Darwin’s Evolution Theories and Society’s Thought

Darwin’s Evolution Theories

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) recently made some changes in middle and high school textbooks that has left academics across the country upset – it omitted a few chapters that educators say were extremely important for the development of scientific views among students.

Among the most noticeable omissions are the chapters that are, “Evolution and Periodic Table” from the science textbooks of classes 9th and 10th. The NCERT justifies these changes as a part of the curriculum “rationalization,” an exercise necessitated by the COVID pandemic.

Opposing Darwin’s theory of evolution has been deeply rooted in religious beliefs since his publication of “On the Origin of Species” in 1859. Numerous religious societies and groups have well-guarded and preserved the creationists’ narratives of human origins.

Even today, countries like Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria, and Oman don’t teach evolution in their schools or universities. And in Egypt and Tunisia, evolution is taught and presented as an “unproven hypothesis.”

After Karl Marx gifted Darwin his book Capital Vol 1, the scientist wrote back, “Though our studies have been different, I believe that we both earnestly desire the extension of knowledge and that this, in the long run, is sure to add to the happiness of mankind.”

While the NCERT claims that the removal of these chapters is a part of the post-COVID rationalization, this approach appears irrational for two reasons. Firstly, it will limit the teaching and learning opportunities of this part to the students who choose the science stream in class 11.

Dropout rates in secondary schools in India, influenced by gender, caste, and economic factors are alarming. NSSO (National Sample Survey Office) data shows that 74 percent of individuals aged 18 and above dropped out before reaching class 12. As a result, many young students may miss the opportunity to study evolution due to the NCERT’s rationalization exercise.

And secondly, teaching evolution to primary and secondary school children goes beyond imparting scientific knowledge. It is an essential component of holistic scientific development that should be nurtured in schools. Introducing children to the basics of evolution broadens their horizons and enables them to understand life processes beyond societal and religious clichés. It promotes idea generation, enhances rational thinking, and empowers children to question the status quo.

Darwin’s theory has been challenged by many societies and people till today. As we talk about the past, back in 2018, Satyapal Singh, the then Union Minister of Human Resource and Development, called Darwin’s theory of evolution “scientifically wrong” and also asked to remove it from the syllabus in schools and colleges. Then the next year, the Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University, Nageshwar Rao Gollapalli, claimed that the “theory of Dashavtara” explains evolution better than Darwin’s theory at the 106th Indian Science Congress.

In today’s world of consumerism, a nation is judged by their action and policies. Despite India’s aspirations to present itself as a progressive nation, the removal action from the school textbook presents a negative image in the eye of the world. The deletion of Darwin’s chapter from NCERT textbooks represents a regressive step in the education system.

Why Darwin’s theory is important

Scientists and educators across the country are not happy with the NCERT move, as they believe Darwin’s theory of evolution one of the most firmly established theories in science. Darwin’s theory not only defines the origination of homo-sapiens (and all other creatures in the world) but also breaks the chain of belief that an “intelligent designer (God)” created them and put them in their place. They pointed to the rationalization as “dangerous” for those students who are deprived of this information, especially those who do not take up biology as a subject after class 10.

Darwin’s theory of evolution is based on the primary research he did during his lifetime which is the fossils he collected and the wildlife he observed on his five-year trip (1832-36) on the HMS Beagle- a fact that is routinely taught.

The other important aspect that biology classrooms ignore is the impact that the social beliefs of his times had on how Darwin looked at the natural world.


By incorporating the teaching of Darwin’s theory into our educational curriculum, we open up avenues for such introspection without undermining its substantial contributions. Consequently, while Darwin’s theory should continue to find a place in our textbooks, it is crucial that we rethink how we approach its instruction. It is through this evolution of teaching methods that we can fully harness the potential of Darwin’s theory and equip future generations with the necessary tools to navigate the complexities of science and its ever-evolving nature.


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