Chapter on Tipu Sultan dropped from Class VII textbook in Karnataka

Published : July 29, 2020 15:28 IST

At a celebration of Tipu Sultan Jayanthi at the Beedi Labourers’ Colony in Mandya, Karnataka, on November 10, 2019. Photo: The Hindu Archives

In a decision that has sparked off a controversy in Karnataka, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has dropped a chapter on the 18th century Mysore ruler, Tipu Sultan. This issue came to the notice of the public when the revised syllabus for the State Board schools was uploaded on the Education Department’s website on July 27.

In a statement to the media, Made Gowda, Director, Karnataka Textbook Society, said: “Too much should not be read into the rationalising of the syllabus.” The number of working days had come down from 220 to 120 days because of the coronavirus pandemic, he said, and the syllabus has been reduced by 30 per cent. Gowda also added that parts of Tipu Sultan’s life continued to be taught in Class VI and Class X history books. Schools in the State are tentatively slated to reopen in September if the pandemic situation improves.

The father-son duo of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan ruled Mysore between 1761 and 1799, fighting a series of battles with the British, called the Anglo-Mysore Wars. Tipu’s death on May 4, 1799, during the fourth and final Anglo-Mysore War is often considered by historians to have provided the opportunity for the East India Company to embark on its conquest of peninsular India. Thus, Tipu Sultan is often considered the first freedom fighter of India.

His legacy has been contested by Hindu right-wing organisations, which claim that he was a “bigoted” ruler who persecuted Hindus in his kingdom. Articles published in Frontline (https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/contested-legacy/article7911857.ece; https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/tipufact-amp-fiction/article9432521.ece; https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/tipu-in-malabar/article9998640.ece) have examined this claim in detail.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had opposed the celebration of Tipu Jayanti, a practice begun by Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in 2015. One of the first decisions that B.S. Yediyurappa took on being sworn in as Chief Minister in July, 2019, was to stop celebrating Tipu Jayanti. There were also demands by a few BJP legislators in the State last year to erase all references to Tipu Sultan in history textbooks. Earlier this year, S. Suresh Kumar, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, had stated that lessons on Tipu would be retained.

D.K. Shivakumar, president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), said: “Tipu Sultan does not belong to one caste or a class. He is part of the history of this country. BJP government has removed chapters related to him for its political advantage. It is their decision whether they celebrate Tipu Sultan Jayanti or not but he is part of our history.”

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