The Catholic Church in Kerala has taken serious objections to the new Social Science textbook for the 10th standard, prepared during the previous Left Democratic Front's rule, alleging that it contained "grossly baseless anti-church contents" and "propagated Marxist political ideology".
The newly installed United Democratic Front government recently set up a three-member committee headed by former chief secretary Dr D Babu Paul to examine the controversial textbook following the church's complaint.
According to Father Philip Nelpuraparambil, secretary of the Education Commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council, the textbook makes a "deliberate attempt" to propagate anti-religion ideology by looking at history through a "purely Marxian perspective".
"The textbook is not merely an attempt to mislead and instil an anti-religious outlook in young minds but also contains several totally untrue and adverse observations against the Catholic church," said Father Nelpuraparambil.
The textbook, prepared by a research council set up when the state was under the LDF rule, did not contain the authentic history of the world but the Marxst version by running down religion in general and Catholicism in particular, he alleged.
For instance, the chapter on Renaissance titled 'the rise of the modern world' was entirely meant to defame the church and establish that Catholic ideals were outdated, Father Nelpuraparambil claimed.
The book described Renaissance as an "intellectual reaction against irrational ideals imposed on people by the Catholic Church," he said.
According to the Church, ever since the Left came to power in Kerala for the first time in 1957, it has made attempts to deride the church and the religious orientation of all other sections by infusing Marxist ideological content in textbooks.
"On the whole, the textbook appears to be an effort to blame the church and religion for all the evils in the society and dark phases of history. This could only be seen as a covert attempt to propagate Marxian political ideology and its historical perspective based on class struggle at the state expense," Father Nelpuraparambil alleged.
"While trying to glorify Marxism, it entirely blacked out the cruelties perpetrated by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. It also says that the United States is a country where islets of affluence and poverty exist side by side," he said.
"A textbook should ultimately aim to lead the students to goodness and mould them as model citizens. Now, the attempt is to infuse anti-religious feelings in the books," he claimed.
The content of the textbook also ran against the spirit of Indian Constitution and secular tradition which allowed its citizens to believe in a religion of his or her choice, Father Nelpuraparambil said.