Rewrite history texts to flag fightback, not losses: review panelist

Saying that the existing curriculum in schools dwells “too much on defeats”, National Book Trust chairman Govind Prasad Sharma has said that “in the light of new facts, history should be rewritten” and textbooks should talk about the “fighting spirit” of rulers such as Maharana Pratap in battles against foreign invaders.

Sharma is a member of the K Kasturirangan-led committee, set up by the Centre on September 21, to revise the National Curriculum Framework, which will lay down broad guidelines for school syllabus and textbooks.

On Tuesday, the 12-member committee entrusted with drafting the NCF had its first meeting, which was also attended by School Education Secretary Anita Karwal. The meeting discussed provisions of the National Education Policy, 2020, the Union Ministry of Education said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Speaking to The Indian Express on Wednesday, Sharma said, “The history that is taught today only talks about hum yahan har gaye, hum wahan haar gaye (we lost here, we lost there). But we need to discuss the struggles, the valiant fights put up against foreign invaders during battles. We don’t highlight enough of that.

“The fact that there were so many battles is only because they put up such strong resistance. For example, a narrative has been created that (Mughal emperor) Akbar defeated Maharana Pratap while the fact is that the two never had a face-to-face battle. In the light of new facts, history should be rewritten. Or we can also say that new facts should be included in textbooks. The revised syllabi should also help develop social harmony and national pride,” he said.

The NBT chairperson was responding to a question on what he identifies as the shortcomings in the existing NCERT curriculum, which is taught in CBSE-affiliated schools across the country.

Sharma is a former president of the RSS education wing Vidya Bharati, which runs a chain of schools across India, and remains a central executive member of the body. Sharma has earlier been chairman of the Madhya Pradesh government’s textbook writing standing committee.

Sharma said the committee, in its first meeting, decided to start working on 25 focus areas covering sectors such as evolution in technology, environment, India’s traditional knowledge system, and culture. He said the curriculum should also capture the scientific accomplishments in ancient India.

“For one, there should be Vedic mathematics. Also, physics in ancient India and the country’s overall contribution to science,” Sharma said, adding, “The curriculum will be such that it helps develop social harmony and national pride. We will take a forward-looking approach rather than spending time on the shortcomings.”

The National Education Policy, 2020, spells out that ancient Indian knowledge “will be incorporated in an accurate and scientific manner throughout the school curriculum wherever relevant”.

The NCF was last prepared in 2005 under the UPA government, and before that, it was revised in 1975, 1988 and 2000.

Besides Sharma, other members of the committee, led by former ISRO chief Kasturirangan, include Fields Medal recipient Manjul Bhargava; author of ‘The Lost River: On The Trail of Saraswati’ Michel Danino, Jamia Millia Islamia Vice-Chancellor Najma Akhtar and Central Tribal University of Andhra Pradesh Vice-Chancellor T V Kattimani.

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