“While a review process is always required, this should be done including acknowledged experts from all around the country…” the Indian History Congress remarked, strongly criticizing the committee’s proposals.
A Parliamentary committee on education has called for a review of how Indian freedom fighters are depicted in school history textbooks and recommended that “ancient wisdom and knowledge” from the Vedas be incorporated into the school curriculum, stating that educational content for students should be “free of biases.”
The report of the standing committee on education, women, children, youth, and sports, chaired by BJP MP Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe, also highlights the importance of including Sikh and Maratha history in the curriculum, as well as gender-inclusive publications.
“With senior historians, there is a need to examine and review how Indian freedom fighters from various regions/parts of the country and their contributions are represented in history textbooks. As a result, the Indian liberation struggle will be viewed in a more balanced and reasonable light. This will go a long way toward giving appropriate and proper room to freedom fighters who have previously been unknown and unnoticed in the independence cause. The report filed in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday noted, “A review of depiction of group identity based history, such as Sikh and Maratha history, and their suitable incorporation in textbooks will help in a more judicious perspective of their contribution.”
There are ten Rajya Sabha members on the committee, including four from the BJP and one each from the TMC (Sushmita Dev), CPM (Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya), DMK (RS Bharathi), AIADMK (M Thambidurai), SP (Vishambhar Prasad Nishad), SP (Vishambhar Prasad Nishad), SP (Vishambhar Prasad Nishad (Akhilesh Prasad Singh). The BJP has 12 Lok Sabha MPs, the Congress has two, while the TMC, CPM, JD(U), Shiv Sena, YSRCP, DMK, and BJD each have one.
The group had begun work on a report on school textbook revisions, with an emphasis on deleting references to “un-historical facts and distortions” regarding India’s national heroes, guaranteeing proportionate references to all periods of Indian history, and highlighting the role of women achievers.
“It’s also important to make sure that books are devoid of prejudices.” Another proposal in the report, which was agreed on November 26, was that textbooks “should infuse dedication to ideals entrenched in the constitution and should further foster national integration and togetherness.”
Apart from the Union Ministry of Education, CBSE, NCERT, and the Maharashtra SCERT, seven organisations, including three RSS affiliates—Bhartiya Sikshan Mandal, Siksha Sanskriti Uthan Nyas, and Vidya Bharti—have deposed before the committee since January.
JS Rajput, the NCERT director from 1999 to 2004, and officials of the Pratham Education Foundation were among those who spoke before the panel.
The Indian History Congress (IHC), which also filed a deposition, strongly opposed the committee’s recommendations, saying, “While a review process is always necessary, it should be done involving recognized scholars from all over the country and with adequate attention to the academic content, derived from primary sources.”
The NCERT and state SCERTs should “incorporate ancient wisdom, knowledge, and teachings about life and society from Vedas and other major Indian texts/ literature in the school curriculum,” according to the committee’s findings.
“Also, educational approaches used in ancient universities such as Nalanda, Vikramshila, and Takshila should be investigated and appropriately updated to serve as a model reference for teachers…” it continued.
The Ministry of Education appointed a 12-member national steering committee in September, led by former ISRO chairman K Kasturiranga, to update the National Curriculum Framework (NCF), which lays out general parameters for changes to the NCERT curriculum.
The NCERT has notified the committee that it is forming a panel to “quickly investigate and rectify some of the issues highlighted by different stakeholders with reference to un-historical facts and distortions concerning our national heroes as well as events if any.