IHC: Changes mooted in NCERT textbooks biased | India News

IHC: Changes mooted in NCERT textbooks biased | India News

AGRA: The largest body of historians in the country, the Indian History Congress (IHC), has objected to the proposed changes of school textbooks, saying that it is being done for political, not academic, reasons.
At the beginning of the year, the Rajya Sabha secretariat had notified that a change in school textbook curriculum would be discussed by a parliamentary standing committee. In what it called a “reform”, it said the focus would be on removing “unhistorical facts” and “distortions about our national heroes”, and on ensuring “equal or proportionate references to all periods of Indian history”. Public responses were invited till June 30 and the deadline was later extended till July 15, when the IHC sent its response.
The IHC, established in 1935, has over 35,000 members.
“The IHC is much disturbed at the misinformation and biased view that is being projected in the name of bringing reforms in the existing NCERT textbooks,” the letter, a copy of which is with TOI, said. “The critique of the existing textbooks implicit in the ‘reforms’ being contemplated is not emerging from any expert body of nationally and internationally recognised historians but from a political position favoured by non-academic votaries of prejudice.”
The reason, the IHC said, it feared a “distortion” is because there is a precedent. “School textbooks written for the NCERT by some of the tallest scholars in the country … were actually removed, and in their places books with a clear sectarian, majoritarian bias were introduced in 2002,” the letter said. After significant blowback, the books were withdrawn a year later.
IHC members told TOI that books must be constantly reviewed and scrutinised. “But this should be done involving recognised scholars, with attention to academic content, derived from a research-based understanding of historical periods,” IHC secretary Prof Mahalaxmi Ramakrishnan said. “What we oppose is any attempt to present a distorted understanding of the historical past,” IHC president Amiya Bagchi added.
Besides, the IHC said, the reasons cited for the proposed change are unfounded. “The claim that there are ‘unhistorical facts and distortions’ with regard to national heroes is completely false,” the letter said. “Further, the claim regarding lack of equal space accorded to various periods of Indian history is not borne out by the books currently in use by the NCERT,” it added. In an accompanying note to establish what it said, the IHC listed primary sources, proportion of representation of each period of history, “national heroes” and “historical female figures” in the NCERT textbooks in use by students of classes VI to XII.
What added to the fears, IHC members said, was how the undergraduate history course was redesigned this year. The first paper proposed, for instance, is ‘Idea of Bharat’. “As if the concept of Bharat was there since time immemorial,” said IHC executive committee member Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi, who teaches at the Aligarh Muslim University’s history department. “Also, in the name of balancing, most aspects of the medieval period have been removed. What has, however, been emphasised is communal strife — so, most Sultans of Delhi Sultanate are out, Akbar is out, but Aurangzeb and Shivaji are retained.”
A day before the IHC sent out its letter, the Archaeological Survey of India had announced it was going to remove plaques at Rakta Talai in Rajasthan, which say Maharana Pratap’s forces retreated from the battle at Haldighati, fought against Akbar in 1576. New plaques will be put up soon.

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