Bengaluru, July 29, 2020: Archbishop Peter Machado on July 29 condemned the Karnataka government removing chapters on Jesus and Prophet Mohammed among other topics from the school syllabus of the southern Indian state.
In a major policy decision by the coalition government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party also removed chapters on legendary leaders of the state such as Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali.
The government has clarified the move was to lessen the burden on students by nearly 30 percent. The government has also announced that it would also remove chapters on freedom fighters to help students in the ongoing pandemic.
Archbishop Machado was among religious leaders, academicians and political leaders to decry the government decision
The government decision “looks like it is part of pre-fabricated agenda” not to teach children the religious tenets of Islam and Christianity and the contribution of the two religions to Indian society.
The prelate termed as sad that the government move deprives the school children to learn and absorb religious values so that they can become ambassadors of communal harmony and coexistence of people of various religions.
The government move violates the spirit of the Indian Constitution’s secular values. “It is not a good sign,” the prelate asserted.
The archbishop, who heads the Catholic Church in Karnataka, urged the state government to remove “other not so important content,” but retain chapters on religion.
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson Saleem Ahmed too condemned the government decision, which he said was unacceptable.
“The government is trying to use it as a cover up as it is unable to tackle its failures on all fronts, particularly the Coronavirus pandemic,” Ahmed alleged. He said his party would fight the move by uniting all opposition parties.
The Karnataka government had earlier formed a three-member committee to review the syllabus.
The government, however, clarified that it would not bring any change in the present academic year in view of the pandemic.
“The move is temporary,” says a letter issued later in the day by the Acting Director of the Karnataka Syllabus Association under the Department of Education.
The chapters on 18th century figures Tipu Sultan and his father Hyder Ali are included in the seventh grade social science textbook.
Although official sources claimed that chapters on Tipu Sultan have been retained in grades 6 and 10 books, the amended curriculum uploaded on the Karnataka Text Book Society (KTBS) website shows that chapter 5 that mentions Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan in the social sciences textbook of class 7 has been removed.
Furthermore, Karnataka government has also dropped lessons on Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed in the sixth grade saying students will study the same in grade 9. The Coronavirus pandemic has forced the education department to reduce class days to 120 in an academic year.
Tipu Sultan has been a polarizing figure in Karnataka where people’s opinion about him range from him being a fierce freedom fighter to a tyrannical despot.
Last year, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had asserted that his government planned to expunge references to Tipu Sultan from textbooks. According to him, Tipu Sultan doesn’t deserve a place in the school textbooks as he was not a freedom fighter.
Yediyurappa had in 2019 ordered cancellation of Tipu Jayanti celebrations in Karnataka, reversing the decision of the previous Congress government’s decision.
While the BJP considers Tipu Sultan, a Muslim, as a cruel oppressor who committed unspeakable atrocities against his Hindu subjects, the Congress party regards him as a freedom fighter.
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