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Rewriting history: Madhya Pradesh textbooks claim India won 1962 war with China

Priyata Brajabasi | Updated on: 11 August 2017, 16:06 IST
(Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis/Getty Images)

What is being taught in school curricula has been in a constant flux ever since the BJP government came to power in the Centre and many states.

After Rajasthan schools introduced books claiming that Maharana Pratap won the 1567 Battle of Haldighati against Mughal emperor Akbar, it is now Madhya Pradesh's turn to alter history and bend it to a narrative favoured by the ruling party.

Altering the past

According to a report in Times of India, a Sanskrit textbook taught in several CBSE-affiliated schools in Class VIII says that India won the war against China in 1962.

This bit of misinformation appears in the eighth chapter, titled 'Shri Jawaharlal Nehru'. According to the report, the book reads, "What famously came to be known as Sino-India war of 1962 was won by India against China. During Jawaharlal Nehru's tenure as Prime Minister, China waged war against India in the year 1962. With efforts of Nehru, India defeated China."

What stands as true in recorded history, it must be noted, is that the 1962 India-China war was a decisive victory for China. Even Indian leaders have time and again acknowledged the defeat, and spoken of the lessons learnt form going to war. In fact, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley spoke of the lessons learnt forms the war in Rajya Sabha just three days ago on 7 August.

It isn't just misinformation that being taught to the next generation. Omissions have also become the norm - it was recently reported that the Maharashtra State Education Board has completely cut out sections about the Mughals and India's Muslim rulers from its middle schools textbooks. Monuments built by these rulers also do not find any mention.

The focus, instead, is on the Maratha empire built by Shivaji.

In Rajasthan, besides teaching students that it was Maharana Pratap who won the Battle of Haldighati, even the suffix "the Great" has been removed from Akbar's name.

Another book part of the curriculum for MA History students at Rajasthan University titled Rashtra Ratna Maharana Pratap claims the same.

Many other states like Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh have included RSS ideologues like Deendayal Upadhayay, MS Golwalkar and VD Savarkar and their ideologies as a part of their school and graduation curriculum, while sections teaching students about Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi have been significantly reduced.

In fact, Rajasthan University has even included excerpts from the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, the Vedas, in addition to concepts by thinkers like Kautilya, Swami Vivekananda as part of its commerce and business administration courses.

A dangerous path

"We don’t realise now the kind of affect these changes will have on the minds of our future generations. Their knowledge of history will be very different to the one that we know to be true. Their mindsets will change because the kind of education they are and will receive is one that is jingoistic and hyper-nationalist. It is very dangerous," says a senior history faculty member at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

“The government in the Centre is clearly instructing its ruling parties in the states to make amendments in the school and graduation curriculum. We don’t understand the scale at which this is happening around the country. In states like Tripura, the state government has eliminated parts of Indian history from Class IX history textbooks. Most of these changes aren’t even reported. And even if they are, the state governments aren’t undoing any of it,” the faculty member added.

First published: 11 August 2017, 16:06 IST
Priyata Brajabasi @PriyataB

Priyata thinks in words and delivers in pictures. The marriage of the two, she believes, is of utmost importance. Priyata joined the Catch team after working at Barcroft Media as a picture desk editor. Prior to that she was on the Output Desk of NDTV 24X7. At work Priyata is all about the news. Outside of it, she can't stay far enough. She immerses herself in stories through films, books and television shows. Oh, and she can eat. Like really.