Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa Friday requested the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to remove objectionable references to the Nadar community in the Class IX social studies textbook of the NCERT.
In a letter to Singh, the text of which was released to the media here, Jayalalithaa listed errors in the book, published by the National Council of Education Research and Training.
The text of the letter reads: “May I, therefore, request you to intervene in the matter and advise the concerned ministry to take immediate action to remove the topic “Caste Conflict and Dress Change” from Chapter VIII of the IX Std. Social Studies CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) textbook published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training, New Delhi?”
According to her, the textbook contains derogatory statements about the Nadars in Chapter VIII ‘Clothing: A Social History’ under the sub-heading ‘Transformation in Colonial India’.
Jayalalithaa said contrary to the information given in the text, the Nadars are the original inhabitants of Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu.
The textbook mentions that the Nadars were migrants who worked as toddy tappers under Nair landlords. In a narrative compressed into five paragraphs, the textbook also holds that the Nadar women, like the Shanar caste women, only gained the right to cover their torsos after a prolonged struggle. These are references that the Tamil Nadu chief minister has taken umbrage to.
“The Kumari district is what remains of the sunken Kumari continent which is the cradle of Tamil civilisation. This is corroborated by the Tholkappiam and Silappathikaram (Tamil) literatures. Two famous Tamil poets, namely, Tholkappiar and Athanakottu Asan were born in this district. Moreover, the said text has neglected the struggles of Aiyya Vaikundar in the “Upper Cloth Revolt” and also his social reforms,” she said.
She said the Nadars are said to be descendants of those who ruled the Cheran, Cholan and Pandyan kingdoms.
According to her the traditions followed by the Nelamaikkarars (Nadars) and the existence of the ruins beneath the Teri palmrya forests of Tiruchendur and the Pandyan capital city of Korkai, where the Nadar population is predominant, suggest they could very well be the heirs of the early Pandyas.
Citing two inscriptions at Kallidaikurichi in the state that suggest the Nadars served as administrators and accountants for both the Chera and Pandya kings Jayalalithaa asserted that the Nadar community is not a “lower caste,” as mentioned in the NCERT book.
Referring to strides made by Nadars in the fields of business, education and leaders like K. Kamaraj belonging to the hardworking community Jayalalithaa said: “The incorrect details given in the textbook are very misleading and may leave a wrong impression in the minds of the students about the said community.”