From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Nothing much
Mains level : Nationalisation of Education
Union Home Minister at a recent seminar in Banaras Hindu University on the 5th-century emperor, Skandagupta, declared: “Putting together our history, embellishing it and rewriting it is the responsibility of the country, its people and historians”. It suggests that there are different ways to write the history of India and that professional historians had not done their job properly so far.
Sangh – History
- Sangh Parivar has shown interest in the teaching of history. This is not only because it contributes to defining the national identity, but also because the Parivar believes the version of the past portrayed by secularists does not reflect reality.
- In 2014, the RSS formed a committee, the Bharatiya Shiksha Niti Aayog, to “Indianise” the education system. It was headed by Dinanath Batra, who had specialized in rewriting Indian history according to the canons of Hindu nationalism.
- In 2010, he had filed a civil suit to ban Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus, which he felt gave Hinduism a bad image.
- Batra also pressured the University of Delhi to remove from its syllabus an essay by A K Ramanujan — Three Hundred Ramayanas — that contradicted the Hindu nationalist idea that there was a single version of the epic.
- Leading Hindu nationalist historian, Y Sudershan Rao was appointed in 2014 to head the Indian Council of Historical Research.
- In the book, The Enemies of Indianisation: The Children of Marx, Macaulay, and Madrasa, he listed 41 major flaws. These reflect the historic leanings of the Hindu nationalists.
- Aryans – the idea that the Aryans came from another part of the world in ancient times because the Hindus could only be sons of the soil.
- Ancient India – all the glories attributed to ancient India in its epic poems are an accurate reflection of historical reality
- Muslim invaders – the Muslim invasions opened the darkest chapter in Indian history, starting with the destruction of Nalanda University in the 12th century up until the end of the Mughal empire.
- Freedom struggle – the standard account of the freedom movement ascribes too much importance to Gandhi and Nehru to the detriment of Hindu nationalist heroes.
- These flaws have been attributed to the secularist or Westernised nature of history textbook authors.
History – mythology
- Some Sangh thinkers also view history and mythology as being the same thing.
- They believe that historiographic research should focus on identifying the locations where the “events” described in the epics took place.
- This mixing up of history and mythology has become common since 2014.
- The textbooks put out by the NCERT which can be used in schools affiliated with the CBSE have been extensively rewritten.
- According to The Indian Express, between 2014 and 2018 1,334 changes were made to 182 textbooks put out by the NCERT between 2005 and 2009.
At the state level
- The scale on which Hindu nationalists are rewriting history can be most clearly gauged at the state government level.
- Rajasthan – revision of the history curriculum and changing of narratives formed an integral part of policy at the highest levels of government.
- The focus of teaching was to be on imparting nationalism and textbooks “would remove the chapters on the greatness of Akbar and include the heroics of Maharana Pratap”.
- This led to a process of regionalizing the history of the nation, wherein Pratap would become the central protagonist of the Medieval period.
- The Battle of Haldighati fought between Pratap and Akbar was altered to portray a victory for Pratap.
- Nationalism became the cornerstone of the new Rajasthan history textbooks. This was depicted through a hagiographical account of Hindu rulers, which focused on their early lives, territorial exploits, and differences in personal demeanor from their Muslim enemies.
- Besides, these textbooks revisited the prioritization of individuals associated with the freedom struggle.
- The first prime minister of the nation, Jawaharlal Nehru, has been omitted from the class 8 textbook, while B R Ambedkar is classified as a ‘Hindu social reformer’ to sanitize his fight against caste.
- The textbooks argue that Ambedkar’s efforts were similar to those of Dayanand Saraswati, Mahatma Gandhi and RSS founder K B Hedgewar.
- Ambedkar’s more radical contributions such as the Mahad Satyagraha, or his conversion to Buddhism are omitted altogether.
- The most celebrated “freedom fighter” is Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the founder of the Hindutva ideology. He figures in every history textbook from class 8 to 12 as someone “whose contribution to the cause of independence cannot be described in words”.
- For the BJP, the teaching of history is linked to the prioritization of certain communities and individuals in order to foster a particular spirit of nationalism among school students.
- In the states, the party has been most effective in transmitting its version of Indian history to the next generation of learners.