Controversy over Class 7 textbook continues in Kerala

July 19th, 2008 - 3:51 pm ICT by IANS  


Thiruvananthapuram, July 19 (IANS) The Catholic Church in Kerala and the two Left parties that are in the ruling coalition criticised each other Saturday over a controversial Class 7 social science textbook published by the state government. Addressing the laity of the Kerala Catholic Bishop Conference at Kochi, Archbishop Mar Joseph Powathil said the present Left government in Kerala was a continuation of the 1957 Communist government. That had been the first democratically elected Communist government in the world, when E.M.S. Nampoothiripad became the chief minister.

“The present Left government is trying to implement the unfinished agenda of the 1957 government. This time, first they tried to hound the private managements which run the professional colleges. Then they tried to see if they could take away the right of appointing teachers and for admission in the private management run educational institutions. The latest is the current text book controversy,” said the archbishop, who is the chairman of the Inter Church Council here and belongs to the Roman Catholic Church.

“This indiscriminate hounding by the government will not be taken lightly,” he said.

The latest spat is on the controversial Class 7 social science textbook of the Kerala government, which the Church, the Muslims and the Congress-led opposition have termed as vague, anti-religion, injecting communist ideology into young minds and distorting the rich history of the country.

In response, Communist Party of India state secretary Veliyam Bharghavan said they (the Catholic Church and the clergy) are behind the present controversy over the textbook.

“There is nothing anti-religion in the textbook. It is in the best interest of all that they stop this protest. This is the best time to stop the protest, if not they will face the music,” said Bharghavan.

State Education Minister M.A. Baby, who is from the Communist Party of India - Marxist, said that the textbook tries to inculcate the values of humanism, secularism and democracy and did not propagate Communist ideology as alleged by those who are opposing it.

“The book will not be withdrawn but certain amendments would be made,” said Baby.

The state Saturday witnessed ugly protests with the activists of the opposition parties and the ruling front clashing at several places.

The Kerala Students’ Union, an organisation affiliated to the Congress, released their version of how a Class 7 social science textbook should be. It has details of the freedom movement and national leaders.

Releasing the book, former Congress chief minister K. Karunakaran exhorted students and the youth activists of his party to refrain from violence in their protests against the government’s textbook.

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