Historians Criticize NCERT's Alterations In Class 12 Textbook

Historians Criticize NCERT's Alterations In Class 12 Textbook

After the NCERT introduced several changes to the class 12 Political Science textbook, some historians criticised the move.

Krisha V BhattUpdated: Saturday, April 13, 2024, 01:40 PM IST
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The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has introduced several changes to the class 12 Political Science syllabus textbook for the upcoming academic year. In the “Contemporary World Politics” chapter, the reference to India's border situation with China has been updated to reflect recent developments. 

Additionally, the textbook now refers to "Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir" instead of "Azad Pakistan". References to Khalistan have also been removed, and the removal of Article 370 is now mentioned in the updated textbooks.

Some of the historians The Free Press Journal (FPJ) spoke to, have criticised these moves.

Pune-based Shraddha Kumbhojkar, a historian specialising in ancient and modern Indian history, European intellectual history, and historiography, raises concerns about the impact of these alterations on the quality of history education. 

“Changes have been made in the textbooks quite a few times, the people in power make changes according to their agendas. Earlier, the facts were not tampered with, tweaked or rewritten,” Kumbhojkar said.

Echoing similar concerns, Aditya Mukherjee, a historian based in Delhi specialising in contemporary Indian history criticised the recent changes to NCERT textbooks. 

Mukherjee recalled past attempts by the government to ban the NCERT history textbooks in 1997.

“The government wanted to ban those books. But because they were scientific and secular books, and there was a national protest, they had to back out,” Mukherjee told the FPJ.

Mukherjee further notes similar efforts between 1999 and 2004 to modify textbooks by the government, adding, “They tried to bring in a large number of deletions, Everybody protested. But, instead of doing the deletions, they actually removed those books.”

He said that the revised textbooks introduced during this period were heavily criticised as "third-rate communal books" by the Indian History Congress. 

Mukherjee also highlights the deletion of references to events like the Gujarat riots and the context of Mahatma Gandhi’s murder, stating, “They have removed references to the Gujarat riots. They removed the whole context of Gandhiji's murder. Who killed him? What was his political belief? Why was Gandhi murdered? All that has been removed.”

Mukherjee further expressed concern over the removal of significant portions of Mughal history and how these changes can communalise the young minds.

“The history textbooks are used to spread communal ideology, especially among children. School textbooks are the best way to communalise the minds of young people,” Mukherjee alleged.

Arvind Ganacharya, a Mumbai-based historian and former HOD of Mumbai University’s history department, shared his perspective, suggesting that changes to historical narratives should be cautiously approached. He argues that history should ideally be written with the benefit of hindsight, and alterations should not be made recklessly. 

“These changes are made a little early, history should always be written after at least 20 years of the things happening. I have visited Punjab quite a few times, the people there have forgotten about Khalistan and moved on, we should not unnecessarily poke the matters that have died down,” Ganacharya told the FPJ.

Ganacharya also emphasised the importance of respecting the evolving perspectives and sensitivities of different regions and communities

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