A Deletion of the Fundamental Ideals of the Constitution
Updated: Aug 22
[This article is authored by Mr. Ishan Fouzdar, Christ University]
Owing to the extraordinary situation, said Mr. Pokhriyal, CBSE was advised to revise the curriculum and reduce the course load. Being an obedient Government institution, CBSE "rationalised" the curriculum for classes 9th to 12th, giving rationalism a different definition altogether. Fundamental chapters such as Democracy and Diversity, Gender Religion, and Caste were completely deleted from 10th syllabus. The ideas laid down in the historic Objectives Resolution moved by Jawaharlal Nehru as the very first motion in the Constituent Assembly, upon which The Indian Constitution was built were taken apart from the curriculum of 11th and 12th with the complete deletion of Secularism, Nationalism, Federalism, Citizenship, Regional Aspirations, Foreign Relations, etc.
Let's first analyze the deletion in the Civics portion of the 9th and 10th. The chapters deleted from the Civics portion of the 9th and 10th raise some serious issues. These chapters dealt with the idea of diversity and conflict. India breeds a diversity second to none in the global scene and if at all a comparative study had to be made, USSR (which eventually broke down) came the closest to the diverse society of India. When India was at the brim of its inception there were sinister views of India crumbling down following the exit of the British from the elite classes of the world. John Strachey's view summarises the predominant idea of India as the world understood it then; according to Strachey, 'India' was merely a label, 'a name which we give to a great region including a multitude of different countries' adding to that Strachey also said to his audience at Cambridge, ‘This is the first and most essential thing to learn about India- that there is not and never was an India'(Guha, 2017). Ramchandra Guha calls India an ‘Unnatural Nation’ because the diversity which was supposed to take India down became the binding thread of the nation. Hence, the idea of Indian diversity and the role that it has played in the blooming of the nation is not a simple five-page read, it’s a rather complex and beautiful study that requires a strong foundation to begin with. The chapters deleted from the 9th and 10th curriculum laid down this foundation for further understanding the idea of Indian diversity and with them gone, a systematic approach to make India ‘Uniform’ seems to be underway. The difference between the terms ‘uniformity’ and ‘unity’ is scarcely understood and if I were to put it in the shortest possible way- unity shakes hands with diversity while uniformity handcuffs it. This basic understanding of the overused phrase “Unity in Diversity” was scribbled in these chapters and removing them is removing virtually a part of India from the textbooks.
Religion, Gender, and Caste: A to-be Mythical Trinity
Notwithstanding the beautiful diversity India has, there are conflicts that arise and are bound to arise in a diverse and democratic society. The chapter Religion Gender and Caste sketched out the three main axes of conflicts in India and how politics played out between them. This chapter is timeless and demonstrated to students that India is not an ideal egalitarian utopian country, it has its flaws and chinks. To solve a problem, the first step is to recognize it, the second step is to acknowledge it and the third step is to understand its roots. The problems of caste, gender, and religion have already made through the first two steps, this chapter laid the foundation for the third step- Understanding the roots. Henceforth, the removal of this chapter is, if not destruction of democracy, a sure dismantling of it, because democracy works on the ideals of accommodation and dialogue and dialogue is only possible when you understand what you are talking about. With these chapters gone, the very idea of conflict would be alien to students.
Popular struggles and Challenges to Democracy showed two flip sides of the idea of governance which swept across the 20th century- Democracy. Popular struggles underlined the importance of democracy vis-à-vis its basic tenets. The chapter then went on to sight the struggles for democratic governments around the world giving prominent examples of Nepal and Bolivia. Challenges to democracy on the other hand went on to highlight the flaws that democracy has and the various challenges it faces. Together these two chapters gave students a well-balanced understanding of democracy and democratic governments. It’s difficult to predict what understanding of democracy would a student have without these chapters or if at all he/she will have any understanding. Democracy taught only as an ideology is incomplete and incompatible. Only after real-life events and examples have been cited can there be justice to the broad understanding of this idea and only then would students grasp the entirety of the picture.
Assault on the Idea of India
One fails to understand what a kid who bravely chose Humanities in 11th grade would have to face after he goes through his 2 years without understanding the basics tenets on which India was built and which India still upholds. A keen observation of the deletion vis-à-vis curriculum of 11th and 12th would reveal the great assault on the very idea of India and the ideas which are synonymous to the nation. The junior classes gave an overview to the students regarding broad ideas such as democracy, democratic rights, etc. and the senior classes(11th and 12th) paid attention to specific individual concepts. Hence making the entire structure of political science sound and well built. However, the huge layoffs in the subject by CBSE has obliterated the entire structure and seems to be based on the principle of ‘why let a sabotaged building stand at all.” The deletion of chapters such as Secularism, Nationalism, Federalism, and Citizenship is by no means rationalising, it is a complete rip-off of the soul of the Indian Constitution.
Federal, Quasi-Federal Who cares?
Federalism is a complex idea because of its dynamicity and the changing thought process of political ideologies. It is also important to mention that western ideas such as federalism, secularism, etc. wear different hats in the west and different hats in India. It was the ingenuity of the Forefathers and Foremothers of our Constitution to tweak the western ideas in order to adopt them in India which also stands as a rebut to the critics who term the Constitution as a work of duplication and manipulation. Indian Federal Structure is poles apart from America’s Federal Structure and is difficult to understand in that context. The chapter on Federalism dealt with the federal structure of India in detail, enabling students to understand what hat federalism wore in India. It dealt with center-state relations and also the role governor plays which is very important to understand the recent political crises in Maharashtra and Karnataka. The chapter also dealt with Article 356, the Emergency provisions, and the special case of Jammu and Kashmir. The chapter demonstrated the central bias in our federal structure (because of which it is sometimes called quasi-federal) and even goes on to state 257(1) and TT Krishnamachari on it. With all of that removed, how does one expect a student to understand the idea of federalism in India or even pronounce if India is federal or quasi-federal? Without the assistance of this chapter, it would be virtually impossible for students to grasp the dynamic idea of federalism and how it applies to countries to save India. Finally, the sui generis nature of Indian Federalism as DD Basu calls it (Basu, 2020) or Cooperative Federalism as Granville Austin calls it (Austin, 2019), is impossible to understand without digging deep into the idea. With the directions given by CBSE to touch upon the deleted concepts in order to establish connectivity with other chapters is an utter failure on the part of our policymakers; Federalism cannot be touched upon and understood on a whim, let alone connect with other chapters. Hence, the students have been deprived of an entire idea and not just a chapter!
Citizenship, Nationalism, and Secularism: The inter-twined disappearance
Citizenship, Nationalism, and Secularism form a paramount part of the Indian Constitution. The reason I group these three chapters together is that these ideas have developed overlapping spectrums since the ’90s with the rise of Hindu Nationalism. With growing alienation towards the minority communities, the emergence of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, and the coalition of Nationalism and Religion, these three chapters are by far the most important chapters for understanding India’s messed up political scenario. These chapters went into an in-depth understanding of the three ideas and how they had unfolded in India. Similarly, like federalism, Indian secularism is way off the European model of secularism and the difference is dealt with in the chapter. Nationalism is a concept that has been propagated without a proper understanding of it. Bluntly proclaiming nationalism as good or bad is doing complete injustice to the ideology and the chapter dealt with grey areas of nationalism that remain predominantly unexplored by the so-called Nationalists today. Citizenship is a huge area of study which the chapter encapsulated comprehensively, with the ideas of citizenship out there and what India adopted. The CAA has enjoined citizenship with religion as a result of the radical Hindu-nationalism. This enjoinment of the three concepts viz secularism, citizenship, and nationalism is a huge territory to explore and without the understanding of these three ideas individually it is simply not feasible to understand the enjoined idea. These chapters laid the foundation to understand Contemporary issues like that of CAA. How can someone who hasn't had the foundation right, begin to understand these complex issues? Let alone solve them.
An Unfillable Unfathomable Void
Notwithstanding the extraneous situation we are in, the cut down especially in the political science curriculum of classes 9th to 12th is an ignorant and abhorrent move by the CBSE. Rationalisation of the syllabus was surely done but predominantly in science and maths portions where scarcely any chapters were completely deleted. In these subjects, few units from chapters were deleted while the rest of the chapter survived. This brought down the syllabus but at the same time conserving the core concept of the chapter. For example, in Coordinate Geometry, from the chapter of Straight lines Shifting of origin and one other subunit was removed but not the entire chapter; this conserved the core idea of straight lines and also reduced the syllabus.
The directions given by CBSE to school heads for teachers to explain the core ideas of the deleted chapters so as to establish a connection with other chapters is merely a formality and also an impossibility. You cannot, after deleting an entire chapter expect the teacher to teach the core idea of that chapter without explaining the different dimensions of the idea, the factors which led to that idea, and the application of that idea in different contexts. Explanation of an idea is not simply stating what the idea is and surely not in political science. Hence, on one hand, you tell the teacher that the chapters aren’t in the curriculum so finish up the course in the given time (which has enormously been reduced due to online classes), and on the other, you also tell her to explain the core concepts of the deleted chapters without teaching that chapters in the same time frame. The fathom of ignorance on the part of CBSE to not pay heed to the fact that concepts such as Secularism and Federalism cannot simply be explained without thorough understanding is enormous. One cannot simply tell a political science student of 11th grade that Federalism is but the distribution of powers between the organs of government and move on with it, this definition does not even start to scratch the surface of this idea.
Hence, CBSE vis-à-vis reducing the burden of the curriculum, while coming up with a solution of rationalisation and applying it to Science and Mathematics turned its back when it came to Political Science. This move prima facie seems to systematically deprive students of their critical understanding in the political arena and creates a huge void of understanding in the curriculum.
 India After Gandhi by Ramchandra Guha
 Introduction to Indian Constitution by Durga Das Basu
 The Indian Constitution by Granville Austin
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