They may have given us the Taj Mahal, Urdu language, and a terrific cuisine, but the Mughals are not considered worthy enough by the Maharashtra State Education Board to be included in history textbooks for school students.
The board has, this academic year, come out with revised textbooks for Std VII and IX, focusing mainly on the Maratha Empire founded by warrior king Shivaji. The Std VII textbook has expunged chapters from the previous edition on the Mughals, and the Muslim rulers in India before the Mughals such as Razia Sultana and Muhammad bin Tuqhlaq.
The revised version makes no mention of the monuments built by these rulers, such as the Taj Mahal, the Qutub Minaar, and the Red Fort. The revised history textbook for Std IX mentions the Bofors scam and the Emergency of 1975-1977. Kolhapur-based Bapusaheb Shinde, a member of the history subject committees for both old and revised textbooks, told Mirror that last year, State Education Minister Vinod Tawde held a meeting at Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini, a think-tank promoted by the RSS, where the revision of the syllabus was discussed. “The need was felt to update history with modern events.The Mughal history has been reduced. Modern history needs to be incorporated,“ Shinde said.
Tawde did not respond when Mirror contacted him for his version on the matter.
In the Std VII textbook on medieval India, covering the sub-continent from the 9th Century AD to the 18th Century, Akbar’s reign as been described thus: “Akbar was the most powerful king of the Mughal dynasty. When he tried to bring India under a central authority, he had to face opposition. Maharana Pratap, Chand Bibi, and Rani Durgavati struggled against him. Their struggle is noteworthy.“
There is also no mention of the rupaya that was first introduced as currency by the Afghan invaders, and the term still continues.
Till last academic year, Akbar was introduced in the same textbook as a “liberal and tolerant administrator who was a patron of learning and art“. The emperor was also described as someone who had abolished the `jaziyah’, prohibited the practice of sati, and allowed widow remarriage. He was also called the founder of a universal religion called the Din-E-Illahi.
The other notable omissions from the previous textbook editions are paragraphs on Razia Sultana, the first woman to rule Delhi, Muhammad bin Tughluq’s decision to shift his capital city from Delhi to Daulatabad in present-day Marathwada and his demonetisation move (he had overnight replaced gold and silver coins with copper and brass ones), and the remarkable reign of Sher Shah Suri who forced Humayun to flee from India.
In the revised textbook, Shivaji has been made the focal point of medieval Indian histo ry. His role, and those of his family and the Maratha generals, have been expanded. While the old textbook titled the chapter on him as `People’s King’, the revised textbook has renamed it `An Ideal Ruler’.
Kishore Darak, the Pune-based independent researcher in curriculum and textbooks, said the cover of the new Std VII textbook was “problematic“. “It creates an image that the Hindu samrajya existed in India during that period, as the cover displays saffron flags all over the map of the country. This is factually incorrect and reeks of political agenda,“ Darak said.
Neeta Vaz from St. Anne’s School in Malad, who has been teaching history for the last 24 years, pointed out a glaring omission. “In the previous version, the first chapter titled `India and the World’ described the feudal order in Europe, role of the Arabs in the spice trade between Europe and South East Asia, the Islamic world’s contribution to arts, science, and literature, and the rise of Islam. It offered a background to the first Arab invasion into the Indian sub-continent in the 8th Century AD. All of that has been removed,“ Vaz said.
She further pointed out that chapters on architectural splendour during the Mughal era, the Mughals’ initiatives of starting postal service, building `serais’ or inns on the highway, and measuring the highways have also been removed. “Students need to know about these things,“ she said.
Sadanand More, chairman of the History subject committee of the Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production and Curriculum Research, justified the revision saying it was relevant for students in Maharashtra.
“Why should we not change? We have looked at history from a Maharashtra-centric point of view. Even if it is the Delhi Sultanate or the Mughal rule and the medieval history of India, we have kept Maharashtra at the centre. It is a natural course as we are from Maharashtra.What’s wrong in that? In fact the Central board books have very little about our state,“ More said.