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250 Historians Express Appallment at NCERT's Decision to Remove Topics from History Textbook

The signatories of the statement include Romila Thapar, Jayati Gosh, Mridula Mukherjee, Apoorvanad, Irfan Habib, and Upinder Singh, among others.

Image credit: JK Chrome

A group of historians has expressed their dismay over the NCERT's recent decision to remove certain topics from history textbooks for CBSE students. They have called the move "a matter of deep concern" and have expressed their "appallment" at the decision, according to a report by NDTV.

The signatories of the statement include Romila Thapar, Jayati Gosh, Mridula Mukherjee, Apoorvanad, Irfan Habib, and Upinder Singh, among others.

The historians have argued that the pandemic and the lockdown have been used as an argument to drop the content related to the history of Mughal courts, the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, the Emergency, 2002, mention of Dalit writers, and the Naxalite movement among other topics from social science, history, and political science textbooks of classes VI to XII.

According to the group, the changes are not based on accurate historical research but rather in the backdrop of the government’s “larger ideological agenda of misconstruing the history of the people of the Indian subcontinent as a product of the hegemonic singular (Hindu) tradition.”

The report quoted from the statement by historians, "By reducing the study of history to such monolithic accounts, the ground is being prepared for pseudo-histories, especially of a communal and casteist variety, to hold sway. In any case, such 'histories' are widely circulated today through WhatsApp and other social media applications."

A Times of India report quoted them as saying: “There has been no attempt to consult members of the teams that had prepared the textbooks, which included historians and school teachers, apart from members of the NCERT. The books were developed through a process of consultation and wide-ranging discussions. This was valuable not only in terms of content, but also in terms of pedagogy, which ensured an organic unity and a graded development in understanding from the middle to the senior school. The attempt was also to make the textbooks as inclusive as possible, and to provide a sense of the rich diversity of the human past both within the subcontinent and the wider world. As such, removing chapters/sections of chapters is highly problematic not only in terms of depriving learners of valuable content, but also in terms of the pedagogical values required to equip them to meet present and future challenges.”

The NCERT has refuted allegations of suppressing historical facts. They stated that their efforts are aimed at assisting students impacted by the pandemic and are purely professional, devoid of any hidden political agenda.

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