The Akhil Bharatiya Itihaas Sankalan Yojna (ABISY),
an organisation linked to the RSS, has arranged a workshop for over 100
historians in Gujarat to take the project towards realisation, the report says.
Dinanath Batra, the convener of Shiksha Bachao
Andolan Samiti, who could successfully pressurise Penguin to withdraw American
Indologist Wendy Doniger's book “The Hindus: An Alternative History.” has been
advocating for an overhaul of national curriculum framework (NCF) and revision
of the school textbooks.
"National Council for Educational Research and
Training (NCERT) textbooks will be rewritten according to the aim and objects of
the nation so that it inculcates feeling of patriotism among children. Modernity
is not westernisation. We want modernity with Indian base," wrote the
Times of India quoting Batra as saying.
Batra has historically been the man behind the
push for more 'saffron textbooks,' says Hassan Suroor of the
Firstpost adding that, as the lead campaigner
for RSS-affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas (SSUN), Batra was the driving
force behind reforms Murli Manohar Joshi introduced as HRD minister. Joshi had
pursued the issue of rewriting history doggedly, even introduced changes to
NCERT textbooks and later faced backlash for them from non-BJP ruled states,
which claimed that the books had extensive factual errors and refused to use
them. Batra's involvement, Suroor writes, is the clearest indicator of who is
driving such decisions.
In lines of the idea perceived by Batra, while
replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha in the context of rising crime in the
country, Home Minister Rajnath Singh emphasised upon the need to inculcate
values in the public to bring about a “change in perception” and said, “There is
also a need to change the contents in textbooks so that youngsters know what our
It was almost like an endorsement to the idea from
Smriti Irani, India’s Human Resource Development minister, who spoke in her
speech at a symposium titled “Restructuring of our education system with
Bharatiya perspective of values,” held in Hyderabad, that to build a resurgent
nation which would be stronger, resilient and humane, India needed “course
correction” to be done in the education policy, which was last formulated in
While right wing organisations and most of their
leaders are in favour of rewriting history on the view that the history needs a
nationalistic perspective as the existing syllabi and the textbooks have a
Leftist perspective or Marxist lenience, historians like Romila Thapar and
elites term such attempt as violation of human rights and intellectual freedom.
About allegations that the present curricula and
textbooks are left lenient, eminent historian Professor Romila Thapar says, “It
is perhaps worth pointing out that the kind of history that is often dismissed
by Hindutva ideologues as Marxist is not actually Marxist but bears the stamp of
the social sciences. The distinction between the two, despite its importance to
the interpretation of history, is generally glossed over by the proponents of
Hindutva. This is largely because they have scant understanding of what is meant
by a Marxist interpretation of history and therefore fail to recognise it. For
them, a Marxist is simply someone who opposes the Hindutva ideology.
Consequently, a range of historians unexpectedly find themselves dubbed as
“What is being referred to as the saffronisation
of education is, in effect, the de-intellectualising of education in such a
severe way that little of academic value will be left in what comes to be taught
in the next few years. Totalitarian ideologies are built on cynicism and the new
national curriculum is immensely cynical,” says Thapar in her keynote address at
the National Consultation on Communalisation of School Education.
“The question now is whether educational reform
will be used not just to create an educated citizenry and trained work force but
also to promote a particular ideology,” asked
The New York Times in one of its editorial.
“The assault on history is part of the assault on
knowledge. It will not stop with history. But history is one of the easier
subjects for starting such a campaign since everyone thinks they know history
and there is nothing new in it. However, the undermining of history is also
essentially the undermining of the social sciences and the danger is not limited
to history but to all the social sciences,” says historian Thapar.
Dubbing it as march of Metahistory, historian
Robert C Williams writes in his book The Historian’s Toolbox, “Metahistory
provided the underpinning of two monstrous dictatorships of the twentieth
century in Europe: Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.”
“Nazis and Marxists also rewrote, or altered,
history to suit the party line, not the truth. The Aryan race and the working
class became collective heroes of a deadly new kind of official history,” says
Keeping these examples in view, no nation or a
civilised society can, and should, afford to allow Metahistory to exist in the
guise of history. The question now is whether India should respect plurality and
opt for just “history” in its education system or allow “Metahistory” to march
into its school syllabi and text books.
In rejection of the idea of altering history,
Hindustan Times newspaper mentioned in one of
its editorial comments, “The freedom of choice cannot be curtailed because a
certain view does not fit into the cookie cutter culture that some are
attempting to foist on us. India is pluralistic, inclusive and multi-cultural.
That is our great strength.”