The Stream

Why is India cutting back on teaching evolution in schools?

On Wednesday, June 14 at 19:30 GMT:
This school year, students under 16 will no longer be taught about evolution or the periodic table of elements. The changes to textbooks – which include historical revisions that suit a Hindu nationalist agenda – have shocked educators in the country, who fear the curriculum changes are a sign of a greater acceptance of pseudoscience and right-wing politics.

Topics related to climate change and environmental sustainability have also been removed from the curriculum. The revisions were approved by the state-run National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and were implemented in textbooks for the current school year which started in May. According to NCERT, revisions were made to reduce educational workload for students burdened by the coronavirus pandemic.

Critics have accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using school textbook revisions to rewrite history and supplement their goal of turning a constitutionally secular India into an ethnic Hindu state. In addition to the removal of some scientific concepts, school-age students can no longer read about Mahatma Gandhi’s opposition to Hindu nationalism, history about Muslim leaders from the country’s Mughal Empire, and the secular roots of post-colonial India.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at how the politicisation of textbooks is changing education in India.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Srishti Jaswal, @seekingsrishti

Baswanth Oruganti, @BaswanthQuantum
Chemistry professor, SRM University

Sudhanshu Kaushik, @sudhikaushik 
Founder, Young India Foundation