‘No need to teach Mughal history. They were looters’: UP Dy CM Dinesh Sharma
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, who also also holds the education portfolio, feels that over three hundred year long Mughal history need not be taught in history books. According to a report in Asian Age, the minister said, “Mughal emperors were not our ancestors but were looters. We will change the syllabus accordingly so that our children do not learn untruths”.
When Catch contacted Sharma, his office confirmed that the Uttar Pradesh government does in fact plan to omit sections of the history curriculum, including Mughal history.
An official in the state education ministry who didn’t want to be named, told Catch, “Bahadur Shah Zafar supported the first uprising against the British in 1857. Other Mughal rulers were known to be looters and plunderers and we cannot let students learn that they were great. We shouldn’t be eulogising them. That is what the minister means”.
The education minister was quoted making the statement, “Bahadur Shah Zafar had supported Mangal Pandey, the hero of India’s first war of independence. He is the Mughal ruler that students should learn about. He was a good ruler.”
Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last ruler of the Mughal dynasty. He was appointed the titular head of the revolt of 1857 that is hailed as the first war of India’s independence.
The minister clarified that this wasn’t a communal issue. He added, “We honour all religions. Apart from worshipping gods and goddesses, I also visit mazaars, gurudwaras and churches. But we cannot allow our children to read distorted history and, therefore, changes were needed.”
Sharma further said, “A culture where a son kills his father for the throne or cuts off the hands of craftsmen who built Taj Mahal cannot be a part of our culture. However, we honor people like Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the man behind India’s nuclear tests.”
However, many in the state have accused the government of pushing a communal agenda and saffronising education in the state.
Senior Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh PL Punia accused the BJP government in the state of trying to communalise the education system by promoting the RSS ideology. “This is a very wrong move. There are many aspects of Indian history that one may not like, but how can one change or try to erase history? The students have to be taught the history of this country fairly. Dinesh Sharma said that they don’t want to teach student ‘untruths’ but by not teaching students a large portion of history, they are in fact teaching untruths. The Mughals, like it or not, do have a significant part to play in India’s culture. The minister cannot make such irresponsible statements”.
Punia added, “All across the country, the BJP-RSS government is selectively trying to modify the curriculum by highlighting RSS ideologues or personalities who have little significance in our history, in place of brave freedom fighters. They pay respects to the man who murdered the father of our nation. For instance, if they had their way, they would completely wipe out the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru from our history. Changes such as these are happening slowly but steadily all across the states. It is very dangerous.”
Samajwadi Party spokesperson Udayveer Singh believes that moves like these from the government are nothing but a diversion to take focus off real issues. “We all know that the current governments in the state and the Centre are highly communal. They are making these communal changes in all aspects of civil society, to divert attention from the actual issues in which they have failed. The economy is at its worst, inflation is high, they promised farmer waivers, infrastructure but have been able to achieve nothing. While we protest about curriculum changes in schools and colleges and growing communalism and hyper-nationalism in the country, other government failures get sidelined.”