Mughals disappearing from textbooks across the country as history seems subject to change

Mughals are covered in great detail in Indian school textbooks. And the logic behind this is not hard to find. The Mughals ruled over large swathes of India, produced remarkable rulers, and left behind great architectural structures as well a significant amount of literature to ensure their imprint on the Indian subcontinent would be hard to forget.

But all this hasn't stopped some people from trying though. More specifically, educational bodies across India seem to be making a conscious effort to ensure future generations of students don't get to learn about such a significant part of the country's history.

The latest culprit is the Maharashtra State Education Board. According to a report in Mumbai Mirror, Class VII students will be learning a lot more about the Maratha empire established by Chhatrapati Shivaji from the next academic year. And this will come at the cost of chapters hitherto dedicated to the Mughal empire.

The Class VII textbook completely expunges portions about the Mughals and the Muslim rulers before them including Razia Sultana and Muhammad bin Tuqhlaq. Monuments built by these rules also don't find any mention in the textbooks. So, we may soon have students in Maharashtra who wouldn't know who built the Taj Mahal — one of the seven wonders of the world. They would also not know the history of the Qutub Minar or the Red Fort.

Representational image. AFP.

Representational image. AFP.

The report further added that the textbook keeps Shivaji as the focal point of medieval Indian history. It has expanded his role as well as that of his family and the Maratha generals. On the other hand, paragraphs on Razia Sultana (the first woman to rule Delhi) and Muhammad bin Tughluq's various eccentric decisions (shifting the empire's capital, replacing all coins overnight) as well as the reign of Sher Shah Suri have all had to be done away with.

This, of course, is not the first time that Mughals' references have been wiped out of Indian textbooks. The pioneer state for these activities has been Rajasthan, where it was reported that students would be taught that it was Maharana Pratap who won the Battle of Haldighati and not Akbar. Further, the suffix "the Great" too was removed from Akbar's name as students embarked on a study of history which was remarkably different from the ones that their peers were learning across the country.

And Rajasthan did not limit the rewriting of history just to schools though. In July, the Rajasthan University also got in on the act, changing details about the Battle of Haldighati, saying Maharana Pratap won against Akbar's army. This was done after a book titled Rashtra Ratna Maharana Pratap by Chandra Shekhar Sharma was included in the list of recommended readings for students of MA in History course. The book also implies that Akbar was not a "national element".

Apart from these instances where Mughals have actually been removed from the books recommended by state boards, organisations have also made efforts to change NCERT books. NCERT books are prescribed to CBSE students and are also read by civil services aspirants. RSS-affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, headed by Dinanath Batra in July, sent recommendations to the NCERT asking for removal of offensive portions from its books, reported The Wire.

From a chapter on the Mughal period, they wanted the following section removed: The rulers had an extremely liberal policy towards people. All Mughal rulers gave grants for the construction and maintenance of places of worship. Even when the temples were destroyed during battles, grants for their repair work were released later.

From the Class XII political science textbook, they did not like this line: Babri mosque was built by Mir Baqi. Some Hindus believe that it was built at the birthplace of Ram by destroying a Ram temple.

These idea also seem to have the clear backing of the ruling dispensation at the Centre. In 2016, Smriti Irani raised objections against a history book aimed at primary school pupils. She claimed that it misrepresented religious tensions in the country and insulted Shivaji, a Hindu warrior king who many view as a national hero. The idea snowballed from there, as the hashtag #RemoveMughalsFromBooks trended on social media for some time.

History is written by the victors, they say. Now that might be true enough. But no one said anything about rewriting history, did they?

Published Date: Aug 07, 2017 03:27 pm | Updated Date: Aug 07, 2017 03:27 pm

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