Darwin in Indian textbooks — setting the record straight

Sometime back, I wrote a post about the absence of Darwin in Indian science textbooks based on an editorial in Current Science by Prof. Balaram (which is getting some attention elsewhere in the blogopolis too).

When I wrote the post, Deep, duly noted in a comment that Prof. Balaram should have taken a look at all the school textbooks and not just the X standard one.

Now, after seeing Abi’s wonderful  and must-follow link to the NCERT textbooks for all classes from I to XII standards, Deep did a follow-up for me, and informs me in a mail that

… the Xth standard NCERT biology book does mention (actually, covers a decent amount of) evolution and Darwin (with his photograph as well:-)

which indeed is good news at some level. So, even if Darwin is missing in some texts for some classes, it is good to know that there are some boards which do a good job. Now, it just becomes a question of standardisation across different boards.

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2 Responses to “Darwin in Indian textbooks — setting the record straight”

  1. MCArunan Says:

    The degree college syllabi of Biotechnology, Biochemistry and Microbiology give a miss to the birthday boy, Darwin in totality. Even when disciplines like Zoology, Botany or LifeSciences/ Integrated Biology give some mention in the syllabi, it is treated in the most cavalier manner that invariably students can pass and get distinction without studying these topics. Worse, still, is that students emerge with total misconceptions regarding evolution through natural selection. Those who strive to adapt to the challenging environment are selected for in a dog-eat-dog competitive world is all that the best student comes up with, as far as evolution by natural selection is concerned. The idea of pouplation, is lost out completely. Individualism of the worst type enunciated by unbriddled capitalistic notions is further reinforced by this (mis)reading of Darwin and evolution. That the richness and contemporariness of the debates among evolutionists never made its presence felt in the Indian academic landscape in any sustantive manner is a telling commentary.

    Some of us have been trying to document the number of events held in India on 12 February 2009 as well as, ever since 1 July 2008. We will be greatly obliged if we are intimated about any event that happened between, say, 1 July to 12 Feb 2010, the end of the 200th birthday celebration of Darwin. this will be a means to identify Evolution fans and build a functional network in years to come.
    MC Arunan, BrainResearch & Cognitive Sciences Laboratory, Department od LifeSciences, Sophia College for Women, Mumnai-400 026
    E-mail:mcarunan@gmail.com

    Tail Piece:
    When the remuneration of Rs 1000/- for conducting the two-day syplosium on 150 Years Since Darwin (held at the Sophia College for Women, Mumbai sometime in August 2008) was sought to be spent by us to buy a cake to celebrate the Darwin200 in the college, we were to settle for a two and half KG cake. However, while we were giving instruction as to what to write on the cake, the more than curious shop owner was visibly ecxited and had gifted a 4 KG cake free of cost, all for Darwin!

    The two and half KG cake out of Rs. 1000/-was gifted by us to the Geology Department of the neighbouring college where in the evening biology teachers and students gathered amidst a huge collection of fossils that dates back to pre-cambrian era! We called that event as Biologists Pilgrimage to Geology Department!

  2. Jeff Teare Says:

    I’ve been given a grant by the British Council to write a dramatic script provisionally entitled ‘Darwin in India’. I’ve talked to Mukund Thattai at NCBD about this (briefly) but would welcome other inputs. My company, Theatrescience (co-director Rebecca Gould) has been working in India for a couple of years now and a workshop we ran on ‘Indian attitudes to Evolution’ certainly came up with some, er, interesting opinions!

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