House panel may meet over removal of history chapters
It was the first meeting of the committee after the controversy broke out over deletions from history textbooks, such as that of an entire chapter on Mughal history, references to caste and inequality
NEW DELHI: A parliamentary standing committee on education is likely to hold a special meeting to discuss the row over the changes in the school textbooks introduced by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) for the 2023-24 academic year.
After protests by Congress MP TN Prathapan and other Opposition MPs in a meeting on Thursday, chairman of the House panel Vivek Thakur said he would convene a separate meeting to discuss the concerns raised by the members.
It was the first meeting of the committee after the controversy broke out over deletions from history textbooks, such as that of an entire chapter on Mughal history, references to caste and inequality, mention of the 2002 Gujarat riots, Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination by Nathuram Godse and references of Maulana Azad and J&K accession.
While Prathapan demanded to speak on the role of organizations like PPRC, a think tank associated with BJP, and Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal in textbook modification, and the need for the panel to intervene and repeal the changes, the chairman declined to deviate from the scheduled agenda. The agenda of the meeting was fixed for matters concerning foreign higher educational institutions, and hostel facilities for female students at Delhi University among others.
As more members, TMC MP Sushmita Dev, Akhilesh Prasad Singh, and others joined Prathapan in support, the chairman agreed to accept a letter written by Prathapan on the issues on record. While handing over the letter, Thakur also said that he will consider the demand for a special meeting on the issue.
In the letter, he said, “I remember the initial meetings of this same committee to discuss the textbook modification, especially history textbooks, of NCERT and several state syllabi. The recommendations made by the presenters invited to the committee deserved to be rejected at any cost. I along with some of my colleagues on the committee had registered our criticism in written and oral forms. Later many academicians and organizations like Indian History Council had rejected the proposals of PPRC and Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal pointing to the unacademic and unethical observations that they made in their proposals,” he said
He went on to ask: “Why were PPRC and Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal invited to this committee? I had raised my concern over the logic of the invitation given to the PPRC and Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal to submit and present the proposal for textbook modification to the parliamentary standing committee on Education. PPRC is a PR organization focusing on election management and worked along with BJP in various state election campaigns”
He said the organization has no prior experience in academia, syllabus reformation, and textbook designing. “The presenters who came to this committee were not experts on history and related disciplines like historiography. Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal was known for propaganda-based educational visions and communal observation in the educational field.”
He said inviting these two organizations to propose the textbook modification was a huge mistake. “I doubt it was part of a long-running conspiracy to distort history. All the recommendations made by these two organizations were deeply communal and politically motivated,” it said.
On deletion of Mughal history, he said, “Learning Indian history without mentioning the Mughal Empire is foolishness. The inclusion of their contemporary rulers in various parts of the Indian subcontinent where the Mughals didn’t rule is appreciable. But that shouldn’t be convened by the exclusion of the Mughal Empire,” said the letter. In the letter, the MP also came down heavily on other deletions such as Gandhi, Maulana Azad, and others.