A research report published by a prestigious think tank presented before the Parliamentary Committee on education has stated that History textbooks published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and textbooks issued by the Kerala government give disproportionate attention to Mughal rulers, caste issues and barely mentions the achievements of Hindu kings, Indian saints, social reformers etc.
According to a report by the Economic Times, the research produced by Public Policy Research Center (PPRC) director Sumeet Bhasin, researchers Chandni Sengupta, Deepa Kaushik and Sanket Kate, titled “Distortions and Misrepresentations of India’s Past: History Textbooks and Why they need to change“, has highlighted that NCERT textbooks have deliberately overstated the contributions of Mughal rulers to India.
Analysing the NCERT History textbooks in detail, the research think tank has revealed that there is an average of 97 references to Emperor Akbar, 30 references to Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb and Jahangir each. However, there are only eight references to Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji, and there are hardly any references to Rajput kings Rana Sanga and Maharana Pratap.
Think tank compares Kerala and Gujarat textbooks
The group of researchers have also compared history textbooks ordered by the education boards of the Kerala and Gujarat governments in detail to highlight the distortions and a skewed view of India’s history in Kerala textbooks.
According to the researchers, the NCERT and the Kerala textbooks has put greater emphasis on accounts of Muslim chroniclers like Ibn Batuta, along with social reform movements and reformers, and ignored the works of Chanakya, Bodhayan, Bhaskaracharya, Aryabhatta and the works of social reformers such as Swami Dayanand Saraswati and Swami Vivekananda, the ET report said.
The think tank also pointed out how Kerala textbooks “blacked out” references to ancient India and Rig Veda while overstating the caste of Hindu saints who led the Bhakti movement and also downplayed their philosophy and teachings. In their research, the think tank also said that NCERT textbooks excessively use words such as “gotra, jati, and varna”.
The research report praised the Gujarat government’s approach to history, wherein it “underplayed the caste system, valorised Rajput women and talked about the role women in ancient India played in society”.
The Gujarat textbooks, while mentioning the four varnas, have not gone into their details and have chapters on different temples of the country and how they survived assaults by invaders, an account missing in Kerala and NCERT textbooks, the report said.
On Kerala History textbooks, the research says it has just a few passing references to the 1857 uprising, while NCERT makes it centred around Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, as opposed to Gujarat textbooks that have highlighted the role of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, Tatya Tope and Nanasaheb.
The report has also revealed that the textbooks gave prominence to MK Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru in chapters of Modern India from classes eight to twelve. At the same time, nationalists leaders such as Sardar Patel, Lokmanya Tilak, Bhagat Singh, Surya Sen, Khudiram Bose have been dropped from these chapters.
In its detailed report submitted to the Parliamentary panel, the researchers have also made nine recommendations, including one to stop the publication of textbook content glorifying the “invasions of Arabs, Turks, and Mughals”. They have also proposed a history rewriting project that will highlight the glorious past of India, its civilizing greatness, the rationality of Vedic rituals, development in the field of medicine and the importance of Sanskrit.
The researchers have recommended teaching topics such as the desecration of Hindu and Jain temples, particularly in the cases of the Somnath temple in Gujarat, the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque in Delhi, Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra in Ajmer and others. They have also highlighted the need of highlighting stories of Hindu kings like Raja Dahir, Maratha and Rajput rulers like Tanhaji, Rani Durgavati and Rani Kiran Devi Rathore in the textbook.