12th March 2018 was an amusing day when NDTV decided to publish an article on Political Parties Rewriting Books. But the biggest irony of that article was that it was written by Romila Thapar: the living legend of agenda-based distortions in academic history. She tried to suggest (in her article) that history textbooks cannot be subject to the whims and fancies of political change. I aim to demonstrate the hypocrisy behind these words and reiterate the genuine necessity for a transformation in our textbooks.
Today, in 2018 Romila says political ideology cannot change the truth. If only she told herself exactly that, some years ago. She has literally legitimised historical distortion in India and has born audacious political motives during her active years. So many things were that fell in line with the Marxist view of history, were suggested by her: including an uncanny bigotry towards Hinduism, half-baked knowledge, lies, lies and more lies. Some examples would help me convey my point better.
In her history books, she has placed massive emphasis on this idea of Hindus actually having an Aryan identity. Let’s have a look at such arguments in one of her own middle school textbooks, Ancient India:
Reference: Ancient India, (Chapter 3: Life in the Vedic Age, Pg. 48)
Notice how there is a massive emphasis on “Aryans arriving in India”. No reference to it being a theory, no reference of there being massive evidence against it. Just a bold assertion. Aside from that, she subtly incorporates the highly flawed ‘nasal index’ concept by saying that Dravidians or “Dasyus” had “flat noses”. This suggestion is very often brought up by the brigade of communist ‘intellectuals’ to divide on the basis of a false identity. She doesn’t stop there; naturally, Marxism in India not only involves dividing based on caste but also language. Therefore, she must obviously mention that they spoke different languages. As though that was not enough, she goes on to say that we apparently worshipped different Gods. Obviously, no historical evidence to back any of these claims, no quotations of scriptures of the time, no scientific evidence, just gutted declarations of there being a divide. In fact, the scriptures and DNA tests have proved the opposite of what Romila propagates here. But naturally, Ms Thapar has not made her motives clear enough, so do not worry dear Class 6 student. For if you answer the following questions that are only on Aryans (because that is what Ancient India was, wasn’t it?), one day you can become a Marxist too!
Reference: Ancient India, (Chapter 3: Life in the Vedic Age, Pg. 47)
If only she stopped there. But as you probably guessed, she doesn’t. She goes on to tell the student about the gods of the time.
Reference: Ancient India, (Chapter 3: Life in the Vedic Age, Pg. 50)
“Indra was the favourite god because he was strong and he could strike down the demons and the enemies of the Aryans”. Seriously? Firstly, there is no logical basis to announce Indra as the “favourite God”, because there’s nothing like that in any Veda, Upanishad, Purana, Itihasa or any documented piece of evidence for that matter. So it naturally makes you wonder- why would she bring up “favourite god”? Well, here’s the answer: “he could strike down the demons and enemies of the Aryans”. I almost laughed out when I read that!
Really? Is that what India’s “most eminent historian” resorts to? Indra, who is the king of Devas is perceived to somehow be pro-Aryan. But there is no logical basis to assume that. Much like her comrades, she wants you to believe that Rakshasas were “dark” and therefore “Dravidian”. Anyone who is therefore against Rakshasas is “fair” and therefore “Aryan”. So since Indra was perceived to be fair by the Marxist brigade, hallelujah! He not only struck down the enemies of Aryans but is suddenly their favourite God.
She does not stop there though. She goes on to pull every desperate attempt at misrepresenting Indian culture, just as every member of the Communist pseudo-intellectual squad has done. This time, she pronounces: “there is literary evidence” through hymns, stories and poems” to say that beef eating was a “common practice amongst Aryans”. In fact, she stands by these statements till date and has brought them up on various occasions:
Ref- India Today, Why right is not right: Historian Romila Thapar talks about the outburst against intolerance by the intellectuals
Of course, every source of firsthand Vedic information will condemn cow slaughter, just as none permit beef eating. Romila’s beloved literary evidence seems to work against her this time though because if I quoted to you: Rig-veda (10.87.16), Manu-Samhita (5.48-49), (Mahabharata, Anu.115.47) and tens of scriptures, you would know how wrong she is. One sample verse from the Atharva Veda (10.1.29) says:
The slaughter of an innocent, O Krityā, is an awful deed. Slay not a cow, horse, or any mortal.
Therefore, all her feisty claims launched out in history textbooks of young children are riddled with holes and fallacies. She herself had evidently promoted a very specific political ideology and would, therefore, be the last person I approached on any educational advice.
But for sake of argument, let us even ignore the fact that this suggestion (of “no change in history books”) came from Romila Thapar for a second. Should history textbooks be changed every single time a different party gains power?
The answer obviously is no.
Every time a new party comes into power, they cannot revolutionise the curriculum for no rhyme or reason. But when sheer lies are being taught to children, we cannot shy away from making changes. For example, if I had a textbook that somehow said:
“Our ancestors haven’t mentioned anywhere that they ever saw an ape turning into a man. So Darwinism is a myth”.
Whatever ideology you hold, as a rational person, you would ask for it to be removed from the textbook. Why?
Because it’s a delusion that you do not want children to study and ingrain into their minds. Previous governments have left ludicrous suggestions in the minds of little children that the government needs to get rid of. Therefore, although every party in power should not change books for the sake of displaying political muscle, genuine distortions call for a change.
I myself have examined the number of falsifications in a young student’s book, to prove the necessity for a refinement. I would even like to quote Smriti Irani’s famous speech in parliament:
History taught to standard 6th. I quote, madam speaker, “Kashmir is a much demonised land today that the State militates against… The atrocities of the Indian State”…There is a single prescribed textbook on Shivaji all over Maharashtra. Teachers from the schools in Bombay have expressed great difficulty in controlling emotions. One of them said, “The schools that have active enrollment of Muslim students are rushed through the chapter on Afzal Khan and Shivaji’s confrontation. It is a politically and socially loaded connotation. I can’t meet eye to eye with Muslim students, so I start my chapter with an apology. There are many Afzals in my class.”. As said by the teacher teaching in the 6th standard.
I do not attribute these specific distortions to Romila Thapar. But when such things are being taught to children, is it not fair to ask for books to be changed? How can you argue that this is about “political parties” when such things have been written and even commissioned irresponsibly by certain governments? Therefore change is a must in such situations.
Let us agree to something: laughable, yet equally sorry things are taught to Indian children due to some ‘academicians’ and their political inclinations and biases. It is even more saddening when these ‘intellectuals’ responsible for that corruption in knowledge, go on to talk about objectivity and worry about education now. Dear NDTV journalists, apologists and bigoted historians like Ms Thapar- please understand that we cannot be fooled anymore. If I, as a fifteen-year-old student, can see through your silly suggestions, so can the rest of our nation.
A teenager with fairly strong opinions on politics, religion, history and economics. Learner. Hoping to be a lawyer one day. Tweets at @AssertiveTeen