Indian History Congress denounces changes in NCERT syllabi

It urged historians to stand up against ‘distortions of history’

Updated - April 11, 2023 07:18 am IST

Published - April 10, 2023 10:37 pm IST - New Delhi

NCERT Books at the Thiruvottriyur Branch Library.

NCERT Books at the Thiruvottriyur Branch Library. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Indian History Congress has said that it is “greatly alarmed by the changes in the history syllabi and textbooks” recently effected by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT), and urged historians to stand up against “distortions of history”.

The body issued a statement signed by its president Professor Kesavan Vekuthat and secretary Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi, expressing apprehensions about the consequences of the new changes.

“The Indian History Congress has been greatly alarmed by the changes in the History syllabi and textbooks that have recently been effected by central official agencies, leading to a plainly prejudiced and irrational perception of our past,” the statement read.

The distortions

It pointed out that the University Grants Commission (UGC), in the draft syllabus that it has framed for the Bachelor’s course for History, claims for India the “honour” of being the Aryan homeland, deems the epics as possible historical chronicles and excludes all reference to caste system in its ancient India portion. In fact, it expressly treats the caste system as an institution arising after the coming of Islam, the statement added.

Likewise, Mughal emperor Akbar along with his policy of religious tolerance between various religions has been totally excluded from the syllabus. “The students in the Bachelor’s course would not thus learn of any cultural or intellectual developments of the Mughal era [neither Kabir, nor Tulsidas nor Abul Fazl],” it read.

It claimed that the same process of “misrepresentation has been introduced in the prescribed History textbooks by omitting whole sections, along with individual passages and sentences [or parts thereof]”. These include complete omission of the narrative of the Mughal dynasty which gave India political unity for such a long period, and sundry other deletions of statements that are held to be inconsistent with the narrow communalist formulations favoured by the present regime. Even the narrative of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination has been trifled with, the statement added.

The Indian History Congress recalled its own effort from twenty years ago when it published a volume assessing critically the History textbooks then published by the NCERT, pointing out their various errors and misjudgments. They were subsequently withdrawn.

“It is now necessary for all historians, loyal to the rational and scientific nature and purpose of their profession, to stand up and make it clear that such distortions of History as the NCERT has now sought to spread through its deletions and revisions are simply unacceptable,” the IHC statement said.

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