Remove Riots, English and Urdu Words, and Praise of Mughals from Textbooks: Dinanath Batra

In a five-page list of recommendations, the RSS-affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, headed by Batra, has demanded a host of changes.

New Delhi: RSS-affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, headed by Dinanath Batra, has sent the National Council for Education and Research Training (NCERT) a five-page list of recommendations on how to make school textbooks less “biased” and more “inspiring”, an Indian Express report has said.

What do these instructions, first reported by DNA, entail? No words in English, Arabic or Urdu; the removal of a poem by Punjabi poet Pash, a couplet by Mirza Ghalib, extracts from M.F. Husain’s autobiography and the thoughts of Rabindranath Tagore; no reference to an apology rendered by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the Sikh riots of 1984; removing mentions of the BJP as a ‘Hindu’ party and the National Conference as ‘secular’; a paragraph that links the Ram temple debate with the rise of the BJP and Hindutva politics; the list goes on.

Textbooks should also remove details about riots, the Nyas letter says, including a line saying “nearly 2,000 Muslims were killed in Gujarat in 2002”.

“Several things (in these books) are baseless, biased. There is an attempt to insult members of a community. There is also an appeasement… how can you inspire children by teaching them about riots? The history of valour, of great personalities like Shivaji, Maharana Pratap, Vivekananda and Subhas Chandra Bose find no place,” Atul Kothari, secretary of the Nyas and an RSS pracharak, told the Indian Express.

What do they want removed?

The group has taken pages from several different textbooks, marked “offending” portions and attached them to their recommendations. A pattern is clearly visible in the things they want removed.

From a history textbook, they was a section from a chapter on the Mughal period that says ““the rulers had an extremely liberal policy towards people… All Mughal rulers gave grants for the construction and maintenance of places of worship. Even when the temples were destroyed during battles, grants for their repair work were released later” taken out.

In the class 12 political science textbook, they are unhappy with the line, “Babri mosque was built by Mir Baqi… Some Hindus believe that it was built at the birthplace of Ram by destroying a Ram temple.”

From the class seven history book, a line that says Akbar introduced a “Sulah-e-Kul policy,” which said that “the followers of all religions have an equal place… (before) God’s grace” should also be removed, according to the organisation. As should a section on the caste system in the class 12 history book which says, “In this system the status was probably determined by birth. They (Brahmins) tried to make people realise that their prestige was based on birth… such parameters were often strengthened by stories in many books like The Mahabharata.”

This is not the first time the Nyas and Batra have tried to change a curriculum – and in the past, they’ve succeeded in getting what they wanted. The group ran a campaign demanding that A.K. Ramanujan’s essay Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation be removed from the Delhi University undergraduate syllabus, which it was. The Nyas demanded that Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus not be sold in India and the publisher, Penguin India, had pulled the book from circulation.