A new controversy has emerged in Kerala over the re-teaching of deleted portions from the NCERT syllabus, including Mughal history, Gujarat riots, and Darwin's theory. Last week, Schools Education Minister V Sivankutty announced that these chapters would be taught in Kerala through supplementary textbooks. These would form part of the curriculum in the state and become mandatory reading for students.
However, this decision has sparked objections from both Christian and Muslim communities in the state. The government is now reconsidering the implementation of these supplementary textbooks, fearing a backlash. Furthermore, most schools in Kerala are under Christian and Muslim management, and these communities are finding a common cause against the communist government's decision.
While some have no objection to teaching Mughal history and Gujarat riots, many have serious concerns about Darwin's theory. This theory is believed to contradict the origin of species described in the holy texts of the Bible and the Quran, causing conflict with religious beliefs. Many people feel that the origin of life on Earth is the role of a divine power, rather than a scientific theory.
This issue has brought together Christians and Muslims with the BJP-RSS political parties, leading to a further polarization of sensitive issues. The Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference (KCBC) has also raised strong objections against the supplementary textbook containing Darwin's theory. However, it is essential to acknowledge that the objection to Darwin's theory is not a new thing and has been prevalent among many religious groups worldwide.
In 1957, when the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) formed the first communist government in Kerala, both the Christian and Muslim communities accused the party of promoting atheism in the school curriculum. This controversy led to the 'Liberation Struggle' movement in 1959, wherein these communities demanded a change in the communist government's educational policies. As a result of the widespread opposition, the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, dismissed the Kerala government.
Since then, many school managements in Kerala have publicly announced that they will not teach Darwin's theory in their schools. This practice has become a longstanding tradition in the state, with school management forbidding teachers from teaching the theory.
Consequently, teachers do not teach it, and students are left to figure it out on their own. This highlights the complex and sensitive nature of reconciling science and religion in education and respecting diverse beliefs and values.
In the ongoing controversy surrounding the re-teaching of deleted parts of the NCERT syllabus in Kerala, the Communist parties have chosen to remain silent on the issue, fearing the loss of votes. Additionally, CM Pinarayi Vijayan has remained silent in the face of increasing opposition to the move.
However, in the past, the government had removed material about the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and banned RSS in NCERT textbooks, emphasizing their commitment to constitutional and secular values. But in regards to the supplementary textbooks covering Gujarat riots, Mughal history, and Darwin's theory, there has been no official comment from the government.
Kerala believes that these subjects should be studied, given their historical significance, and that the decision to teach them should not be based on political or religious considerations. The current controversy highlights the challenges of combining science and religion in education and the need to approach such topics with greater sensitivity, inclusion, and a willingness to listen to diverse views and opinions.
'Evolutionary Theory' or 'Theory of Evolution' is a scientific theory proposed by Charles Darwin. It explains how biological species evolve over time through the process of natural selection. The theory describes how species adapt to their environments to survive and thrive, giving rise to the diversity of life we see today. Darwin's theory challenges the notion of creationism or the belief that all living things were created by a divine force. Instead, Darwin's theory offers a naturalistic explanation of how life came to be, without the need for a supernatural higher power.
Charles Darwin's book 'On the Origin of Species', published in 1859, marked a paradigm shift in the human understanding of the realm of evolution of life on earth. This book challenged the traditional religious beliefs which had dominated the scientific community for centuries and paved the way for a scientific understanding of life and its origins.
It remains one of the most influential works in the field of biology and has opened up vast avenues of research and knowledge in understanding the diversity of life on earth.
The Union Minister, Satyapal Singh, in 2018 made an assertion that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is scientifically incorrect and needs to be eliminated from school and college curricula across the nation. He made this statement whilst speaking to reporters in Aurangabad, where he claimed that humans have always existed as we know them on Earth and that our ancestors have never witnessed an ape transforming into a human.
Union Minister Satpal Singh's statement, five years ago, prompted scientists in Kerala to organise lectures to disseminate the scientificness of the theory. The Breakthrough Science Society (BSS) in partnership with the Kerala State Science and Technology Museum (KSSTM) held a succession of public lectures explicitly aimed at disseminating the acclaimed scientific theory of organic evolution. This theory posits that all life on Earth originated from primitive single-celled organisms, evolving over a vast course of millions of years. The initiative aimed to reach out and educate the general public on contemporary scientific ideals, promoting a more informed and enlightened society.
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