The National Council on Educational Research and Training (NCERT), in its latest revision of textbooks, has decided to drop key passages pertaining to Indian history. These include information on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and his assassin Nathuram Godse, references to extremist religious groups, discussions on gender and caste, and information regarding the Gujrat riots of 2002, among many others.
According to the Indian Express, the above deletions did not figure in the ‘list of rationalized content’ that was officially released by NCERT in June last year.
NCERT’s decision has been severely condemned by opposing parties who have accused the BJP of whitewashing history that inconveniences the current ruling party.
Moreover, these decisions were made quietly without the consultation of the individuals who were involved in the making of the textbook in the first place. Over 250 historians from various educational institutions have issued a statement against the deletions, stating that they are “appalled by the decision of the NCERT to remove chapters and statements from the history textbooks and demand that the deletions from the textbooks be immediately withdrawn. The decision of the NCERT is guided by divisive motives. It is a decision that goes against the constitutional ethos and composite culture of the Indian subcontinent. As such, it must be rescinded at the earliest,”
Oppositions to the decision have also questioned the institution’s motives to be ‘non-academic’ and instead motivated by propaganda. The decision to erase any mention of the role of Hindu extremists in Gandhi’s killing is an excellent example to show the way that whatever does not fit into the pseudo-historical schema of the ruling dispensation is not fit to be taught to students.
When the NCERT was asked about the discontent that the deletions have caused, director DS Saklani insisted that “there is nothing new in the changes this time;” the textbooks were revised the same way as they have been done every time
The deletions have become causes of growing worry for historians and scholars who believe that this would not only perpetuate misconceptions but would also lead to a distorted understanding of Indian history and culture. These deletions would do nothing but serve to further divide the communal and casteist agenda of the ruling elites.
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