-Hemant Goswami –
Anything which challenges a cemented perception of nearly 200 years is sure to be controversial, and so is the book, ‘Brainwashed Republic,’ written by Neeraj Atri and Munieshwer A Sagar. The book attempts to highlight and challenge the underlying subtle tone, biases and manipulations of the Indian history as taught in schools through the mainstream NCERT books.
Though the genesis of a systematic agenda- driven teaching was started after the 1835 English Education Act and the policies accompanying it, the author points out that more such changes were incorporated, and the narration of the same sharpened, after 2004 when the UPA government came to power. The authors emphatically underline that, “A systematic malicious campaign is being run to divide the country on caste, linguistic, racial, gender and religious lines; and the bedrock of such an evil edifice is being erected on the historical narrative crafted shrewdly in the NCERT history text books.”
The authors emphasise that the message of hate and division is so subtle and masterfully crafted that while it brainwashes children over the years, it can elude experts as well. The authors take a scientific approach in exposing the distortions and lies incorporated in NCERT history books.
It was interesting to realise in the course of the book that in order to inquire into the entire gamut of controversial issues, the authors had sent representations to NCERT; and filed over a hundred right to information applications, besides filing a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana HIgh Court to force NCERT to take notice of all the distortions incorporated in the school books, and take corrective measures.
The authors pick out the long thread of propaganda that keeps together the NCERT’s historical narrative and highlight that instead of a fact-based history, the NCERT books highlight the range of propaganda tools and fallacies-of-logic. Ad nauseam, appeal to authority, appeal to prejudice, bandwagon, big lie, cherry picking, classical conditioning, disinformation, euphemism, exaggeration, glittering generalities, guilt by association, half-truths, intentional vagueness, labelling, loaded language, oversimplification, testimonial, third party technique, unstated assumption, thought-terminating cliché, and transfer or association, are some of the propaganda techniques and deliberate syllogistic errors employed by the NCERT to manufacture a corrupted version of India’s past.
The book insists that the gravest victim of this malicious NCERT propaganda is Ancient India. Its social structure and scriptures are depicted as primitive, exploitative, misogynist, regressive and inhuman. All the pillars on which the Indian civilization has survived and thrived have been
systematically delegitimised, underplayed and pilloried. To undermine the grand narrative of India, its language, scriptures, intellectuals, kings and heritage have been derided by unbridled use of propaganda tools. Whereas in contrast to the Indian heritage, foreign invaders and their religions are presented in glowing terms; and again, this is done in contravention of genuine historical records or factual analysis. Instead of a realistic and balanced view of the interactions between the indigenous and foreign cultures, the NCERT history textbooks expunge contribution of the Indic society from records. They posit Indic culture and religion as subservient and inferior to the imperialistic foreign rulers’. The NCERT authors’ lies thus force the children to internalise that if ever anything good happened in the country or if it ever achieved anything positive, it was all a contribution of foreigners. This is how the Indians are brainwashed, insist the authors.
In the chapter, “Uprooting the linguistic heritage”, the book highlights that the attack on Sanskrit language is pervasive in all the NCERT history textbooks, but it is very subtle. Each and every time the NCERT authors mention Sanskrit in the textbooks it is associated with a negative concept like misogyny, colonialism, exploitation and inequality. It is presented as a language of colonialists imposed on the natives and local languages. It is shown as an exclusivist language, used by Brahmins for exploiting the ‘natives’.
It is refreshing that in times when the ideology and rhetoric have replaced an informed debate, the authors of the book, however, restrain from any such fruitless exercise. This unprecedented documentation of the distortion in NCERT history text books can prove to be a valuable tool for all those who believe in facts deciding the historical narrative and not some biased ideology. The book also exposes how deep the rot has set in our academia where a coterie of ideological driven historians can be allowed to falsify entire historical narrative and that also while being depended on public money.
The book, however, fails to highlight the reasons as to why NCERT presents a distorted and divisive historical narrative.
(The writer is an academician and Civil Rights activist)
Bibek Debroy (Translator); Penguin Random House; Pp 608 Rs 599
The great epic Harivamsha is a
orgeous, lucid rendering of the majestic conclusion
to the Mahabharata. As an epilogue to the greatest epic of all times, the ‘Harivamsha’ elaborates on the myriad conflicts of dharma and struggle between good and evil. At the centre of all these magnificent tales is the mercurial figure of Krishna, whose miraculous life and wondrous exploits are recounted with vivid detail.