in chapter 16 (‘Sustainable Management of Natural Resources’) of the Class 10 science textbooks, in chapter 8 (‘Human Environment Interactions — The Tropical and the Sub-tropical Regions’) of Class 7 geography book and, lastly, in the chapter on air and water pollution in the Class 8 science book.
Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana have been added to the Class 7 political science textbook and Class 8 geography textbook, respectively.
NCERT has made roughly 1,334 changes, which include additions, correction and data update, in its 182 textbooks for classes 1 to 12. Of these, the maximum changes (573) have been made to science books, followed by social science (316) and Sanskrit textbooks (163).