Kolkata Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels — founders of Marxism — may be out of history syllabus in government schools in West Bengal following a recommendation by a state education panel.
Mamata Banerjees move, months after she ended the 34- year- old Left rule in the State, was condemned by Communist parties as an attempt to write history.
But the ruling Trinamool Congress defended the move, claiming the attempt is to ‘correct the imbalance’which was there in history textbooks in the state schools.
Trinamool MP Dereck O’Brien also made it clear that the government was not trying to doctor history.
‘Marx, I believe should be studied as a historical phenomenon but not at the expense of the Mahatma, and not at the expense of Mandela,’he said, adding ‘Bengal is redressing balance, not doctoring history.’History doesn’t begin with the Bolsheviks and end with Basus and Bhattacharyas.
History preceded them and will survive them,’he added.
The states school education syllabus committee, which has been asked to revamp the syllabus and lessen the burden of unnecessary topics on students, has recommended that Marx and Engels and the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 be expunged in the textbooks.
The committee head Avik Majumdar is reported to have said that History syllabus in Bengal gave importance to a particular ideology and that an attempt is being made to give it a balanced approach.
Majumdar further said if there was any excess of anything, including Marx, it has to be done away with. ‘We have decided to restructure the history syllabus for the students of Classes XI and XII. If one goes through present history textbooks, she or he would feel there are only three countries in the world — India, England and Soviet Russia. But we have decided to present an unbiased and pluralistic history to the students,’added Majumdar.
‘Thus in the recommendations, we have suggested to include movements of Latin America, history of Africa, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka,’he explained.
‘Text books are not a tool to brainwash students with a particular political ideology,’Majumdar, also a professor of comparative literature at Jadavpur University, averred.
But others begged to disagree.
‘I fail to understand why such a historic event and great masters of history will be excluded in the curriculum. This is not desirable and is unnecessary and unfortunate,’a veteran Marxist and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said.
CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta called the move atrocious. He added that the move was not only politically motivated but also motivated to malign history.
CPI ( M) MP Brinda Karat said the party has not discussed the move as yet but felt there is bound to be a reaction from parents.