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Legend of Tipu Sultan and Fight Over Keeping him in Textbooks, Learn in #ClassesWithNews18

By: Damini Solanki


Last Updated: August 29, 2022, 09:00 IST

New Delhi, India

Chapters on Tipu Sultan in Karnataka school syllabus have remained controversial for a long time. (Photo- CNN News18)

Chapters on Tipu Sultan in Karnataka school syllabus have remained controversial for a long time. (Photo- CNN News18)

Considered a secular ruler who died fighting the British by some and an anti-Kannada ruler who promoted Persian and forced religious conversions by others, know why Tipu Sultan is a controversial figure.

Classes with News18
For the last two years, the world has been restricted to homes. Daily activities that couldn’t be managed without stepping out, came indoors all at once — from office to grocery shopping and schools. As the world accepts the new normal, News18 launches weekly classes for school children, explaining key chapters with examples from happenings around the world. While we try to simplify your subjects, a request to break down a topic can be tweeted @news18dotcom.

This week let’s learn about Tipu Sultan. Over the last decade, there has been a political movement to remove the former ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore from the textbooks in Karnataka. Chief Minister of Karnataka Basavaraj Bommai recently said that there are ideological differences surrounding Tipu Sultan as there were historical facts and arguments both in the favour of and against him.

Karnataka is witnessing a backlash against a review committee set up by the state government that recommended doing away with the glorification of the ‘Rocket Man’ and ‘Freedom Fighter’, Tipu Sultan. But why?

To know more about Tipu Sultan, let us visit the history of the ruler and the fight over keeping him in or out of textbooks.


The eldest son of Sultan Hyder Ali, Tipu (1750-1799) was the king of the then Mysore region in southern India. Tipu was a ruler of the erstwhile Kingdom of Mysore and considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company. He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort at Srirangapatna against the British forces.

Tipu Sultan, however, is a controversial figure in Kodagu district as Kodavas (Coorgis), a martial race, believe that thousands of their men and women were seized and held captive during his occupation and subjected to torture, death and forcible conversion to Islam.

While BJP and some Hindu organisations see Tipu as a “religious bigot" and a “brutal killer", few Kannada outfits call him “anti-Kannada", citing that he had promoted Persian at the cost of the local language.

Read | Retrace The Rise and Fall of The Mughal Empire With #ClassesWithNews18

He is also accused of execution of Mandayam Iyengars at the temple town of Melkote in Mandya district on the day of Deepavali, as they supported the then Maharaja of Mysuru.

The scale of such suppression is disputed by several historians, who see Tipu as a secular and modern ruler who took on the might of the British.

Considering the controversial history of the ruler, the question of keeping him in the history textbooks or not has created controversy even today. Let us understand the Karnataka textbook controversy with the timeline of events that unfolded in the past:


1. OCTOBER 23, 2019- Karnataka BJP MLA Wanted All Mentions of Tipu Sultan Replaced With ‘Desh Bhakti’ in School Books

Soon after Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s government banned the Tipu Sultan Jayanti celebrations in the state, putting an end to the five-year-old affair, BJP MLA Appachu Ranjan wrote to primary and secondary education minister Suresh Kumar asking that all references to the 18th-century ruler be wiped off history books. Ranjan, an MLA from Madikeri, said the government must take the initiative to strike out all references and chapters on Tipu from school books so that children in Karnataka are only taught about patriotism.

2. OCTOBER 29, 2019- Karnataka Education Minister Seeks Report on Proposal to Write Off Tipu Sultan from History Books

After BJP MLA Appachu Ranjan appealed to erase Tipu Sultan from history textbooks, Karnataka’s primary and secondary education minister Suresh Kumar has written to the Text Book Society to convene a meeting within three days and submit a report. In a letter addressed to the managing director of the textbook drafting committee, Kumar has asked the members to invite the MLA and discuss the matter in the next three days.

3. OCTOBER 30, 2019-  Government Planned to Remove the Lesson on Tipu Sultan From Middle School History Textbooks

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa indicated his government’s plans to remove the lesson on Tipu Sultan from middle school history textbooks and said he does not believe the controversial 18th-century ruler of erstwhile Mysore kingdom was a freedom fighter. The move was slammed by opposition Congress, which said removing the lesson was like “distorting history".

4. NOVEMBER 1, 2019- Tipu Sultan’s Descendants Rue Karnataka Government’s Plan 

Tipu Sultan’s descendants expressed their displeasure over the BJP-led Karnataka government’s plans to remove a lesson on the 18th-century Mysuru ruler from middle school history textbooks. Saying that the move was politically motivated, Shahid Alam, a descendant of Tipu Sultan, said that the news of the proposal had come as a rude shock to the family. Prince Mooniruddin and Prince Golam Muhammed were two of Tipu’s sons, who were deported to Kolkata by the British. Shahid Alam is a co-trustee of Prince Golam Mohammed’s wakf estate.

Another of Tipu Sultan’s descendants, Anwar Ali Shah said that he personally feels that parties and leaders are using Tipu’s name for their political interest and that removing his name from textbooks does not mean his contribution was nothing.

5. JANUARY 20, 2020- Lessons on Tipu Sultan to Remain Part of Textbooks in Karnataka 

The Karnataka government decided to retain lessons on Tipu Sultan as part of the school syllabus, at least for the next academic year. Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar said that there will not be any change in the textbooks for the coming year, but for future changes, they decided to constitute a committee to look deep into both the positive and negative sides of the ruler.

The government had earlier asked an expert panel of the Karnataka textbook committee to look into that matter and submit a report. The committee had suggested that the lesson on the Mysuru ruler be retained. With the deadline to issue printing orders for next year’s textbooks drawing close, the BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government decided to pay heed to the committee’s advice for the time being.

6. JULY 28, 2020- Chapter on Tipu Sultan and His Father Dropped from Class 7 Textbooks as Karnataka Government Reduced Syllabus

The chapters on controversial ruler Tipu Sultan and his father Haider Ali were among the ones dropped from the class 7 social science textbook, following the Karnataka government’s decision to reduce the 2020-21 syllabi due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the chapters on Tipu have been retained in class 6 and 10 books.

The revised syllabus uploaded on the Karnataka Text Book Society (KTBS) website showed that in class 7, social science text, chapter 5 that deals with Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan, Historical places of Mysore, and Administration of Commissioners was dropped.

The Department of Public Instructions decided to reduce the syllabus for the year 2020-21 in view of the pandemic and disruption in the academic calendar for the year, which was brought down to 120 working days. Responding to a question on dropping the chapter, officials said it should be noted that the students study Tipu in classes 6 and 10.

7. JULY 30, 2020- Chapter on Tipu Sultan from Class 7 Textbook Restored by Karnataka Government After Criticism

Faced with criticism from all quarters, Karnataka restored a lesson on controversial Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan in the history textbook for class 7 students, three days after dropping it ostensibly to reduce the syllabus.

Karnataka Textbook Society managing director Madde Gowda said that as per instructions given by Education Minister S Suresh Kumar, the chapter on Tipu for class 7 students in the e-version of the history textbook were uploaded to the Department of State Education Research and Training (DSERT) website for online classes and teaching, as schools were shut due to Covid-19 scare.

8. MARCH 28, 2022- Karnataka Government Plans to Delete Some Chapters on Tipu Sultan

The Karnataka government planned to revise school textbooks and delete some chapters, including the one on 18th-century Mysuru ruler Tipu Sultan which shows him allegedly in a ‘glorified’ manner. The committee intended to remove sentences like ‘Tiger of Mysuru’ or ‘Freedom fighter’ while referring to Tipu Sultan. The textbook revision committee in Karnataka basically decided to drop content it deems as ‘glorification’ of Tipu Sultan.

9. APRIL 20, 2022- Karnataka Govt to Remove Only ‘Inappropriate’ Parts About Tipu Sultan

Karnataka’s education minister BC Nagesh said chapters on Tipu Sultan will continue to remain in school textbooks and only “inappropriate” parts will be removed. The minister’s remarks come at a time when there is a raging debate in the southern state on the 18th Century ruler of Mysuru.

The Karnataka government had formed a committee to examine Tipu Sultan’s representation in the school curriculum and it is witnessing an opposition backlash.

To learn about other topics taught in school, explained by News18, here is a list of other Classes With News18: Queries Related to Chapters on Elections | Sex Versus Gender | Cryptocurrencies | Economy & Banks | How to Become President of India | Post Independence Struggle | How India Adopted Its Flag | Formation of States & United India

Read all the Latest Education News and Breaking News here

first published:August 29, 2022, 09:00 IST
last updated:August 29, 2022, 09:00 IST