New Delhi, Jan. 28. — The National Council of Education and Research Training has decided to purge its textbooks of “derogatory” references to Dalits.
The educational body has decided to remove the word chamar from Hindi textbooks of class IX and XI. The controversial word used in Premchand’s Rangbhumi has been replaced by less offensive Dalit.
The NCERT has also decided to incorporate chapters from famous Dalit writers in school textbooks. However, interestingly the word chamar has not been replaced in their writings as has been done in Premchand’s works. In Om Prakash Balmiki’s (Dalit writer) Khanabadhosh, for instance, a footnote has been provided stating that “the word is constitutionally banned and should not be practised in social behaviour”.
Speaking to The Statesman, NCERT’s head of languages department, Professor Ramjanam Sharma, said the council has made a great effort to incorporate Dalit literature in the syllabus without raking any controversy.
“We have edited a lot in the writings after witnessing hue and cry over the word chamar in Rangbhumi. We have edited out the word except in the opening sentence,” he added.
Elaborating on the need to promote Dalit writers in the syllabus of Classes IX and XI, Prof Sharma said efforts are being made to sensitise students towards the marginalised status of backward communities.
He said these writers feel only they can truly understand the trauma of belonging to a backward community in a Brahmanical society. Commenting on the editing of these texts, Prof Sharma categorically stated that the use of the word Dalit was not approved by academicians, but they could not shy away from the social reality.
A Dalit poet, Ms Nirmla Putul’s poem “Aao mil kar Bachaye” has also secured a place in the class XI syllabus in both core and elective Hindi textbooks.
“The poem deals with the exploitation of tribals and their displacement from their righteous habitat at the hands of the government. Jyoti ba Phole’s autobiography has also been incorporated in Class XI,” revealed Prof Sharma. The textbooks, with the proposed changes, will be ready for distribution in the upcoming academic session. Pragya Kaushika/ SNS