Indian textbooks remove chapters on Jawaharlal Nehru, Nelson Mandela

An independent education panel in the Indian state of Rajasthan caused uproar by nearly erasing the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru from a draft school textbook.

The draft contained a few scant references to Nehru but no discussion of his role in securing India’s independence from Great Britain or leading the country through the turbulent years as a nascent democracy.

Earlier, the BJP-led secondary education board in the state also removed the work of Western poets like John Keats and T S Eliot and omitted a chapter on Nelson Mandela from its textbooks – terming it “meaningless”. The Mandela chapter was replaced with works on India’s tribal communities.

“It is strange and unfortunate that Rajasthan students have been reading chapters on Africa and poems by foreign authors while they are ignorant about our own tribals and poets. These textbooks giving undue importance to foreign authors and chapters are meaningless,” a senior committee member said.

Leaders said they wanted to bring the work of Indian authors closer to students.

The move comes as the country’s central government is set to announce a new national education policy which many fear could bring similar changes. Changing or rewriting Indian history has long been a source of controversy and political debate in the country.

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