'Saffronised syllabus erodes NCERT credibility'

NEW DELHI, JAN. 31. Breaking their silence a week-and-a-half after the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) released its syllabi for all subjects, historians opposed to the Sangh Parivar school of thought today said the history syllabus was not only ``saffronised'', but it also failed to stand up to academic scrutiny.

Coming together under the SAHMAT banner, the historians said the manner in which the curriculum had been revised - despite objections from a cross-section of society - had eroded the credibility of the NCERT as an academic body.

``With the NCERT authorities going ahead with the implementation of the agenda drawn up by the Sangh Parivar, the distinction between the academic agenda of a national-level academic organisation and the communal agenda of the Sangh Parivar has been obliterated.''

Speaking to presspersons here, the eminent historian, Irfan Habib, said ``there have been differences of opinion in the past, but the present Government has reduced all controversies to an unacceptably low level.''

On the view that the ideas ``manufactured'' by the Sangh Parivar ideologues, and rejected by reputed right-wing historians such as R. C. Majumdar, had found their way into the syllabus, Prof. Habib said the syllabus was not only anti-Muslim, but also reflected the regional and religious prejudices of the Sangh Parivar.

As proof of the regional bias, he said there was no mention of the Dravidian connection to the Harappan Civilisation, while a Vedic connection had been introduced.

Referring to the NCERT's contention that the new syllabus covered areas ignored by the one it seeks to replace, the NCERT's former head of the Department of Education in Social Sciences and Humanities, Arjun Dev, said no political unit of the Deccan and South, except the Rashtrakutas, find a mention in the syllabus of

Ancient India for Class XI. Even the Satavahanas, Pallavas, Chalukyas and Cholas do not find a place.

Challenging the NCERT's defence that an equal number of periods had been given to Ancient and Medieval India, Prof. Habib said by clubbing the latter into three units, the Council had used an age-old trick to sideline a particular topic.

While the Delhi Sultanate had been classified as `The Rise of Ghaznavis', the Mughal period had been ``perfunctorily'' mentioned under the rubric `The Political Conditions'.

Not only had the Mughal rule been summarised - ``with no mention of the political unification brought about by them'' - this particular unit, according to the historians, included a host of dynasties, most of which had ceased to exist before the disintegration of the Delhi Sultanate. Also, the idea of ``resistance'' had been introduced whenever the subject of study pertains to Muslim rule.

As for the varna system - a reference to which had been deleted from one of the existing textbooks - there was no mention of it before 300 B.C. in the Class XI syllabus for Ancient India. ``The only reference to caste comes under the rubric `Social Life as Reflected in Contemporary Literature from 200 B.C. to 300 A.D'.''

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