In a much needed rightful and commendable step, The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) made a lot of changes in its textbooks. In the revised edition many unsung heroes found their right places which have been deliberately expunged from the textbooks by the Congress and the Left parties. Many celebrated icons like Peshwa and Maratha General Bajirao Ballal, Jat King Surajmal, Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap and the Great Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji, freedom fighters Lala Lajpat Rai and Vallabhbhai Patel, and spiritual leaders Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda are now included . In the revised edition these icons are either added or it has been given more space. For instance, the revised edition of Class 8th History book now has 250 words on Swami Vivekananda earlier his Ramkrishna Mission edition only had 21 words. In Class 7th History book, 100 additional words have been added about Shivaji, the Maratha ruler. Clearly, there is more space for the Nationalist icons in the revised edition.
As quoted by Howard Zinn , “History is important. If you don’t know history it is as if you were born yesterday. And if you were born yesterday, anybody up there in a position of power can tell you anything, and you have no way of checking up on it”. This tells us how important history is for nation building.
In Class 11th History book, the section which talks about Bhagat Singh has also been amended and names of freedom fighters Chandra Shekhar Azad, Sukhdev and Rajguru has been added. In the earlier version these names were not present in the textbooks. The older version reads, “Revolutionary nationalists such as Bhagat Singh and his comrades wanted to fight colonial rule and the rich exploiting classes through a revolution of workers and peasants”. Now in the revised version the words ‘and his comrades’ have been replaced with names of the freedom fighters, Chandra Shekhar Azad and Sukhdev.
The Indian Express has recently carried out a research about changes made in the NCERT textbooks under the Modi government. According to the Indian Express report, National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in its 182 textbooks have made at least 1,334 changes.The changes made to the textbooks also included additions, corrections and data update. Science textbooks have received maximum number changes (573), 316 changes have been made to Social Science textbooks and 163 changes have been to Sanskrit textbooks. Special emphasis has been laid on the ancient Indian values. Revised books from class 6th to 10th now carry new and additional information on Ayurveda, Upanishads, Smritis, Vedanta Yoga and other scientific achievements of ancient India in the fields of Astronomy, Metallurgy, Chemistry and Indian Philosophy. Now NCERT books will give better understanding of the glorious past of this great country ‘Bharat’. It is very important to know about your true past, an eye to the past helps to guide a better future. As quoted by Shashi Tharoor, “If you don’t know where you have come from, you will never appreciate where you are going”.
We are well aware of the drawbacks that the older textbooks had, from being too Mughal centric and Delhi centric in the history they taught. This despite the fact that whether India should consider the sultanates and their leaders as its own icons or not which is highly debatable. However, the new textbooks have instead laid emphasis on the right kind of icons. These are the real heroes who fought for India and brought her glory. From spiritual figures to non Gandhi-Nehru freedom fighters to non-Mughal kings, the textbooks seem to have brought a whole new dimension to enlighten the next generation, and it is version or narrative which is not only more accurate, but necessary. As quoted from the movie the Monument Men’s, “You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed”.