REWRITING HISTORY TEXT BOOKS

A cup of steaming tea with a newspaper, and what do we have, a heated discussion on politics and politicians. All of a sudden, the sound of silence, the front page headlines say, "Text book issue rocks Rajya Sabha". Eyebrows all around the country are raised while questions and answers make their rounds. The most common of them being "Whose idea was this?", "Who are the writers?", "Is there really a need for such a step?".

One begins to wonder, can we wish away the Babri Masjid, or the Taj Mahal for that matter. Will someone wish to build a children’s Park where the Gateway of India now stands! One can go on and on until dizziness takes over.

 

 

The Indian subcontinent has been exposed to foreign cultures since time immemorial. Slowly but surely this has influenced the Indian ethos and thinking. What we now see is a multifaceted scenario also called the Indian ethnic diversity.

This saga began four thousand years ago on the banks of the Indus River and many of these events coincided with the turning points in our civilization. These events also moulded and shaped the India of today. History ?the story of mankind, needs to be passed on from generation to generation. For some, it is to know their roots and for some it is to honour their heroes. For some, history may be a cause for shame, and for some it shows a way to make amends.

The history of mankind includes his struggle against nature and his struggle against man. There is an everlasting struggle to be free. History is the story of mankind and his journey through wars, diseases, religious beliefs and dogmas, persecutions, inquisitions, torture in the name of God, in the name of peace and in the name of ideals.

We, as historians, educationists and teachers owe it to the students not to misrepresent, tamper or misinterpret the happenings of the past. We also owe it to ourselves to pass on an honest, undiluted and unprejudiced story of our motherland, so that the next generation can learn from past mistakes, adapt to the changes in environment and thinking and become the harbingers of a better tomorrow.

With all the exposure to media, western fashions and the nuclear family, it is of greater concern today, where the new generation is headed. The children of today have problems with peer pressure, loneliness and stress. Let us come together and endeavour to make life more enjoyable and fruitful for them.

Evangeline Ranjan
Principal, Udyachal High School

 

 

Evangeline Ranjan’s concern is shared by several educationists in the country. Fortunately for the cause of history, the President of India, Shri K.R. Narayanan, has in a message to the 62nd Indian History Congress, placed the problem of rewriting history in its proper perspective.

 

 

"Exploration and study of history is a fascinating exercise with relevance and consequences for our own time and our future. As those who forget history are at the grave risk of repeating it, the reconstruction of past through the study of this subject without prejudice to facts is of utmost importance. ‘History,?in the words of Jawaharlal Nehru, ‘is a living process? Howsoever remote and antiquated the events may be, the deep recesses of history are still throbbing with sensation of that period with bearing on our contemporary life and our living process.

"Understanding, interpretation and rumination of the past therefore must be consistent with the facts without impairing truth and veracity. Departure and deviation from this will reduce history to fiction spelling danger for the country.

"Our ‘responsibility to facts? therefore, must be paramount, regardless of their being bitter or sweet so that history is not abused for political or ideological purposes. We in India have the tradition established by eminent historians who have painstakingly written history on the basis of facts and evidence for the benefit of school students, serious scholars and society as a whole. We have to keep this tradition.

"The Indian judiciary in a remarkable judgement in the Bombay High Court in the Anant Janardhan Karandikar vs. State, observed in 1967, ‘It is the right and privilege of every thinker to express his judgement on historical events in a fearless manner. Otherwise, we will not get a true and faithful history of our country. History is not to serve as a handmaid of a particular school of thought. History must be impartial and objective. To rewrite history, according to the views which are popular or which are necessary for bolstering up nationalistic egoism and jingoism, is perversion of history.? Established scientific tradition of writing history in our country and the observation of the judiciary on the subject can be a guide to us in this regard.

"I am glad that the 62nd Session of the Indian History Congress is being organised in Bhopal from December 28, 2001, at a time when there are widespread apprehensions about the correct interpretation of our understanding of history in the correct perspective, will be of great value in dispelling such apprehensions. I am sure that the deliberations of the Congress will be meaningful and useful in this direction and contribute to the scientific and rational understanding of our historical traditions. On this occasion I have great pleasure in extending my greetings and good wishes to the participants and the organisers for the success of the Congress."

 


K. R. Narayanan
December 26, 2001 ?New Delhi

Courtesy: ‘Communalism Combat? Jan-Feb 2002, edited by Javed Anand and Teesta Setalvad. Printed and Published for Sabrang Communications & Publishing Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai.

 

‘I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent’’.

?nbsp;Mahatma Gandhi

 
 

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