A Convention on Textbooks addressed by Irfan Habib, D.N.Jha Prof. Prabhat Patnaik,
Prof. Suraj Bhan, Bipan Chandra in Constitution Club New Delhi

  Convention StatementThis convention under the auspices of SAHMAT held on 11 June 2004 at New Delhi declares its solidarity with all groups and individuals who have stood up in resistance to the semi-fascist anti-secular measures of the BJP regime. It notes with great satisfaction that contrary to all media predictions the people of India have decisively given an overwhelming majority in Parliament to parties expressly committed to opposing the communal and nationally divisive agenda of the BJP. The one clear national mandate to the new government is, therefore, that the entire project of the BJP Government to spread communal poison through the educational system be immediately and uncompromisingly  demolished.The most serious attempt to corrupt school education began with the NCERT's National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NSFSE,2000), opening the doors to communalism by the device of exalting the so-called "religious values". This was followed by getting heavily communalised textbooks written by Parivar-sponsored authors. These not only contain gross inventions but also indulge in open derision of beliefs of other religions in the name of presenting "religious values". These textbooks were printed in lakhs of copies as prescribed texts for History and Social Science classes of the CBSE system throughout the country. These steps violated precedent and convention since the Central Advisory Board of Education ( CABE) with representation of States


on it, was not convened; and, failing this, a majority of States in a conference of State Chief Ministers and Education Ministers at  Delhi, rejected the new curriculum framework in its entirety. Academic opinion too has been unanimous in protesting against both the new Curriculum Framework and the new text books.This Convention strongly feels that not a day should be lost in withdrawing the Curriculum Framework of 2000 and recalling the text books, especially those of History and Social Sciences prepared under it. The older National Curriculum Framework of 1988 should be restored  and the earlier textbooks, with necessary updating, should be reissued. These changes ought to be given effect to from the current academic session.The Indian people have surely not changed their government to merely continue the status quo, which  is the general tenor of advice to the government bya section of the media. A firm stance to protect the secular foundations of the nation by decisive action in the realm of school education is called for; and the Government should not allow procedural or bureaucratic delays to hamper action according to the priorities it needs to set.This Convention hopes that these words will be paid heed to by the new Government, and speedy and decisive action taken to keep the school child safe from the communal contagion.