Why Indian history textbooks at the school level curriculum must be changed without delay
Indian history should be more about the greatness of ancient India in a way as it was, while also keeping the brutalities of the invaders alive by presenting their actual deeds without whitewashing them
On 23 April the news came of changes in the syllabus of CBSE wherein several chapters from the history and political science syllabi of Classes 11 and 12 were removed, which include the Non-Aligned Movement, the Cold War era, the rise of Islamic empires in Afro-Asian territories, the chronicles of Mughal courts and the industrial revolution. Similarly, for class 10 the topic “impact of globalisation on agriculture” from a chapter on 'Food Security' has also been removed. CBSE also removed two translated verses of Faiz in Urdu in the 'Religion, Communalism and Politics — Communalism, Secular State'. The course content chapters on 'democracy and diversity' were also excluded.
From the time the new government was elected to power in 2014, there have been constant demands for changes in the school syllabus and content matter, especially in that of history, in order for a much-needed course correction. However, no changes were made in the syllabi until 2020, leading to major discontent among the citizens. Why the syllabus remained unchanged despite strong demands from the public remains an unsolved question best left to the education minister handling the department at that time.
Last year, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi put emphasis on Indic history and heritage in his speeches, arrived the news of the government and UGC launching new syllabus for the BA history course. The changes include a greater focus on Indic Philosophy, Art, Culture, and Science practised in ancient India. The course corrections also included the studies of the various Indic dynasties heretofore left neglected by the previous educationists, the adverse impact of Islamic invasions on Indic culture, terming the ‘Aryan Invasion Theory’ as a myth that it indeed is, and the renaming of Indus valley civilisation as the Indus-Saraswati civilisation, a much-required change to represent the true geographical spread of this great civilisation.
Changes in Classes 4-10 texts extremely important
The course corrections made for the BA history course are essential; however, what is more important for the education ministry is to start making curriculum changes at the school levels with immediate urgency. Graduation level studies are for a specific set of adult students, limited in number and aiming to study a specific subject. School-level on the other hand has students in their formative years where their understanding of a subject, analytical skills, and rational thinking skills are slowly developing. Here there are children who will branch out later in life to follow various educational streams in the future and grow up to become doctors, engineers, educationists, entrepreneurs, etc.
These students will not take up history for graduation; so the history they learn at the school level will ultimately colour their thinking about their country, culture, and religion. This is why it is so important to present the true form of Indian history (history as it actually happened, and not some fake narrative created by the Marxist “academicians”) at this stage of life. The formative years create impressions that tend to stay life-long; hence it is essential to create the right impression during these school years, especially between Class 4 and Class 10, where history is a part of the regular curriculum and compulsory for all students.
Distortion of Indian history
Indian history has faced massive distortions from the time of British rule, when the colonial rulers suffering from a sense of superiority over their brown subjects, and seeing their presence in India as “divinely ordained” for civilising the natives, decided to stamp out Indic-ness (culture, religious beliefs, and educational system). To achieve their objectives the British worked in two ways: First, they introduced the English form of education based on Macaulay’s recommendations, which was a highly Christianised system of learning and projected white Europe as a highly progressive nation. Second, they started a well-planned systematic process of belittling ancient Indian knowledge by mocking its culture, ancient scientific knowledge, ancient medical sciences, customs, traditions, education, etc.
As Macauley, who devised this cunning scheme, in his 1835 written Minute had arrogantly claimed, Hindus had nothing in their favour except “false history, false astronomy, false medicine…in company with a false religion.” This cunningly set task for erasing ancient Indian history was too devious for most Indians to understand at that time. This is best explained in the letter Lord Canning wrote during the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny: “As we must rule 150 millions of people by a handful of Englishmen, let us do it in the manner best calculated to leave them divided and to inspire them with the greatest possible awe of our power and with the least suspicion of our motives.” (ref: P. Hardy, “The Muslims of British India,” 1972, p. 72).
At this time the European civilisation that was young and dynamic appeared attractive to many Indians when they compared it with Hinduism which looked jaded, dormant and weighed down by centuries of invasions and internal strife. Seeing this vacuum as an opportunity, Macaulay wrote his doctrines, and proudly proclaimed to his father in 1836, “Our English schools are flourishing wonderfully…the effect of this education on the Hindoos is prodigious. No Hindoo who has received an English education ever remains sincerely attached to his religion...it is my firm belief that, if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolater among the respectable classes…” (ref: George Trevelyan, “Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay, vol 1, 1876”; 2008. p. 406).
While Macaulay’s hopes did not materialize as he had envisioned and Hinduism did not vanish as he had expected, it did create an Anglicised English speaking segment in the society that became partially Christianised, owing to his devised English education system. This class looked at Europe as a superior culture, with a disdain for Hinduism and ancient India.
The British left India in 1947, yet almost 75 years down the line, we find we have not been able to move out of the Macaulay’s created educational doctrines; and if things are analysed properly it will be seen that if nothing else, the situation has further worsened post-Independence under the Nehruvian group of “scholars”. Indian History got even more distorted thanks to the Marxist-Islamist group of “historians” that took over post-1980s, once the old history masters such as RC Mazumdar died and the arena was left free.
These distortionists took over the entire educational field and firmly believed in the line “catch them young,” they made rapid changes in the school-level textbooks, where brutal Islamic invasions and Christian missionaries’ fanatic acts were whitewashed, and softened down to even glorify these invaders and fanatics. Indus-Saraswati civilization (Sindhu-Saraswati civilization) was slowly turned into the Indus valley civilization, and the Saraswati river was turned into a mythical river (all from 1980s). The Aryan Invasion Theory or narrative was slowly brought back into school textbooks to show Indics were not indigenous to India and also to create a rift between the northern Aryans and southern Dravidians. Mughal dynasties were given prominence in history books in classes 8-9, cleverly devised to keep them at the stage where students were mature enough to remember what they studied as history, while very few Hindu dynasties were taught.
All the propaganda narratives carefully planned were used as brainwashing tools to glorify the invaders and develop a sense of self-loathing and a feeling of disdain for their own Indic religion. All information about the achievements of ancient India in the field of science, technology, architecture, art, medical sciences, etc, were removed from both school and higher education levels, and claims of ancient India discovering or inventing anything were immediately mocked and shot down during discussions.
Historians, who did not belong to the Left-Islamic camp, were sidelined and witch-hunted, often ending their careers, thus making sure their voices were silenced and did not reach the common citizens. Sanskrit as a language study was slowly discouraged and finally done away with.
“Through all of Sushruta’s flowery language, incantations and irrelevancies, there shines the unmistakable picture of a great surgeon.
Undaunted by his failures, unimpressed by his successes, he sought the truth unceasingly and passed it on to those who followed.
He attacked disease and deformity definitively, with reasoned and logical methods.”
– Frank McDowell in ‘The source book of plastic surgery’
The impact of the Macaulay’s doctrines on Indic culture is best summed up by Swami Vivekananda: “The child is taken to school, and the first thing he learns is that his father is a fool, the second thing that his grandfather is a lunatic, the third thing that all his teachers are hypocrites, the fourth, that all the sacred books are lies! By the time he is 16, he is a mass of negation, lifeless and boneless. And the result of that fifty years of such education has not produced one original man in the three presidencies…We have learnt only weakness.” (ref: “Swami Vivekananda on India and her problems,” Advaita Ashram, 1985, pp. 38-39).
It is clear from Vivekananda’s quote that the burden and guilt of being a Hindu is injected into the school years through the textbooks. Started by the British, and later mastered into an art by the Marxist-Islamic “historians”, these textbooks are where the narratives were set for distorting the Indic history of ancient India and glorifying the invaders that brutalised India. Hence, the government should not only highlight more ancient Indian history in the higher studies curriculum but possibly modify or even rewrite the school history textbooks that aim at brainwashing children from a very tender age.
Our Indian history books should not be a scripted history full of lies that aim at falsely glorifying the invaders that came from outside and in reality unleashed their brutalities on the common people. Indian history should be more about the greatness of ancient India in a way it was, while also keeping the brutalities of the invaders alive by presenting their actual deeds without whitewashing them.
The author is a well-known travel and heritage writer. Views expressed are personal.
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