The ruling establishment’s view that Indian history glorifies invaders and Mughals at the expense of others has now found a strong resonance where it perhaps matters most – school textbooks.
The content of Islamic rulers has faced drastic cuts in the sweeping changes made to textbooks by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) as part of its latest “rationalisation” exercise, internal records show.
Indian Express Scrutinized nine existing History Textbooks for Classes 6 to 12 and matched the material with the tables circulated within NCERT on proposed changes.
It was found that most of the changes relating to Muslim rulers are made in a textbook: several pages of the Delhi Sultanate, ruled by several dynasties including the Mamluks, Tughluqs, Khiljis and Lodis, and the Mughal Empire dropped from Class 7. History Textbook ‘Our Past – II’.
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The official rationale given by NCERT – the government body that decides on syllabus and textbooks – for the latest textbook revision exercise is to reduce the curriculum load to help students “make a faster recovery” from the learning shock during the pandemic .
“Distortion” and “misrepresentation” of India’s past have been common among ruling members BJP, As recently as June 10, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in the release of a book, said that the country’s history has been prominently presented to the Mughals at the expense of empires such as the Pandyas, Cholas, Mauryas, Guptas and Ahoms, and now “No one can stop us from rewriting it.”
Some of the important changes made by NCERT on Islamic and Mughal-era rulers are as follows:
In the Class 7 textbook Our Past-II, three pages relating to the expansion of the Delhi Sultanate, especially in the south, have been omitted.
The removed portion also contained a section explaining a mosque: “A mosque is called a mosque in Arabic, literally a place where a Muslim prostrates with reverence to Allah. In a ‘Sabha Masjid’ (Masjid-e-Jami or Jama Masjid) Muslims offer their prayers (namaz) together. The members of the congregation choose the most respected, learned man as their leader (imam) for the rituals of prayer. He also gives sermons (khutba) during Friday prayers. During Namaz, Muslims stand facing towards Mecca. In India it is towards the west. It’s called Qibla.”
In addition, a detailed chart comparing Alauddin Khilji’s response to repeated Mongol attacks with that of Muhammad Tughlaq is also omitted.
There has also been a cut in the Class 7 textbook chapter ‘Mughal Empire’, which contains a two-page table detailing the achievements and achievements of Mughal emperors such as Humayun, Shah Jahan, Babur, Akbar, Jahangir and Aurangzeb.
In Class 12 History textbook, the chapter ‘Kings and Chronicles: The Mughal Courts’ (Subject in Indian History – Part II) has been omitted. This chapter chronicles the history of the Mughals through Mughal-era manuscripts such as the Akbarnama and Badshahnama, and through scenes from wars, hunting expeditions, building constructions and courts.
key table changed
In an earlier table on the changes, which was posted on the NCERT website and downloaded by The Indian Express, a section on Mahmud of Ghazni, a section on “Akbar’s policies” and the entire material on independent political states dealt with There were further amendments. The old Mughal provinces have been carved out – all in the seventh grade history textbook ‘Hamara Peetee – II’.
This table was replaced last week by another table that does not reflect these three deletions and changes. The changes listed in the previous table were:
The second chapter is amended to refer to Mahmud Ghazni of Afghanistan, who invaded the subcontinent and raided the Somnath temple. First, the title “Sultan” has been removed from his name. Second, the sentence “he raided the subcontinent almost every year” was modified to mean “he raided the subcontinent 17 times (1000–1025 CE) for a religious purpose”.
In addition, a paragraph has been cut out on Mahmud’s interest in getting to know the people over whom he had better conquered. The deleted passage read: “Sultan Mahmud was also interested in knowing more about the people he conquered and assigned a scholar named al-Biruni to write an account of the subcontinent. Kitab ul-Hind This Arabic work, known as A.D., remains an important source for historians, who consulted Sanskrit scholars to prepare this article.
The name of the chapter ‘Mughal Empire’ has been changed to ‘Mughal (16th to 17th century)’. A section on “Akbar’s policies”, including the broad features of his administration, his interest in the religion and social customs of various peoples and how he began translating Sanskrit works into Persian, has been omitted.
The title of the chapter ‘The Delhi Sultans’ has been changed to ‘Delhi: 12th to 15th Centuries’.
The NCERT has scoured the entire five-page material on the independent political states of Oudh, Bengal and Hyderabad, which were formed from the old Mughal provinces from the chapter ‘Eighteenth-Century Political Structure’. The contents of the kingdoms controlled by the Rajputs, Marathas, Sikhs and Jats have been retained.
Speaking to The Indian Express on the latest rationalization move, NCERT Director Dinesh Saklani said: “First of all, this is not a selective exercise. We have tried to reduce the curriculum load for students of all subjects, not only social sciences. We have done the same for math and science. Apart from this the exercise was done in a very professional manner with the help of outside experts. Experts say that NCERT does not intervene. They felt that some of the material could be omitted because it is covered elsewhere in other textbooks.”
Saklani said that “there is also a need to be mindful of the problems that the students faced during Covid”. “Not only was there a loss of learning, but they also lost a lot of time. It would have been very unfair on our part not to help them with the course burden,” he said.
Asked about the discrepancy between the two tables of change in a class VII history textbook, he said: “Usually, there are several drafts. I don’t know if someone uploaded an incomplete draft by mistake or something. As far as NCERT is concerned, there is only one table (one for each textbook) and that is now available on the website. Please just consider that.”
Among other deletions are:
n Students will no longer need to go through the ‘Rulers and Buildings’ chapter of the Class 7 history textbook. It focuses on the architectural style of temples built by Hindu kings and mosques, tombs and forts built by Muslim rulers.
n In class 11 history, the chapter ‘The Central Islamic Lands’ has been dropped. It deals with the rise of Islam and its expansion over a vast area stretching from Egypt to Afghanistan, which was the core of Islamic civilization from AD 600 to AD 1200.