History falsification in new earnest
By Udayan Namboodiri
People in ancient India ate beef. Mahmud of Ghazni was a great patron of poetry. The Mughal period was the ?Age of Magnificence?. The Jain tirthankaras who preceded Bhagwan Mahavira did not exist. Shivaji, Guru Gobind Singh, Guru Teg Bahadur were only ?rebellious? leaders who sought to destabilise the great Mughal empire and were (logically) executed. Banda Bahadur was something of a caste leader who organised ?lower caste Punjabis? and did not receive the support of the upper classes; so ?he was executed?. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was a nationalist while the Hindu Mahasabha was communalist. Joseph Stalin was a great leader (who was not responsible for the outbreak of World War II) and the ?paranoia? over communism in the free world was ?unjustified?. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose ?died? in an air crash. The Soviet Union only ?intervened? in Afghanistan and despite its (peaceful?) withdrawal, the civil war in Afghanistan is continuing.
With National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) bringing back the history books discontinued by the NDA government in 2002, the campaign to distort India'shistory has got a new lease of life. Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister, Arjun Singh, who owes his position to the Leftists, has taken charge of the operation to drill pinko history into the minds of innocent children. In his zeal to please his masters, the HRD Minister has destroyed the autonomy of NCERT and thrown every pedagogical principle out of the window. Leave alone their typographical errors, factual mistakes and brazenly communal distortions, the books by the so-called ?eminent historians??R.S. Sharma, Romila Thapar, Bipin Chandra, Arjun Dev and Satish Chandra?are unfit from the point of view of the National Policy of Education (NPE) which was formulated under Rajiv Gandhi and given shape by P.V. Narasimha Rao.
The NPE, in its Plan of Action (1992) had categorically stated that the National Curriculum Framework of School Education (NCFSE) must be revised every five years to keep students up to date with the needs of the age they would be required to live in. Accordingly, the NDA government had commissioned a new NCFSE which was implemented from the beginning of the academic year 2002-03 after the Supreme Court upheld it. It had integrated the teaching of history, geography, civics and economics and from that session onwards, these disciplines were taught out of a common book of social sciences between Classes VI and X. Only at the ?plus two? stage were exclusive books on history supposed to be introduced. In keeping with the new NCFSE, students had got new books which were proved to be academically sound. The Leftists who had criticised these books through their forum, the Indian History Congress (IHC), were silenced when NCERT, in August 2003, gave a point-by-point rebuttal in a book called Fallacies in the IHC Report (from Fallacies to Report). Students, teachers and parents all over India had welcomed the new pedagogy because not only were young children finally instilled with pride in their national past, but the academic burden was also substantially reduced. But now, under orders from A.K. Gopalan Bhavan, the national headquarters of the CPI(M), the NCERT has, in one stroke, revived the history books which conformed to an old NCFSE. If Singh had at least waited for a new NCFSE, however farcical and ill-conceived it could get under Leftist influence, he could at least have had a fig leaf. But, the Congress party is now reduced to such servility before the communists, that it has discarded the same NPE that its glorious leader, Rajiv Gandhi, had introduced.
Under orders from A.K. Gopalan Bhavan, the national headquarters of the CPI(M), the NCERT has, in one stroke, revived the history books which conformed to an old NCFSE. If Singh had at least waited for a new NCFSE, however farcical and ill-conceived it could get under Leftist influence, he could at least have had a fig leaf.
Henceforth, students of the secondary stage will be required to buy and memorise a separate book for history and continue with the social sciences text developed under NDA rule for knowledge of geography, civics and economics. That means, for just 30 marks, they will be required to memorise books of minimum 100 pages (as they go higher, the books thicken and end up at over 220 pages for the Class X text) plus geography, civics and economics.
The callousness of Singh'slackeys in NCERT can be gauged by the fact that the ?new? books don'teven conform to the syllabus. For instance, the Class VI book by Romila Thapar is wholly focused on ancient India whereas the syllabus (formulated after nation-wide consultation in January 2002 and upheld by the Supreme Court subsequently) says students must learn bits and pieces about all ancient civilisations like those of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, Babylon, etc. Initially, NCERT had requested Thapar to write a fresh book to adapt to the new syllabus. But, imagine the arrogance of the high priestess of Leftist academia, she not only refused but also asked NCERT to change its syllabus and match it with the chapterisation of her book. And, NCERT obliged! The same munificence was granted to Thapar'speers?the other ?eminent? historians.
The question that naturally arises is: Which civilised country allows its democratically evolved policies to be destroyed at the whims of a handful of persons? But, of course, the communists will argue that India is not a civilisation worthy of protection (remember what Karl Marx wrote about India in 1853?) and, therefore, anything goes. The history books make up just one manifestation of their sleight of hand. With a spineless minister like Arjun Singh at the helm, the communists are striking an unprecedented success rate with pushing their twisted ideology down the throats of India'sGeneration Next.
History is a particularly sensitive area of study. It must be remembered that 95 per cent of India'sstudents who complete the first 10 years of education do not prefer to study history from the ?plus two? stage upwards. Way back in 1966, Romila Thapar and her ilk realised the necessity to ?catch them young?. They reckoned that a sure way to control the minds of Indians was to shape their consciousness through a steady dose of Marxism-Leninism before they are lost to the professional courses. That is why we see most Indians, even of the most educated variety, harbouring ill-conceived ideas about India'shistory. They are not aware that the Aryan Invasion Theory is a hoax. They nurse a perception that ancient India had a feudal society marked by caste and gender discrimination, superstition and intellectual poverty. To them, the arrival of the Turks, Persians and Mughals was like a welcome influence which transported the Indian people to a higher level of spiritual and material prosperity. Few Indians are aware that far worse than the Jewish holocaust perpetrated by Adolf Hitler was the one committed on the people of India by waves of conquerors between the 11th and 18th centuries. For instance, even the most brilliant Indian Foreign Service officer who feigns ?specialisation? on Afghanistan, is scarcely aware about the significance of the name of the mountain range in that country?Hindu Kush. How many millions of Indians were slaughtered there will never be known, because our ?eminent? historians will ensure that it is never introduced into the national discourse.
They are not aware that the Aryan Invasion Theory is a hoax. They nurse a perception that ancient India had a feudal society marked by caste and gender discrimination, superstition and intellectual poverty. To them, the arrival of the Turks, Persians and Mughals was like a welcome influence which transported the Indian people to a higher level of spiritual and material prosperity.
NCERT is guilty of promoting communal ill-will. Instead of bringing the facts about Indian history into the open, the premier educational policy institution is pandering to the same vote-bank compulsions which mark the politics of Arjun Singh and his communist backers. When history books force Hindu and Sikh children to denounce their ancestors and praise their conquerors, a sense of inferiority is instilled into their minds. But, because the smriti and shruti traditions will not permit the vanishing of the collective memory of humiliation, rape and murder, a sense of rage is willy-nilly allowed to build up in young minds.
Simultaneously, the children from Islamic families are given a false sense of glory when they are brought in line with the conquerors from the West. If, on the other hand, they are informed that under the Mughals and Tuglaqs, their ancestors suffered as much as the Hindus, a sense of national reconciliation will be promoted. They will not be perceived as Aurangzeb ki aulad, but inheritors of a common past. If this is ?secularism?, then it will be resisted. Arjun Singh can expect hell fire and brimstone from nationalists.
(The author is senior editor, The Pioneer, and national spokesperson of Siksha Bachao Andolan.)