Amid growing pressure to dissolve the textbook review committee headed by Rohith Chakrathirtha, Karnataka education minister B C Nagesh has promised to address the issue. Critics have been accusing Chakrathirtha of twisting facts and ‘saffronising’ textbooks. After political parties, writers and student organisations, seers have now joined the bandwagon to oppose the revised Kannada and social science textbooks in Class 10.
Responding to charges made by seers on distorting social reformer Basavanna’s teachings and insulting poet Kuvempu’s state anthem, Nagesh said, “I am ready to address any kind of differences that people have with the content and not the personality. I am talking to seers personally and giving them clarity about the changes made in textbooks. Moreover, once the review committee has suggested its changes and the copy has gone for printing, the process is over. We cannot change anything more after that. Already 74% of textbooks are printed and 66% of them have reached the block education office.”
In a letter addressed to Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, seer of Shri Tharalabalu Jagadhguru Shakha mutt Panditharadhya Shivacharya Swamy claimed that the ‘facts’ related to Basavanna mentioned in the Class 9 social science textbook are twisted. The seer expressed his objections to certain “distortions” in the teachings and beliefs of Basavanna as published in the social science textbook.
“It is clear that the current textbook review committee consists of members of one community. The committee should have reviewed textbooks based on the inputs of academic experts. Instead, changes are made based on caste equations and party politics. The revised textbook shows a misrepresented story of Basavanna’s propagation of Lingayatism and hides the real facts. The textbook says ‘scholars have introduced reforms to the Veera Shaiva caste’. Instead, it should have been ‘scholars introduced Lingayat dharma into the society. There are several changes like these that have reflected very poorly on the Lingayat community” said the seer who is requesting that the changes be removed and the content be brought back as per the previous textbook review committee. Nirmalananda Swamy of Adichunchanagiri Mutt has also written to Bommai seeking action against those who disrespected Kuvempu and his works online. In a letter addressed to Bommai, the seer said, “If someone is distorting the state anthem and disrespecting it, it is equal to disrespecting the national anthem itself and is a clear violation of the law of the land.” The letter comes after a few advocates recently filed a complaint against Rohith Chakrathirtha, who heads the textbook committee formed by the state education department, for disrespecting the state anthem by distorting its lyrics. A Facebook post put up by Chakrathirtha, ridiculing the lyrics of the anthem, had gone viral. The spoof of the state anthem, which he had shared, drew much criticism. However, the seer’s letter did not name any individual, but sought action against those who have indulged in such acts.
Earlier in the day, organizations including the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), All India Students’ Federation (AISF) and Karnataka Vokkaliga Sangha staged a protest at Freedom Park in Bengaluru demanding the resignation of education minister Nagesh and dissolution of the textbook committee headed by Chakrathirtha.