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Hindu zealots altering history: scholars
By Deepshikha Ghosh, New Delhi
|Did the human race originate in India?
Did the Indians teach Egyptians the art of building pyramids? Is the Taj
Mahal a Hindu monument?
Versions of history like these, with their dangerous emphasis on Hindu
nationalism, could soon worm their way into Indian schoolbooks, warned
leading Indian scholars who gathered for a three-day conference in Delhi
to discuss these issues.
Historian K N Panikkar said: "The communal history being propagated
by the government is a concerted effort to create an alternate social
consciousness of the past and historically establish a Hindu nation."
The intellectuals decried the ongoing review of course content by the
National Council of Educational Research and Training, which is funded by
They felt the review would introduce ideas and interpretations explicitly
inclined towards Hindu fundamentalist beliefs under the aegis of the
Bharatiya Janata Party, which leads the coalition government at the
They resolved to wage a counter-revolution against what they termed an
"assault on rational discourse" and "return to intellectual
backwardness and fundamentalism".
Panikkar said attempts to create a sense of "belonging" to
India, as proposed by NCERT's curriculum paper, were aimed at creating a
Hindu national identity, and could have serious long term social and
He felt NCERT's value education scheme had explicit political connotations
and was a socially divisive attempt. "It will foster a generation
that will be incapable of critically examining the problems of the society
and will be inclined towards the kind of mass conformism that breeds
Former chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research Irfan Habib
likened the attempts to distort history to Nazism.
He said: "The Sangh Parivar is trying to totally misread the entire
past of the Indian civilization and culture in the name of patriotism, and
their mindset is being imposed on our education system."
"They even say we taught the Egyptians to build the pyramids and that
the Vedas are the oldest scriptures that date back to 8000 BC."
The ICHR has in recent times sanctioned Rs 1.5 million to an archaeologist
to chart the course of the dried up ancient river Saraswati establishing
the "true origin of the Aryan race that went from India" and
another Rs 160,000 to prove that Dravidian languages had no independent
Indian roots, he said.
According to him, it was similar to how Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and his
deputies spent exorbitant sums of money on research to establish that
German blood was racially superior.
"By selectively obscuring facts, Hindu ideologues are depriving India
of its heritage of great rulers and scientists who made genuine
Habib expressed worry about the BJP government justifying the destruction
of mosques through NCERT textbooks that highlighted how Muslims destroyed
Attempts to establish Hindu origins of world-renowned monuments like the
Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri were also criticized by the gathering.
"The freedom of people is under threat, and all of us must start a
counter-revolution," proposed Prabhat Patnaik, professor of economics
at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. q