The University Grants Commission (UGC), a statutory body that is responsible for the maintenance of standards of higher education in universities, has published a draft [pdf] History syllabus for B.A. History, undergraduate programme. The main aspect of the draft is that it covers every aspect of Indian history.
The Idea of Bharat
The first paper of B.A. History deals with ‘The Idea of Bharat’. It covers a vast array of topics ranging from the Concept of Bharatvarsha, Indian Knowledge Tradition, Art and Culture, Dharma, Science, Medieval Science, Indian Economic Traditions and more. It will cover Vedas, Upanishads, Epics, Jain and Buddhist Literature, the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, Indian numeral system and Mathematics, Maritime Trade and several other subjects.
The draft says, “Students will acquire knowledge regarding the primitive life and cultural status of the people of ancient India.” It further added that these subjects would enable students to gather knowledge about the society, culture, religion and political history of ancient India. “They will also acquire the knowledge of changing socio-cultural scenarios of India,” it added.
The mention of Indus-Saraswati Civilisation
The third paper covers the historiographical trends and interpretations of historical sources of ancient India. It will cover information about the Vedic period, the rise of Jainism and Buddhism and several other topics. What is the most interesting aspect of this section is the mention of “Indus-Saraswati Civilisation” and its continuity, fall and survival. It will also cover the debunked Aryan invasion theory that some alleged historians still use to create differences among Hindus.
Calling a spade a spade – The mention of Invaders
Till now, the history books of the undergraduate programme often fail to use the word ‘invaders’ with Babur and Timur. In the draft, these rulers are mentioned as invaders.
Opposition by leaders
However, some political leaders and ‘intellectuals’ see it to be aligned with the RSS’ belief system. Leftist portal Telegraph has quoted unnamed teachers and students saying that it is an attempt to “saffronisation and distortion” by playing up the Vedic period and Hindu religious texts. The unnamed ‘students and teachers’ also alleged that the new syllabus would diminish the ‘importance of Muslim’ rule.
In fact, it even quoted one unnamed student from Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College who was upset that the Idea of Bharat “glorifies ancient Indian civilisation by equating it with ‘eternity'”. Jeetendra Meena, assistant professor of History at Delhi University’s Shyam Lal College was quite upset that the new syllabus ‘glorifies’ religious literature and ‘dropped secular literature’. Meena was also upset that the Mughal history is ‘sidelined’.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi was also furious. He has alleged that BJP is using syllabus to introduce its own Hindutva ideology into textbooks. In a tweet, he said, “Education is not propaganda. BJP is using the syllabus to introduce its own Hindutva ideology into textbooks. There is a place to study mythology, religious texts, oral traditions, etc., but it is not in undergraduate history courses.”
Demonising our Muslim past & sidelining historical texts like Arthashastra. Removing chapters on pre-1857 rebellions, Dalit politics & reducing attention on people like Ambedkar, Gandhi, Nehru, Patel should tell you everything about what the real purpose of this effort is— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) March 23, 2021
He further added that the course was demonising the Muslim past and questioned the ‘real idea’ behind the draft.