NCERT asserts right to modify textbooks, rejects former advisors’ request for name removal

New Delhi, Jun 10 : Reacting to objections from two former chief advisors who sought to have their names removed from the political science textbooks due to “irrational cuts and large deletions,” the Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) on Friday emphasised its right to make changes based on copyright ownership and stated that the “withdrawal of association by any one member is out of the question,” given that the textbooks are the product of a collective effort. Suhas Palshikar and Yogendra Yadav, who served as chief advisors for the political science books for classes 9 to 12 initially published in 2006-07, expressed their concerns in a addressed to NCERT director DS Saklani on Friday. In the letter, they stated that they were unable to find any pedagogic justification for the recent textbook rationalization exercise and expressed embarrassment at being associated with what they described as “mutilated and academically dysfunctional” books. Responding to this, the Council released a public statement on Friday night, highlighting that the textbook development committees (of which Yadav and Palshikar were members) ceased to exist once the books were published, and the copyright of the educational materials has since remained with the Council independent of the committee. It further said that all members of the textbook development committee had agreed to this arrangement in writing. “The roles of the members of the Textbook Development Committees in various capacities…were limited to advising on how to design and develop the textbooks or contributing to the development of their contents and not beyond this. Textbooks at the school level are ‘developed' based on the state of our knowledge and understanding of a given subject. Therefore, at no stage is individual authorship claimed, hence the withdrawal of association by any one member is out of the question,” the NCERT statement reads. Furthermore, the Council clarified that it continues to print the names of all advisors and members of the committee in all textbooks to acknowledge their academic contribution and “for the sake of record.” The NCERT school textbooks are at the center of yet another controversy, with academicians and politicians criticizing the sweeping changes and deletions decided last year (and implemented this year) under the pretext of reducing the curriculum to help students recover from learning disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. These changes include removing all references to the 2002 Gujarat riots, reducing content related to the Mughal era and the caste system, and dropping chapters on protests and social movements.