Kolkata: Eminent scholars on Sunday voiced dismay over changes being wrought in the presentation of modern Indian history and said this went against the "inclusiveness" that was part of India's tradition.
The academics were speaking at a discussion 'Unpartitioned India: The Muslims for a United India, Unvisited Histories'' organised by Hashim Abdul Halim Foundation, an organisation named after the late West Bengal Assembly Speaker and Leftist ideologue known for his grasp of the Indian constitution and law.
Eminent political scientist from the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata, Prof Maidul Islam lamented that "instead of moving forward we are going backwards" pointing to the omission of references to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the Congress President who along with Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel and Mahatma Gandhi negotiated India's freedom from the British, from the new NCERT syllabus.
"We are now seeing Azad deleted from syllabus, a person of stature not seen in 100 years ... He has been deleted from the new syllabus. You can delete but some people will remain forever etched in the psyche of the nation," he said. Tracing the tumultuous days preceding the Independence and afterwards, he said as envisaged in the 1947 contract which was later ratified on November 26, 1949, the guiding principles of Indian Constitution which came into being from January 26, 1950, guarantees the rights of those who did not leave and chose to stay on in the country, "who had said they don't want to leave for anywhere else."
Former Professor of Political Science, Delhi University, Prof Shamsul Islam claimed it looked like "only some 'khas lok' (privileged people) are entitled to live here, which is not the India we all know." Islam recalled how there was no communal divide between soldiers who participated in the country's first war of independence in 1857 when Hindu and Muslim sepoys revolted together against British rule in support of the then emperor who was incidentally a Muslim.
"There was no Hindu, Muslim fight in those days. Words like communalism and secularism were unheard of. All these terminology came into being in the late 19th-20th century," the veteran academic said. "There was no concept like religious nationalism in South Asia in those days," he said. Eminent historian Prof Bhaskar Chakraborty of Calcutta University pointed out that every year during Durga puja, "borders cease to exist in Taki, Basirhat stretches along Bangladesh border as people from both sides join together in boats to participate in the revelry. These are families who live on both sides of river Ichamati which separates the two countries." He said in "many sense the border" does not exist for these people conjoined by ethnicity and geographical nearness.
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