New Delhi, December 01: Noting that many historical figures and freedom fighters have been portrayed in an incorrect manner as "offenders,", a parliamentary panel called for a review of how Indian freedom fighters are depicted in school history textbooks. It has called for a review, saying that the educational content for students should be "free of biases".
The report of the standing committee on education, women, children, youth, and sports, which is headed by BJP MP Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe, also emphasizes the need to make additions from Sikh and Maratha history in the curriculum, as well as making the books gender-inclusive.
The panel also 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 committee during its interaction noted that many of the historical figures and freedom fighters of Indian freedom struggle have been portrayed in an incorrect manner as offenders. Therefore, the Committee is of the view that wrong portrayal of our heroes of freedom struggle should be corrected and they should be given due respect in our history textbooks," the report said.
"...in the context of the unequal representation of various periods and dynasties in the history textbooks by the stakeholders, (the Committee) observes that NCERT should take a relook at the guidelines for the writing of the history textbooks so that equal weightage and importance is given to the various eras, periods and events in the history textbooks," it added.
The panel noted that school textbooks do not give adequate coverage to some of the great Indian empires like that of Vikramaditya, Cholas, Chalukyas, Vijaynagar, Gondwana, or that of Travancore and Ahoms of North-Eastern region, whose contributions in the expansion of India's standing on the world stage cannot be ignored.
"Discoveries are taking place, new facts are coming up, and textbooks just cannot remain the same. This is worsened if the history is written with certain pre-conceived biases resulting out of politically-constrained ideological bindings," the panel said.
"History writing in India has suffered on these unacceptable considerations, and it must be extracted -- and liberated -- out of gross subjectivity and ideological bias to transparent objectivity, and openness of mind, willingness to enter into dialogue with those holding diametrically opposite views," it added.
The Committee noted that new facts have emerged around us, including Aryan invasion theory, Saraswati River, Ram Setu, and so many more, solely because of new scientific advancements and new tools that have led to new researches.
"These just cannot be ignored in preparing new textbooks. The British tried to downgrade the great contributions of ancient India in philosophy, 25 science, mathematics, spirituality, medicine, and other fields and it was continued to be neglected in our textbooks. While considerable initiatives were taken for removing gender bias and caste discriminations, history writing remained confined to the hegemony of a select group of few academics for over five decades," the report said.
The Committee received approximately 20,000 representations from experts, individuals, and organisations on the subject pointing to discrepancies/omissions in the school textbooks.