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Homechevron_rightOpinionchevron_rightEditorialchevron_rightWhat history is being...

What history is being taught to our children?

What history is being taught to our children?

“Gandhi's strong push for Hindu-Muslim unity incensed Hindutva extremists, who made several attempts to assassinate him. The assassination of Gandhi had a significant impact on the communal situation in the country. The central government responded by cracking down on hate organizations, including imposing temporary bans on groups such as the RSS.” This lesson, which has been included in the 12th-grade political science textbook of NCERT for years, highlights the importance of these events. As part of curriculum reforms that briefly describe the national freedom struggle, partition, Gandhi's assassination, and subsequent events, NCERT, an autonomous institution under the central government, has removed many references to Gandhi's assassination. These "reform attempts" can also be found in various textbooks, including those on History, Politics, Sociology, Civics, and Hindi.

In general, NCERT has recently introduced a new syllabus that portrays a history palatable to the central government while deliberately rejecting current political events. As part of this effort, they have removed information about the Gujarat genocide and Mughal rule from the curriculum. The erased historical records encompass a wide range of topics, including poetry that commemorates the struggles and interventions of Dalit movements in India, as well as the rule of Congress in post-independence India. Dinesh Saklani, the Director of NCERT, maintains that this decision was made in accordance with the opinions of subject experts and all applicable regulations. However, given the current political climate in India, it cannot be viewed lightly. The ruling Sangh Parivar government appears to be intent on rewriting history by incorporating Hindu mythology, while simultaneously destroying national history and historical monuments. The actions taken by NCERT can be viewed only as a continuation of this program.

Right since the Vajpayee-led NDA government assumed power, Hindutva forces have intensified efforts to influence the education sector. NCERT has been implicated in this propaganda. In the 7th-grade history book, Mughal rulers were portrayed as brutal invaders and uncivilized, which was a highly controversial position. The Sultanate and Mughal periods were consistently referred to as the 'Dark Ages' throughout the book. However, in 2004, after the UPA government came to power, all these changes were reversed, and the book was restored to its old content. In 2014, when the Sangh Parivar returned to power with Narendra Modi at the helm and a larger mandate, the pace of textbook 'reforms' also accelerated. This marks the third time in eight years that NCERT has made such a move to revise the syllabus in a manner that glorifies certain historical periods and downplays others. The first significant revision occurred in 2017, where 1334 changes were made across 182 textbooks with the announcement that children should learn about economic reforms, and matters like the GST were included. An that was how, some of several distorted and absurdly erronous ideas, which were even presented at science congresses, found their way into textbooks up to the 12th standard. Things that previously were considered myths are now being presented as historical facts.In 2018, another round of revisions were introduced with the purported aim to reduce the study load for children, with NCERT recommending that certain lessons be omitted. Only after this change did national leaders, such as Nehru, started being out of the text books. With the latest syllabus overhaul, the denial of history by Hindutva proponents has touched its nadir. The central government's efforts of deletion of such areas of study amounts to a rejection of the country's historical and cultural traditions, as well as its democratic values. On another level, the saffronisation of history based on the back of the force of power and political influence is occurring at an alarming rate. Democrats must realize that the creation of a xenophobic historical narrative only serves to strengthen the fascist regime. As such, it is the responsibility of the anti-fascist coalition to speak out against these actions.

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TAGS:politicssyllabuseducationHindutvacensorshipfascismHistoryNCERTpropagandacurriculumdemocratic valuesrevision
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