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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Is the import of wokeism in Bharatiya school textbooks a worrying trend?

Wokeism is increasingly making its presence felt in Bhartiya school textbooks. We have barely begun to cleanse our history textbooks of the avalanche of lies and propaganda perpetuated by the communist ecosystem, and we seem to have yet another problem at hand.

Wokeism in Bhartiya school textbooks is making its presence felt in the form of social sciences text explaining concepts such as equality, equity, democracy, human rights, gender justice, social activism, the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, etc. While these concepts certainly need to be explained to kids, indoctrination of 10-12-year-olds by vested interests in the garb of making kids familiar with these concepts is a dangerous precedent.

Wokeism has hijacked social sciences. In the west, social sciences have become deeply entrenched in the web of wokeism, an unholy alliance of capitalism and communism that seeks to create a market and push for all sorts of extreme ideas by pushing these down the throats of the young and impressionable.

An article published by Hindupost in November 2021 explains rather aptly the woke push to hijack the social science curriculum of school textbooks in Bharat. The point is there is a whole nexus of vested interests involved in the structuring of this curriculum. While including such concepts in Bharatiya textbooks, we are not following an indigenous approach rooted in our own cultural context. Rather, we are uncritically importing American ideas of wokeism into our school textbooks and poisoning the minds of kids and the youth.

Noted authors Rajiv Malhotra and Vijaya Vishwanathan expose the wokeism in the US educational system in their seminal book Snakes in the Ganga. The book shows how woke social science theories developed in elite western educational institutions like Harvard are imported by their agents in Bharat, and gradually introduced into our education system, sowing the seeds for the indoctrination of Bharatiya kids and youth. There is an entire lobby of woke experts and agenda setters who push wokeism in the Bharatiya context, argues the book.

Vamsee Juluri, a Professor of Media Studies at the University of San Fransisco recently started an X thread on schools, civic textbooks, and children’s books to analyze the approaches used for teaching children about social injustice, inequality, and political activism. He started this thread by analyzing NCERT class 7th textbooks.

The entire thread is available on Vamsee Juluri’s X timeline. He posts relevant screenshots from NCERT school textbooks of Bharat to illustrate his point. Through his threads, Juluri analyzes how subtle biases are inculcated in the minds of students regarding many issues by choosing specific examples and using these examples to drive home certain points. For example, in one of the examples shared, the textbook gives students an example of a domestic help to illustrate the concept of inequality. That, she needs to borrow money from her employers to take her child to the doctor. “Her job as a domestic help tries her out, and finally she ends her day by again standing in a long line. This line, in front of the government hospital, is unlike the one in the morning because most of the people standing in it are poor”, as mentioned in the NCERT book page screenshot.

The morning line refers to the line where Kanta cast her vote along with her employers Ashok Jain and Chotte Lal. The idea the text is trying to portray is that the system is such that poor people always face deep-seated systemic inequality, no matter what the system professes. Despite Kanta’s right to franchise, she is defined by her identity as a domestic help when she has to stand in a long line in front of the government hospital, the text argues.

However, this is itself ridden with presumptions about poor people in Bharat and doesn’t take into account the changing socio-economic dynamics of Bharat. With the introduction of Ayushman Bharat, and the government’s ambitious health insurance scheme for the poor, things have changed a lot. Furthermore, as Juluri aptly points out, many slum patients seem happy with PM Modi’s health schemes and even posh hospitals can have long queues.

In another post from the same thread, Vamsee Juluri analyzes a textbook lesson in social activism through comic strip storytelling. The strip talks about a rally blocking the road and surrounding the MLA’s residence. The comic strip justifies the road blockage rather subtly suggesting that it’s for the public good since the protestors “demand that the authorities take immediate action to bring the public health situation under control! Our MLAs must take the responsibility for this!”

As Vamsee aptly argues in his response to this lesson on social activism, people might mock protests as “andolan jeevi” but the school textbook curriculum in Bharat is increasingly normalizing protests. There is nothing wrong in teaching about social activism per se. But if school students are offered an overtly romanticized and exaggeratedly positive portrayal of protests without explaining to them the repercussions of going overboard, and teaching them about the importance of eschewing violence and having faith in democratic institutions and processes, we might just end up with an over-the-top pro-protest generation who doesn’t mind putting democracy to siege for anything and everything.

Vamsee Juluri shares numerous screenshots of NCERT textbooks in his thread; one such screenshot is from a class 8th Social Science NCERT textbook where in the cover itself, the Bharatiya parliament is pushed in the background while the protestors take centerstage. Many of these screenshots depict that Bharatiya school students are being increasingly taught stuff about protests and social activism as a part of the social sciences curriculum. This is a far cry from the days when the maximum class 7th, and 8th students would be taught as a part of their civics curriculum would be bare facts about the Bharatiya constitution, fundamental rights, directive policies, etc. Wokeism is poisoning the brains of Bharatiya kids by introducing highly problematic value-laden components in the educational curriculum.

It’s laying the groundwork for anti-national youth who wouldn’t have any faith left in democratic institutions and can be easily manipulated by the woke/leftist forces. It’s akin to creating an assembly line of zombie-like woke leftists, the kinds we are seeing in the pro-Palestine protests on US university campuses. The scenario is rather scary, scarier than we are perhaps even willing to admit.

While Bharatiya school textbooks are busy importing wokeism, school textbooks in the US are becoming notorious for their derogatory portrayal of Hindu Dharma and culture. School textbooks in the US portray Hindu Dharma as an exploitative religion dominated by Brahmanical patriarchy and invented by the Aryans. Students are given an overwhelming dose of anti-Hindu propaganda; there is an obsessive focus on the caste system while everything positive about Hindu Dharma is conveniently omitted.

As opposed to this, Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam are portrayed as paragons of equality, while Hindu Dharma is portrayed as a religion that structurally propagates inequality.

Noted author Aditya Satsangi uncovers the deep-seated anti-Hindu bias of the US education system rather aptly in an article titled “Exposing the anti Hindu bias in American school textbooks”. He talks about a popular American textbook called “Traditions & Encounters – A global perspective on the past” written by Jerry H Bentley and Herbert F Ziegler.

“This book is taught to standard ten students and maybe other college students in the USA. Looks like the authors came from a Jesuit seminary to put Hinduism down. This is what most Americans read in schools and they form their opinions about Hinduism and Buddhism. The imaginary hateful concepts against Hinduism that were preached by Max Muller form the basis of this textbook in all public schools of the United States. If the six million strong Hindu American community sues the Department of Education of United States for institutionalizing hate against Hindus through fraudulent narrations that reek of British colonial rulers against the Hindus of India and other parts of the world, the United States human rights record will be further questioned”, says Satsangi in the article.

The Human Rights Report USA released by the Centre for Democracy, Pluralism and Human Rights in 2022 shows how the US uses its middle school curriculum to coerce students into accepting the Bible as the historical truth, while blatantly stereotyping non-Abrahamic religions like Hindu Dharma and literally forcing Hindus to give up their religious beliefs.

The report highlights how all Biblical events are taught as factual historical events in US schools, whereas Hindu Dharma is dismissed as a sham religion manufactured by a racist bunch of people known as Aryans. In the graded assignments given at the school, Hindu students have to literally go against their religious beliefs by writing in the answers that their religion is a human creation and sacred Hindu texts such as Vedas that are divine revelations by sages, were simply manufactured by human beings to wield power and influence, further says the report.

It’s shocking such blatant anti-Hindu hate could be so casually put down the US school curriculum, while the US has the audacity to lecture Bharat on religious freedom and the rights of minorities. Hindus form less than 1 percent of the population in the US and this is the harassment they have to go through. Both Hindu organizations in the US and Hindus in the US have tried to raise their voice against the inherent Hinduphobia in the US educational system multiple times. Petitions have been filed, and legal remedies have been sought, yet US school textbooks continue to demonize Hindu Dharma while glorifying Christianity.

The import of wokeism in Bharatiya school textbooks on the lines of American wokeism is no small issue. It needs to be addressed with the seriousness it deserves. Professor Vamsee Juluri has taken a great initiative by highlighting these biases through social media. Perhaps more intellectuals from within Bharat need to take up this issue.

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Rati Agnihotri
Rati Agnihotri
Rati Agnihotri is an independent journalist and writer currently based in Dehradun (Uttarakhand). Rati has extensive experience in broadcast journalism having worked as a Correspondent for Xinhua Media for 8 years. She was based at their New Delhi bureau. She has also worked across radio and digital media and was a Fellow with Radio Deutsche Welle in Bonn. She is now based in Dehradun and pursuing independent work regularly contributing news analysis videos to a nationalist news portal (India Speaks Daily) with a considerable youtube presence. Rati regularly contributes articles and opinion pieces to various esteemed newspapers, journals, and magazines. Her articles have been recently published in "The Sunday Guardian", "Organizer", "Opindia", and "Garhwal Post". She has completed a MA (International Journalism) from the University of Leeds, U.K., and a BA (Hons) in English Literature from Miranda House, Delhi University.

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