A storm erupted over the Karnataka textbook revision

Basavaraj Bommai, the Karnataka chief minister, intervened on June 3 to defuse an escalating row over revised school textbooks. Writers and religious seers expressed concerns about the content while activists and students’ organizations staged street protests to demand that the BJP government in the state revert to the earlier texts.

A look at how the controversy unfolded.

Reexamine, reexamine

The textbooks for classes 1 to 10 in Karnataka were last revised in 2017-18 after an extensive exercise that began in 2014 under the Congress government led by former chief minister Siddaramaiah. In total, 27 committees of subject experts participated in the process.

There was a review committee for those textbooks formed by the BJP dispensation in 2021. According to the Karnataka Textbook Society, the exercise involved revising Kannada language textbooks for grades 1 to 10 and social science textbooks for grades 6 to 10.

The textbooks published in 2014 underwent a revision the same year due to political reasons, states a foreword to the new books, which are now available online. The Karnataka government formed a committee mandating a re-review of these textbooks in 2021, considering there were widespread concerns that such textbook revision was aimed at propagating a certain ideology that benefited self-interests.

The changes to the texts sparked controversy last month, with critics alleging a “saffronization” of the text in addition to the fact that some writers were dropped and others were added.