The subject of a raging controversy , Queen Padmavati who is the protaganist of 16th century poem by a Sufi poet, has found her way into the question paper for M.A. history examination in the Banaras Hindu University.
“What do you mean by Johar tradition? Describe Rani Padmavati ’s Johar in the period of Allaudin Khalji,” a question in the medieval history paper asked.
The question carried 10 marks.
The paper also featured a question on the contentious triple talaq issue . “Discuss about teen talaq and halala as a social evil in Islam,” the paper read.
As part of the semester paper on Society and Culture in Medieval India, the students also had the option of describing the “position of Muslim women in the Sultanate Age”.
Professor Tabir Kalam of the history department confirmed the content of the paper but said he could not pinpoint who set the questions. “It was set by three-four different persons,” he said.
Assistant Professor Rajiv Srivastava, also of the medieval history department, was not available on telephone but while talking to a news agency he justified the questions as being relevant.
Issues featuring in the question paper “automatically become a part of the syllabus when you teach medieval history and history of Islam,” he said.
While many modern historians have said that the historicity of Padmavati was unproven , the BHU professor said it was important to get the correct information about the raging subject to the students.
“Students ask a lot about things that are relevant and contemporary. It is important to tell students about these issues, which become controversial. Many issues in medieval era are disputed. Under such circumstances if we don’t tell students about the correct history, they will not be able to narrate the correct things,” Mr. Srivastava said.
The professor further said that it was important to cover issues related to Islamic society and culture in the medieval era. “Islam is not an Indian religion. It came from outside. It brought both good and negative aspects. Both Islamic and Hindu cultures are taught in history, as they both had an impact on each other,” he said.
The history paper comes after students sitting for the political science examination recently were asked to write what Kautilya, the advisor to emperor Chandra Gupta Maurya, thought of GST and Manu on globalization.
The history paper also had a short question asking students the location of the Taj Mahal and a long-answer question on the role played by saints in “Hindu-Muslim unity” in the medieval era.