“I take criticisms against me very positively”: Rohith Chakrathirtha on the ongoing textbook row in Karnataka 

Speaking to Indian Express, Rohith Chakrathira writer and chairman of the Karnataka textbook review committee, said that he was prepared for the criticisms at the time of reviewing the textbook and the critics (indicating the Congress and other organizations opposing the textbook review process) are not able to digest the new changes introduced in the textbooks. 

“I was expecting that criticism would follow when the committee decided to include lessons on KB Hedgewar and Chakravarthy Sulibele. However,  I did not expect it would be blown out of proportion in a way where caste politics are at play. Until yesterday, the opposition ruled the academia and the literature scene. But now when we have introduced changes and added a new dimension, they are not able to take it. There have been a lot of personal attacks on me but I am taking all of them positively,” says Chakrathirtha. 

Responding to the accusation of ‘Brahmanising’ the textbooks, Chakrathirtha said, “During Bargauru Ramachandrappa’s period, there were about 16 authors including Masthi Venkatesha Iyengar, AK Ramanujan, UR Ananthamurthy who were Brahmins and their works were included in the class 8 textbooks. Why did no one raise the issue of Brahmininsation of textbooks then? 

Moreover, after assessing the textbooks from class 1 to 10 during Ramachandrappa’s period, I have observed he had removed the works of 33 non-brahmin writers.” 

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In fact, Chakrathirtha is now gearing up to review the II PUC textbooks after analyzing the content in detail. Responding to the criticism of not having an education background, he said, ” I pursued M.Sc from a college based in Tamil Nadu and I later started working as a mathematics lecturer in three colleges in Bengaluru. I was also working with an education platform, training students for competitive exams such as CET, IIT, Olympiad among others.”

Meanwhile, a member of Barguru Ramchandrappa’s Karanata textbook review committee, Prajval Shastri, hit out at the changes made to the textbooks and called them a disaster. Ïn a series of tweets, she said, “The Karnataka school textbook disaster is an unnecessary, anti-student, created disaster based on faulty rationale & the outcome of an unprecedented faulty process. When schools open the students must have their text books. 

If there were “errors” they should have been corrected in time for the students to have them. No reason has been given for a full review of the textbooks, nor indeed was there any reason.” She also points out that the constitution of Ramachandrappa’s committee was triggered by an unscientific claim in the science textbook, which said that the mythical figure Drona in the Mahabharatha was a test-tube baby which was evidence for in-vitro fertilization being done in ancient India. 

Criticizing the textbook revision row in Karnataka, senior BJP leader and former minister, K.S. Eshwarappa on Thursday asked if a lesson on Muhammad Ali Jinnah should also be included in the syllabus. Defending the inclusion of Hedgewar’s speech, Eshwarappa said, “It was to introduce the culture of the land and patriotism to the students.  Do you think there should be a lesson included on Mughal king Aurangazeb who destroyed Shivling? If Hedgewar’s ideologies were not spread in the country, our nation would have been divided by now.”

Meanwhile, KPCC president DK Shivakumar appealed to all education experts and think tanks to raise their voice against the government’s attempt to manipulate the education system. He slammed the BJP government in Karnataka for ‘politicizing the education system with right-wing agendas’. He stressed that while the government was busy implementing the ‘Nagpur Education Policy’, while the schools are being run in dilapidated conditions and poor infrastructure. 


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