Review school texts to include wisdom of the Vedas, other scriptures: Parliamentary panel
Many historical figures and freedom fighters incorrectly portrayed as offenders, says panel
School textbooks should incorporate the “ancient wisdom, knowledge and teachings about life and society from the Vedas and other great Indian texts”, according to a Parliamentary panel on education. History textbooks should also give greater importance to unknown freedom fighters, women heroes, the empires of the Deccan and the history of the Northeast, and the Sikh and Maratha communities, added the panel.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports submitted its report on reforms in the content and design of school textbooks to the Rajya Sabha on November 30. The panel held consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, including the State and Central institutions, responsible for drafting textbooks and curricula, as well as education experts and civil society representatives.
A major chunk of the panel’s final observations related to history textbooks. “The committee during its interaction noted that many of the historical figures and freedom fighters of [the] Indian freedom struggle have been portrayed in an incorrect manner as offenders. Therefore, the committee is of the view that wrong portrayal of our heroes of freedom struggle should be corrected and they should be given due respect in our history textbooks,” it said.
The panel recommended that the Education Ministry set up a monitoring mechanism to ensure that all privately published books, especially history books, which were recommended for supplementary reading were in consonance with the structure and content of the texts published by NCERT to avoid discrepancies.
Arguing that school textbooks “do not give adequate coverage to some of the great Indian empires like that of Vikramaditya, Cholas, Chalukyas, Vijaynagar, Gondwana or that of Travancore and Ahoms of the Northeast”, the panel recommended an overhaul of history-writing guidelines to give equal weightage to various eras. Content production teams also needed to dig deeper into local sources of knowledge to identify hitherto unknown men and women who had impacted Indian history, but there also needed to be a greater focus on world history, especially the linkages between India and southeast Asia, said the report.
Ancient India’s contributions to various fields of study and the linkages between traditional Indian knowledge systems and modern science needed to be highlighted said the panel. It also suggested that the Vedas, the Bhagavad Gita and some important teachings from all religious scriptures be included in school texts. “It may also be pointed out here that at the University of Tehran, Iran, Upanishad is taught as a subject but in India, very few Universities teach the same,” added the report.
The panel recommended that all NCERT textbooks be published in all Eighth Schedule languages, with further translations into local languages not included in the official list, so that all children could access resources in their own mother tongues. It also offered suggestions for more child-friendly textbooks with additional audio-visual and interactive content, as well as the development of more digital learning resources.