“If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.” Thus goes a controversial quote which fits well with Sangh Parivar outfits out to twist and tweak any fact that does not gel with Hindutva agenda. The latest in a series of tampering with facts are the recommendations sent by the RSS-affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), which recently sought suggestions from the public on reviewing school textbooks. The Nyas is headed by Dina Nath Batra who had been in the news on many occasions for similar attempts.
According to reports, the Nyas has made ludicrous suggestions like removing English, Urdu and Arabic words from Hindi text books; a couplet by Mirza Ghalib; extracts from painter M F Husain’s autobiography; references to the Mughal emperors as benevolent; National Conference as “secular” party; an apology tendered by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the 1984 riots; and a sentence that “nearly 2,000 Muslims were killed in Gujarat in 2002”. It would be naïve to ignore these as mere recommendations by a private body. The Nyas is not an ordinary one. A couple of years back, Batra had succeeded in pressuring Penguin, one of the largest publishing houses in the world, to pulp Wendy Doniger’s scholarly book The Hindus: An Alternate History as its contents were not relished by Hindutva outfits. It was again Batra’s strenuous campaign against A K Ramanujan’s essay Three Hundred Ramayanas that forced Delhi University to remove it from the undergraduate syllabus.
Batra is not alone in changing the course of history. Several State governments, where the BJP is in power, are doing the same to ‘develop a young generation that is committed to Hindutva and its notion of nationalism’. The Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education has approved a change in the history section of the Class X social science book, twisting facts on the 16th century Battle of Haldighati. Students will now be taught that ‘Maharana Pratap conclusively defeated Mughal emperor Akbar’ while historians hitherto maintained that it was an inconclusive war and Maharana had to go into hiding after the war. Apparently, efforts are afoot to rewrite the history of monuments like Taj Mahal and Qutab Minar.
It is not only the medieval and modern history that the Hindutva forces are tampering with. Axe has fallen on ancient history too; Aryans are showcased as the original inhabitants, and not invaders, of Bharat. Efforts are on to convert mythology into history. Many of the stories narrated in epics like Ramayana and Mahabharat are portrayed as proofs of India’s achievements in science and technology. Instead of promoting scientific temper, as mandated in the Constitution of India, legends get legitimacy. History is distorted to suit the ideology of Hindutva forces. It is perturbing that these things happen with the backing of official machinery, starting from the top echelons of government. Hitler’s propaganda secretary Joseph Goebbels has more followers now than ever before. Goebbels’ famous quote ‘A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told thousand times becomes a truth’ has more takers in India than elsewhere.
(Published on 31st July 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 31)