Express Investigation – Part 3: Textbook Revision Narrows Some of the Story About India’s Islamic Rulers


The ruling establishment’s view that Indian history glorifies invaders and Mughals to the detriment of others has now found strong resonance where it probably matters most: school textbooks.

Content on Islamic leaders has suffered deep cuts in sweeping changes to textbooks by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) as part of its latest ‘streamlining’ exercise, records show. internal.

The Indian Express reviewed nine current history textbooks for grades 6-12 and matched the content with charts circulated within NCERT on the proposed changes.

He found that most changes related to Muslim rulers were made in a single textbook: several pages on the Delhi Sultanate, ruled by many dynasties including the Mamluks, Tughlaqs, Khaljis and Lodis, and the Mughal empire have been removed from class 7. history textbook ‘Our pasts – II’.

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The official rationale given by NCERT – the government body that decides on curriculum and textbooks – for the latest textbook review exercise is to reduce the load on the curriculum to help students “recover quickly” from setbacks. learning experienced during the pandemic.

The “distortion” and “misrepresentation” of India’s past has been the common refrain among members of the ruling BJP. Even as recently as June 10, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said at a book launch that the country’s history is distorted with the emphasis on Mughals at the expense of empires such as the Pandyas, Cholas, Mauryas, Guptas and Ahoms, and that now “no one can prevent us from rewriting it”.

Here are some of the significant changes NCERT made to Islamic and Mughal rulers:

🔴 Three pages dealing with the expansion of the Delhi Sultanate, especially towards the south, in the class 7 textbook “Our past – II”, have been removed.

The removed part also had a section explaining a masjid: “A mosque is called a masjid in Arabic, literally a place where a Muslim prostrates himself in reverence to Allah. In a “congregational mosque” (masjid-i-jami or jama masjid), Muslims read their prayers (namaz) together. Members of the congregation choose the most respected and educated man as the leader (imam) for the prayer rituals. He also delivers the sermon (khutba) during the Friday prayer. During prayer, Muslims stand facing Mecca. In India, it’s in the west. This is called the qibla.

That aside, a detailed chart comparing Alauddin Khalji’s response to repeated Mongol attacks with that of Muhammad Tughluq has also been omitted.

🔴 The chapter “The Mughal Empire” of the Class 7 textbook also suffered cuts, including a two-page chart detailing the milestones and achievements of Mughal emperors such as Humayun, Shah Jahan, Babur, Akbar, Jahangir and Aurangzeb .

🔴 In the Class 12 History textbook, the chapter ‘Kings and Chronicles: The Mughal Courts’ (Themes in Indian History — Part II) has been removed. The chapter discussed Mughal-era manuscripts like Akbar Nama and Badshah Nama and how these tell the history of the Mughals through battles, hunting expeditions, building constructions and court scenes.

Changed key table

In an earlier table of changes, which was posted on the NCERT website and uploaded by The Indian Express, there were further revisions to a part on Mahmud of Ghazni, a section on ‘Akbar’s policies’ and all content on independent political states. excavated in the former Mughal provinces – all in the history textbook for class 7 “Our past – II”.

This table was replaced last week with another that does not reflect these three deletions and changes. The changes listed in the preceding table were as follows:

🔴 The reference in the second chapter to Mahmud Ghazni of Afghanistan, who invaded the subcontinent and attacked the temple of Somnath, has been changed. First, the title “Sultan” was dropped from his name. Second, the phrase “he raided the subcontinent almost every year” was revised to “he raided the subcontinent 17 times (1000-1025 CE) with a religious motive”.

Table on milestones, achievements of Mughals suppressed.

Also, a paragraph about Mahmud’s interest in getting to know the peoples he conquered better has been deleted. The deleted passage read: “Sultan Mahmud was also interested in knowing more about the people he conquered and commissioned a scholar named Al-Biruni to write an account of the subcontinent. This Arabic work, known as the Kitab ul-Hind, remains an important source for historians. He consulted Sanskrit scholars to prepare this account.

🔴 The chapter ‘The Mughal Empire’ is renamed ‘The Mughals (16th to 17th century)’. A section on “Akbar’s politics”, including the outline of his administration, his interest in the religion and social customs of different people, and how he commissioned the translation of Sanskrit works into Persian, was removed.

🔴 The chapter title ‘The Delhi Sultans’ has been changed to ‘Delhi: 12th to 15 Century’.

🔴 The NCERT erased the entire content of five pages on the independent political states of Awadh, Bengal and Hyderabad which were cut from the former Mughal provinces of the chapter “Political formations of the 18th century”. Content on states under the control of Rajputs, Marathas, Sikhs and Jats has been retained.

“Not selective”

Speaking to The Indian Express on the latest streamlining initiative, NCERT Director Dinesh Saklani said, “Firstly, this is not a selective exercise. We have tried to reduce student workload in all subjects, not just social studies. We also did the same for math and science. Apart from that, this exercise was done in a very professional way with the help of external experts. NCERT does not interfere with what experts have to say. They felt that some of the content could be deleted as it is covered elsewhere in other manuals.

Saklani said there was also a need “to stay aware of the issues students have faced during Covid”. “Not only was there a loss of learning, but they also lost a lot of time. It would have been very unfair of us not to help them with the load of the program,” he said.

Asked about the discrepancy between two tables with changes in the class 7 history textbook, he said: “Usually there are several drafts. I don’t know if someone uploaded an unfinished draft by mistake or something. Regarding the NCERT, there is only one table (for each textbook) and this is now available on the website. Please consider this.

More deletions

Other deletions include:

n Students will no longer have to study the “Rules and Constructions” chapter of the Class 7 History textbook. It focuses on the architectural style of temples built by Hindu kings and mosques, tombs and forts built by Muslim leaders.

n In the history of class 11, the chapter “Central Islamic Lands” has been removed. It deals with the rise of Islam and its expansion over a vast territory stretching from Egypt to Afghanistan, the heart of Islamic civilization from 600 to 1200 AD.

Tomorrow: Part 4 — A Place for Politics at the Program Table


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