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(From India Today)
Byline: Rajeev Deshapande
At the best of times, history and its teaching are contentious subjects. And, if Union Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, the unabashed votary of Hindutva, is in the picture, no prescience is required to anticipate a row.
Last week, Joshi had reasons to exult as the Supreme Court gave the green signal to new textbooks that the minister has been keen to introduce in schools. This means texts will now include lessons on religions and religious values. The court has clearly ruled that the National Curriculum Framework for Secondary Education (NCFSE) is not in violation of the Constitution and did not amount to introducing religious "instruction" as is the case in seminaries.
The controversy began to brew after J.S. Rajput, considered a Joshi favourite, was appointed director of the National Centre for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in July 1999. Just four lines in the 128-page NCFSE document, published in November 2000, were sufficient for hostilities to reignite between Joshi and leftist academics. The Opposition was also swift to allege "saffronisation". The document stated: "Another significant factor that merits urgent attention now is religion. Although it is not the only source of essential values, it certainly …