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History congress votes against NCERT deletions

Bhopal: The 62nd Indian History Congress on 30 December adopted a resolution against the decision of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to delete certain passages in school history textbooks which were distasteful to the present dispensation.

Addressing a joint press conference on the concluding day of the congress, IHC general president TI Mahadevan and vice-president Irfan Habib, said this was not only ethically incorrect, but also ultra vires of the Constitution. 

"No government should do it". They appealed to both CBSE and non- CBSE private schools to ignore the NCERT diktat. 

The NCERT move, said Habib, was reminiscent of the situation prevailing in 1828 when Henry Derozio was asked to leave the classroom because he was in the habit of conducting open discussions with his students on a variety of subjects. 

Another resolution adopted, Habib informed, appealed to the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) to release for printing the volumes of the 'Freedom Project'. Their publication had been held up because supporters of the present government were of the view that their viewpoint had not been properly represented by the historians who had authored the works. 

Habib suggested that the ICHR could arrange to publish separate documents should they have the capability. Two other resolutions concerned opposition to the AP government's move to abolish teaching of history in intermediate schools and the reinstatement of the Kerala Council of Historical Research, which had affected funding and grants for research work.

Asked if the IHC was indeed dominated by Marxists, Habib said though he had no hesitation in admitting his leftist credentials, the fact remained that even a renowned historian like R C Mazumdar was a Marxist in the eyes of Union Minister M.M. Joshi merely because he too had written that the Indus Valley civilisation was not older than BC 1500. "So if Mazumdar was Marxist, I'm in good company". 

Questioned if Dalit history had got the attention it deserved at the congress, Habib said the role of Dalits could not be truncated from general history. Of the 250 research papers presented in the modern section, five were exclusively on Dalit-related issues. 

But subjects like the role of women or Dalits necessarily constituted a sub-theme under a broader canvas. Giving them an independent slot was neither feasible nor regular.

On the multiple interpretation of history, Habib said a distinction would have to be drawn between incontrovertible facts like India getting its independence in 1947 and others like whether the Aryans were an indigenous tribe or a bunch of outsiders. 

Even the issue whether the Saraswati was a major river in ancient times or a nala as available evidence would indicate could be a subject of debate. But all contentions should be based on the authority of evidence and scientific investigation, he said (TOI).

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