Kannada literati such as SG Siddaramaiah and Hampa Nagarajaiah also resigned from government literary bodies in protest against the composition of the textbook review committee.
Following prominent Kannada writer Devanur Mahadeva’s May 24 request that his writings be removed from the Kannada language textbook which is part of the Class 10 Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) curriculum, several other prominent Kannada writers and scholars have also insisted that their work be removed from the school curriculum.
Kannada writers G. Ramakrishna, Bolwar Mahamad Kunhi, KS Madhusudhan, Chandrashekar Talya, Roopa Hassan and Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy have written open letters addressed to Minister of Primary and Secondary Education BC Nagesh asking that the stories and poems they have written and which are part of the textbooks for pupils between grades 5 and 10 must be removed. In his letter, Ramakrishna wrote: “It is unforgivable to make children’s education the target of partisan politics and to poison young minds. In this context, I think it is appropriate that none of my texts are included in the school curriculum.
In her short note rescinding her permission for her short story to be used in a textbook for class 5 students, Kunhi wrote, “I request that my short story titled ‘Don’t Tell Lies’ be removed. [from the school textbook] and another story that is in line with the vision of the textbook review committee be included.
The formation of the textbook review committee and the controversial changes it proposed, including the introduction of an essay by RSS founder KB Hedgewar, were fiercely opposed by an eclectic group of scholars, writers , poets, education experts and activists. With the changes suggested by the committee to take effect from the academic year beginning in June, protests against the changes, which have been described as “propaganda-driven” and a “saffronization effort” by critics, have intensified over the past week.
Mahadeva’s new form of protest was prompted by the BJP-led state government’s stubborn stance on textbook revision in Karnataka by appointing a textbook revision committee headed by staunch Hindutva supporter Rohit Chakrathirtha in September 2021 despite widespread unease and resistance to this decision. While Mahadeva’s text has been retained, the works of several progressive Kannada writers such as P. Lankesh, G. Ramakrishna, Sara Aboobacker, AN Murthy Rao, Shivakotiacharya have been deleted.
Along with these protests, top Kannada literati such as SG Siddaramaiah and Hampa Nagarajaiaah also resigned from government literary bodies in protest against Chakrathirtha. Siddaramaiah resigned as Chairman of the Rashtrakavi GS Shivarudrappa Foundation along with HS Raghavendra Rao and Nataraja Budal who are members of the Foundation. Nagarajaiah resigned as Chairman of Rashtrakavi Kuvempu Pratishtana (Foundation) citing the insult caused to the State Anthem and Jnanpith Awardee Kuvempu by Chakrathirtha in the past.