Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A conspiracy to distort history and de-nationalise students

By Himanshu Shekhar Jha

According to NCERT historians the temples were destroyed not by Muslim rulers, but by the Hindu kings themselves when they waged war with one another. Can any historical account be more untrue and anti-national?

Education at the school stage in India today suffers from a number of ills which are difficult to detail within the compass of a few words. Each evil needs to be addressed separately and elaborately. One of such evil is the anti-Hindu, and therefore, the anti-national educational policy of the Government.

Though the word “National” has been used both in the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005 and in the National Policy on Education (1986), if anything makes its absence conspicuous in the various textbooks published by the NCERT, it is love for the motherland and pride in her glorious past.

That the NCERT text books are anti-national is abundantly clear from the introductory note for teachers given in the book of social science called Social and Political Life II prescribed for class VII. The aforesaid note says:

SPL (Social and Political Life) functions by the pedagogic principle that the children learn best through an experimental understanding of concepts. This poses a contradiction when the effort is to write a “National” textbook, because a national text can neither sufficiently represent all the various aspects of the various locals, nor fix the sociological background of the child for whom the book is intended.”

If by the word “Locals” used above is meant children belonging to the minority community, that cannot be the ground for framing an anti-national educational policy which admittedly the NCF 2005 and NPOE 1986 diligently seek to do. If India is a democratic republic as the preamble to the Constitution solemnly declares, the interests of the children belonging to the majority community cannot be justifiably jeopardised on any ground whatsoever.

The anti-national features of the NCERT textbooks particularly those related to history and social studies are too glaring to be overlooked. Take, for example, a textbook in history for class VII. This book begins with the photograph of a Muslim cartographer from Arab and ends with that of another Muslim holding a scroll in his hand. The photograph of the Arab cartographer is carried again in much larger form covering almost half of a page. On the very next page appear pictures of Persian and Arabic handwritings and different varieties of their style called nastaliq and shikaste. While these photographs and pictures may have some significance for a book of cartography and art, they are not at all relevant for a book of history whether of India or any other country in the world. In any event, these totally irrelevant photographs and pictures are not going to give anyone knowledge about medieval India which the writer of a book of history is expected to impart.

The NCERT’s above textbooks of history abounds in the pictures of Muslim rulers such as Babar, Humayun, Akbar, Aurangzeb and others, but has no space to carry the portraits of Maharana Pratap, Chatrapati Shivaji and other illustrious historical personages of our sacred Motherland. What inspiration will our children, whether Hindus or Muslim, draw from the portrait of cruel Nadir Shah who had invaded our country, looted gold coins and jewels worth crores of rupees and perpetrated unspeakable atrocities on the people?

In the chapter on “The Mughal Empire” it has been written “Quite in contrast to their predecessors, the Mughals created an empire and accomplished what has hitherto seemed possible for only short periods of time. From the latter half of the sixteenth century they expanded their kingdom from Agra and Delhi until in the seventeenth century they controlled nearly all the subcontinent. They imposed structures of administration and ideas of governance that outlasted their rule leaving a political legacy that succeeding rulers of the subcontinent could not ignore.”

Does the aforementioned political legacy not include forcible conversion of millions of Hindus, destruction of their places of worship in large number and other abominable acts of cruelty and callousness? Does such political legacy deserve to be retained in future as the NCERT historians seems to suggest?

In the subsequent chapter while answering “Why were temples destroyed” an extremely vague and misleading statement has been given in the following words—“Because kings built temples to demonstrate their devotion to God and their power and wealth, it is not surprising that when they attacked one another’s kingdoms, they often targeted these buildings.”

Thus according to NCERT historians the temples were destroyed not by Muslim rulers, but by the Hindu kings themselves when they waged war with one another. Can any historical account be more untrue and anti-national?

The utter falsity of the above statement is evident from the illustration given in the text itself. The account of the Buddhist monk and chronicler Dhammakiti given in the textbook does not show that any Hindu temple had ever been destroyed by a Hindu king. It discloses that only valuables including the statue of Lord Buddha made entirely of gold and other golden images kept in various monasteries had been removed.

Even the subsequent citation related to Chola Kingdom does not lead to the inference that the temples were destroyed by the Hindu kings themselves.

The NCERT is not only all set to oppose nationalism as is evident from the introductory note to teachers already referred to in the foregoing paragraphs, but is also brazenly against patriotism. In the textbook Political Theory prescribed for class XI we come across an excerpt in which Rabindranath Tagore has wrongly and disparagingly spoken against patriotism. The poet might have his own reasons for expressing such views but the NCERT was not under any compulsion to include such anti-national views in a textbook which is prescribed for immature school going children who might certainly be misled by them.

In order to bring its anti-national and anti-patriotic educational policy in limelight the NCERT has super-scribed the caption Tagore’s critique of nationalism above the poet’s impugned quote which can be seen at page 108 of the book Political Theory for Class XI.

Tagore says, “Patriotism cannot be our final spiritual shelter; my refuge is humanity. I will not buy glass for the price of diamonds and I will never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity as long as I am live.”

Is there any hostility between patriotism and humanity? Should children at schools be taught not to be loyal to their Motherland by following the lofty ideals of patriotism? Should they not be told that true patriotism can never be opposed to humanity?

A man who cannot love and serve his own mother can never love and serve mankind. There is no conflict between patriotism and humanity and the question of the one triumphing over the other does not arise as the words “I will never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity” used by Tagore suggest. It is unethical to compare patriotism with ordinary glass and humanity with costly diamonds. Both are equally important.

In the textbook of history for class XII one of the most important and also most neglected subjects—national language has been discussed under the sub-heading “The Language of the Nation”.

Instead of teaching the students to have love and respect for Hindi which alone is fit to be the national language on India the NCERT had given the following excerpt in its book on Social Science from Gandhi's thought under the sub-heading “What should the qualities of a national language be?” which, inter alia, reads as follows:

“To confine oneself to Hindi or Urdu would be a crime against intelligence and patriotism.” (Harijan Sevak, October 12, 1947). How love for one’s own national language which is spoken by the majority of the people including both Hindus and Muslims, be a crime against patriotism?

There is no language in the world like Hindustani. How could a non-existent language become the national language of India?

There is no doubt that NCERT’s textbooks are creating misleading and anti-national feelings among students. A book of history particularly that which is taught in schools must embody moral lessons for the building of the character of students. This can not be done by the NCERT or any other institution run by the Government if its policy is anti-national.

(The writer can be contacted at A-207, Kalyani Apartments, Sector-06, Vasundhara, Ghaziabad (UP))

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