Textbooks today are written to create "activists" and not to educate, newly-appointed chief of Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) Braj Bihari Kumar said while terming universities such as Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) a "nurturing ground" for such activists.
Mr. Kumar, who took over as the head of the apex body that promotes research in social sciences last month, also believes that caste-based conflicts and intolerance are "fringe" phenomena and should not be seen as reflection of Indian society as a whole.
"Textbooks are not meant to turn student into activists. Unfortunately, the books are driven by an agenda today and there is a need for curriculum overhaul," said the 76-year-old former anthropologist, who once famously called Prime Minister Narendra Modi the "worst victim of intolerance".
"I found a map in a social science textbook that showed Jammu & Kashmir as separate from India. There was another one that didn’t show North-East areas as part of the country. There are several lapses in our textbooks," Mr. Kumar told PTI in an interview.
Mr. Kumar, who used to edit the journal Dialogue before he joined the ICSSR, had written in an editorial in 2016: "NCERT textbooks are driven by political agenda and are partly responsible for increasing social conflicts and anarchical trends".
"I had also written two letters to former HRD minister Smriti Irani pointing out the issue but I did not get any response," he said.
He also lashed out at "JNU-like universities", claiming: "several persons from a single family are massacred in Chhattisgarh and there is jubilation in JNU and a march in praise of the killers, much cannot be said about the kind of varsity that it is... they can’t claim excellence when they are hurting nationalist sentiments."
The ICSSR was established in 1969 by the Centre to promote research in social sciences. It gives grants to institutions and scholars.