Amarinder takes opposition head on over school history books issue

Devinder Singh Kohli | April 30, 2018 06:21 PM
Amarinder takes opposition head on over school history books issue


Chandigarh, Taking the Opposition head-on over the issue of Sikh Gurus in school history books, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday trashed their vile allegations, and warned them against harming the interests of the state by playing politics on an issue involving religious sentiments and sensitivities.

The Chief Minister minced no words in lambasting Akali president Sukhbir Singh Badal for his baseless statements on the issue, which he said had the potential to disturb the peace and harmony of the state. He also condemned the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for joining the vilification campaign against the government without bothering to verify the facts of the matter.

Lashing out at the parties and their leaders for their shameless and reckless statements, the Chief Minister expressed shock at their blatant efforts to mislead the people of the state. In the process, they were also playing with the careers and lives of school children by dragging them into a needless controversy, he added.

In a statement issued here, the Chief Minister countered the unfounded claims of the Opposition with hard facts. He pointed out that it was during the Akalis regime, in 2014, when the decision to realign the courses with the NCERT syllabus was taken. Further, the SGPC was party to all the discussions on the issue since his government took over in March last year, said Captain Amarinder.

It was on January 9, 2014 that an expert committee was proposed to be set up to discuss the issue of realignment and to finalise the History syllabus from Class IX to XII, said the Chief Minister, adding that the subject was discussed by the committee over a series of meetings held thereafter, with inputs taken from the Director (Assistant professor, NCERT). The syllabus thus finalised was uploaded on the Board’s website in March 2014. The SGPC had then objected to the syllabus finalised for Class IX in 2015, while there was no consensus achieved on the course for other classes. Eventually, after re-doing the syllabus, the books for Classes IX and X were published by the Board in 2016, and those of Classes XI and XII were decided to be published in 2018.

The Chief Minister further disclosed that soon after taking over the state’s reins, his government had written to SGPC in March 2017 for discussion on the issue of the History course realignment, given the sensitive nature of the subject. In response, the SGPC had deputed Prof Paramveer Singh of Panjabi University Patiala, who attended all the meetings held to deliberate on the matter, said Captain Amarinder, flaying Longonwal for deliberately hiding the real facts on the issue for the sake of promoting his vested political ambitions.

Contrary to what was being wilfully wrongly projected by the Opposition as well as the SGPC, his government had taken every precaution, in the process of the syllabus realignment, to ensure that there is no dilution of Sikh religious history in the course study, the Chief Minister said.

Nailing the Opposition’s lies on the issue, the Chief Minister said the Class XI history book they were citing and quoting in support of their allegations had not even been printed yet. Their charges that the chapters on the Sikh Gurus were missing from the books were an obvious lie which they were trying to peddle as a truth with their false propaganda, he added.

The Chief Minister made it clear that the entire history of the Sikh Gurus has been retained in the realigned syllabus, with no cutting or pruning done. The chapters and materials on Sikh history had been organised in a more cohesive format for ease of learning, across Classes XI and XII, he added.

Following the realignment, the entire period from Guru Nanak Devi ji to Guru Gobind Singh ji, and martyrdom of the four Sahibzadas, are now being taught in Class XI in a coherent manner, he said, adding that the history of the four Sahibzadas had been incorporated on his personal recommendation. In fact, also on his personal suggestion, the Class X history has now incorporated information on the Sargarhi Battle and the noted Sikh General Sham Singh Attariwala, said the Chief Minister.

Clarifying that the entire period of Sikh history is now being taught at the Secondary and Senior Secondary levels, the Chief Minister pointed out that the outline of any syllabus prepared by a Board or University is based on themes and not chapters. The chapters are created by printers and publishers as per their own choice and convenience, he said, trashing the Opposition’s claims on reduction in chapters on the Sikh Gurus.

The Chief Minister said he had personally sought a detailed mapping of the old syllabus of Class XI in New syllabus for Class XII and also of the old syllabus of Class XII in New syllabus for Class XI. Both clearly showed that not a single piece of information on the Sikh history or the Sikh Gurus had been dropped in the process of realignment.

What is more, to ensure that there is no mutilation of Sikh history and culture, the government has handed over the task of printing of these books to the Punjab State Education Board (PSEB), which was earlier not involved in the process, leaving it to private publishers to print the books and sell them at exorbitant prices.

With PSEB taking over the printing of history books, not only has the cost come down to less than one-fourth but the authenticity of the content is also assured, said the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister further said that he and his government have the highest regard for the Gurus and will never do anything that mitigates their contribution to the country and the Sikh religion.

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