This paper explores how Hindi language textbooks address the issue of diversity and inclusion. These textbooks are prescribed by the Government of Madhya Pradesh and used in the state board elementary schools. In Madhya Pradesh people speak different languages such as Malwi, Nimadi, Bundelkhandi, Gondi, Korku, Bareli, etc. Nevertheless, Hindi is the only language of communication used in state board elementary schools as well as for all administrative purposes.
Many studies have highlighted the central role played by textbooks in school education in India. Textbooks are the only material used in classrooms. Hindi language textbooks are a compilation of different literary genres and writers. Through the process of selection of material in textbooks, there are worldviews and attitudes regarding caste, gender, religion, nation, etc which are highlighted. In this manner, textbooks become a cultural repository of select writings and worldviews.
Based on the analysis of elementary school language textbooks, this chapter shows, that the selection of content in Hindi textbooks is informed by a desire to strengthen children’s allegiance to a given understanding of citizenship and the nation which is centred around Brahminical Hindu ethos. Hence the textbooks passages portray romanticised notions of the past. It perpetuates the hierarchical social structures and makes the marginalised communities invisible. It fails to recognise the everyday discriminatory practices based on caste and gender biases, which find legitimacy within Brahminical Hinduism.
Dalits (15%) and Adivasis (21%) together form 36% of Madhya Pradesh’s population. Their cultures and practices are made invisible in the textbook. It is only in recent decades that Dalit and Adivasi children have had access to schooling. Through the Hindi textbooks, these first-generation learners are encultured into a worldview which marginalises them. Textbooks are identified as the site of cultural capital. In the pursuit of social mobility through schooling, children have to contest with the cultural capital.