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Censoring history Sangh-style
By S Ubaidur Rahman
|New Delhi: The latest directive of the National Council of Educational Research and Training to all Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) affiliated schools to delete numerous pages from history books being taught in these schools is the latest step of the saffron government to delete any ‘objectionable’ remarks regarding the upper castes particularly the Brahmins. It is an indication of increasing belligerence of saffron outfits in their endeavor to change the history that suits their plans of things. Earlier such moves were always shrouded in secrecy to keep away any controversy.
The move that incidentally came while the Parliament was in session seems to have given serious headache to the ruling coalition and the prime minister’s assertion that we should change history if it is one-sided seems to have gone unnoticed. The prime minister not only went out of his way to defend the saffronization of education but also said that the party was prepared for full-scale debate on the issue.
The BJP has identified portions from history books that it perceives have potential to offend upper castes particularly Brahmins. The books that have been identified and targeted by the Sangh parivar dominated NCERT are Romila Thapar’s Ancient India (class V1), RS Sharma’s Ancient India (class X1) Satish Chandra’s Medieval India (class X1) and Arjun Dev and Indra Arjun Dev’s Modern India (class V11). Schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education have been directed not to teach the objectionable paragraphs. The schools have been asked to drop with immediate effect ‘objectionable’ portions allegedly identified by known faces of the RSS’s education wing.
The latest move seems to have enraged historians, academics and politicians. All political parties have targeted the government for tampering with the history books. Historians have called the move a fraud with the past. Romila Thapar, a prominent historian whose one book also faced the ire of the saffronites told this correspondent that it is extremely dangerous that they should send directives to schools for deleting some portions that are objectionable to them. She said that she was neither consulted before nor even informed after the directive was sent to schools. Thapar added that if there was any objectionable material in the book, the agency had to take her permission prior to making any changes. She added that this government has a certain perception and wants to interpret the history in its own way. Eduardu Fleiro, a renowned laureate and senior Congress leader told this correspondent that the BJP and the RSS were bent on communalising education. He added that such things can happen only in a regime that has no regards for anything. Fleiro accused the government of violating the copyrights agreement by unilaterally deleting portions from books written by prominent historians.
But it is certainly not the first time when such efforts have been made. As soon as the BJP government came to power and Acharya Joshi was assigned the charge of the Human Resources Development Ministry, apprehensions have been rife over the mishandling of the important portfolio that Joshi looks after. From day one, what seems to be on the mind of the senior Sangh leader, is not to focus on the spread of literacy in the country, but spread of Hindutva or their sort of ideology. So the Human Resources Development ministry has been turned into Hindutva Revival Department by the Acharyaji who is well aware of the importance of what he has at his disposal-Joshi had been a reader in the University of Allahabad, his Parliamentary constituency. The agenda has been called hidden so many times in the past that it seems just another tool of fooling around the people by calling it ‘hidden’.
The first thing the HRD minister tried to do was his efforts to change the history of last one thousand years in the country. The Sangh Parivar has always set its eyes on changing the secular history of the country with their own version. It is very strange to see as to why the Sangh attaches so much importance to having its own version of history in place. This is not a new aspect of the Sangh Parivar. Even in 1977 when the Jan Sangh was a part of the Janata Party government at the centre, it asked the government to withdraw the history books published by the NCERT on the ground that they were not sufficiently Hindu in their orientation.
In more recent times the BJP governments in states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, where it started revision of text books in a big way introducing a communal view of the past, highlighting the achievements and contributions of the Hindus and undermining and misrepresenting the role played by others. As if it was not enough, the BJP government at the centre made an all-out effort to saffronize the well respected research institutes like Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) and several other leading research institutes including Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS). KN Panikkar a respected and front-line expert on the history told this correspondent recently that ‘the Sangh Parivar has been engaged in the construction and dissemination of mythified histories which would help further its religious politics. According to him, ‘in these histories the desecration and demolition of temples by the medieval Muslim rulers form a central theme, substantiating the much hyped religious fanaticism of Muslims and their rulers.
It is not the only thing. It has deployed the Archaeological Survey of India to show any historical monument a contribution of pre Muslim era and not that of Muslims.
Association for the Study of History and Archaeology recently blamed the Archeological Survey of India for promoting the narrow and parochial world view of the Sangh Parivar. The group of eminent historians said it was high time the ASI was saved from the clutches of the RSS and be restructured into an autonomous institution, answerable to Parliament.
"We used to be proud of the ASI but now many of its findings are suspect. The international archaeology is blanking India out from its forums. The ASI has increasingly begun adopting a narrow and parochial approach to archaeology," the group of historians said.
Giving an example of saffronization of the ASI, they gave example of excavation of Anup Talao at the famous Fatehpur Sikri that was undertaken for which no rationale was given. "The findings were so announced as to give the impression that the Jain images discovered were destroyed by Muslim rulers like Akbar and Aurangzeb," the historians said. They also demanded that the ASI be taken from the clutches of the ministry of culture and declared an autonomous institution, headed by an archaeologist of impeccable credentials.
The Archeological Survey of India, it is reported, has started an ambitious plan. Under the influence of Sangh Parivar, it is trying to locate Hindu temple under virtually every monument constructed by Muslim rulers over the last one thousand years. It is not only causing havoc among the historians but also destroying monuments of great historical value. Great damage has already been done and if not stopped it will deprive the country of precious little left untouched.
These attempts are also backed by well oiled efforts to fill all the government backed think-tanks with Sangh faces. This fact was amply exposed when the chairman of Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) Prof. Sodhi alleged that there was an organized effort to pre-decide issues. The chairman and 26 members of the ICSSR governing council are nominated by the government. Prof. Sodhi, a Rhodes scholar and a former MP from Delhi has sought the intervention of Prime Minister AB Vajpayee ‘to foil the insidious design of some members of the council whose success in their endeavor would spell disaster for our premier social science research body’. The chairman of the Council has said that ‘This is not the time for saffronization, that would be harmful...We need to incorporate information technology and social consequences of emerging technologies.’
The chairman also sought the dismissal of several Sangh backed members of the Council, who he alleged were ‘attempting not only to disrupt the scholarly activities being conducted by the ICSSR but also to radically change the course and force it to intellectual obscurantism.
Read Also: Some examples of history which disturb Sangh
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