“God cannot alter the past, though historians can.”
– Samuel Butler
Democracy is truly at stake now that history is being rewritten with a new approach. Recently, the Madhya Pradesh government made a ‘necessary amendment’ in history textbooks for 12th std students. According to sources, chapters about King Akbar and other Mughal emperors were deleted, replacing them by information about Shivaji.
State Education Minister Noratthem Mishra supported the move, saying that the deleted chapters were unimportant and did not conform to national ambitions. As such, these ‘corrections’ in the history textbooks were essential. Nobody is fooled as to the direct implication of his statement: that to represent Akbar and other Mughal emperors as national heroes or great personalities is wrong and against current ‘national sentiments’.
The above mentioned amendments have been made on the recommendations of the curriculum review committee, set up by the state government to review school textbooks. The review committee holds an even more dangerous hardliner view: neither Akbar nor any of other Mughal emperors can be described as ideal rulers as they were all ‘outsiders’.
Displaying the appalling bias prevailing in the committee, Bhagenath Kumawat, one of the members, stated: “It is a historical fact that Mughals were invaders, so they should be represented as they were.”
Mr. Kumawat went on to say that it was a disgrace to give a title of distinction like ‘the great’ to Akbar: the respect and honour that is accorded to these rulers is absolutely uncalled for. Instead, Mr. Kumawat advocated honouring Shivaji’s greatness, saying that he was more deserving of such esteem, owing to his ‘sacrifices’ for the nation’s dignity and pride. There should be no hesitation to represent historical events in their ‘proper perspective’, said Mr. Kumawat.
More than a handful of people are speaking out against these unscrupulous amendments, which are a clear attempt of the MP government to distort Indian history and misrepresent historical personalities.
Dismissing the allegations, the Education Minister replied, “No one has been misrepresented or unduly praised. We are only trying to provide correct information to our younger generations about our magnificent past and our great personalities.”
Justifying the modifications, Chairman of the CRT’s standing committee, Mr. Govind Sharma said: “These amendments are essential for teaching children about our glorious past and for promoting patriotism, otherwise their connection with the past will cease.”
BJP state spokesperson Umashankar Gupta had similar comments to make, questioning the appropriacy of calling a king ‘great’ who has no acts of greatness to his credit, while lauding the decision to attribute such an honour to Shivaji because of his devotion for the cause of India and national pride.
Attempts to change Indian history are not new or surprising to anyone; but this latest stab, trying to ‘correct’ ‘erroneous’ Indian history, is unprecedented. Certainly, no one opposes addition of chapters about Shivaji or any other prominent figure, however controversial, and there are no objections to exaggerated representations either. But the problem lies in the inexcusable attempt to bury historical truths under the label of ‘correcting errors’.
The Mughal dynasty ruled over India for 400 years, aligning segmented sections harmoniously to shape a distinct country. No one can deny their role in enhancing the beauty and dignity of India to the height of all times. ‘The golden sparrow’ of the world during their regime, India was a major attraction for the nations of the West, and they came here to make their fortune. The liberalism and artistic temperament of the Mughals as also their just rule are historic factors that cannot be merely brushed away. To sideline their enormous contributions on the pretext of? their being ‘invaders’ and ‘outsiders’ is as utterly absurd as the claim that a people have resided in one part of the earth ever since creation. The rationale behind this modification is atrocious and inexcusable: this is like telling the story of Thanksgiving from the turkey’s point of view!
The righteous ‘offspring’ of this soil who abhor outsiders (prominently Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and the Mughals), ironically claim to be the proud descendants of the Aryan race. The Aryans were foreign invaders notorious for their horrific genocide of Dravidians, who originally reigned in India. It is also legendary how they left no stone unturned in destroying the culture, history and civilization of the Dravidians. May we ask who is talking utter nonsense now?
These ‘revolutionary’ historians need to be reminded of Jawaharlal Nehru’s timeless words: “You don’t change the course of history by turning the faces of portraits to the wall.”