Decision To Change NCERT History Textbooks ‘Political’, Not ‘Academic’: Indian History Congress

NCERT history textbooks being changed for ‘political reasons’, Indian History Congress (IHC) has said.

New Delhi:

Indian History Congress (IHC) has objected to rewriting the history textbooks in the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) school textbooks saying that it is not being done for ‘academic’ reasons, instead, the changes are being made for ‘political reasons’. “The critique of the existing textbooks implicit in the ‘Reforms’ being contemplated is not emerging from any expert body of nationally and internationally recognised historians but from a political position favoured by non-academic votaries of prejudice,” the IHC, the largest body of professional historians in the country, said in a letter dated July 14.

In July, the Rajya Sabha secretariat released a notice saying that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on education would discuss changes in the NCERT’s textbooks and curriculum and consider ‘reforms’, with a focus on removing references to “un-historical facts and distortions about national heroes; ensuring equal or proportionate references to all periods of Indian history and highlight the role of great historic women heroes…”

The notice issued by the committee invited responses from various stakeholders across the country.

“The Indian History Congress is much disturbed at the misinformation and biased view that is being projected in the name of bringing reforms in the existing NCERT textbooks,” the letter read.

IHC fears a ‘distortion’ because the “School textbooks written for the NCERT by some of the tallest scholars in the country Romila Thapar, RS Sharma, Satish Chandra and Bipan Chandra were removed, and in their places, books with a clear sectarian, majoritarian bias were introduced in 2002,” the letter said adding that after widespread public criticism, the books had to be withdrawn a year later.

The current textbooks were first introduced from 2006 onwards. The claim that there are “un- historical facts and distortions” with regard to national heroes is completely false. In fact, even though in the premodern period the modern concept of the nation or ‘national’ cannot be found, several iconic figures dot the pages of almost every chapter.

The IHC has said that the reasons cited by the committee for the proposed change are unfounded.

“The claim that there are ‘unhistorical facts and distortions’ with regard to national heroes is completely false,” the letter said.

“Further, the claim regarding lack of equal space accorded to various periods of Indian history is not borne out by the books currently in use by the NCERT,” it added.

IHC has presented evidence in its letter and said that the “Current NCERT textbooks cannot be critiqued for ignoring important heroic figures in Indian history, whether women or men. Further, these books aim at inculcating scientific temper in young minds.”