"History is written by the victors," is a phrase that we all have heard or read but it is rare to watch it unfold in front of our eyes.
An Indian Express report on Wednesday has revealed that certain paragraphs referring to Mahatma Gandhi, his assassin Nathuram Godse, and the RSS have been deleted from three NCERT social science textbooks that just appeared in the market. So, what was being taught to students in 2022 that won't be in 2023?
So, what was being taught to students in 2022 that won't in 2023?
Political Science, Class 12: RSS Ban Deleted
Take a look at page 12 of the book, Politics in India Since Independence, meant for class 12. As of 2022, the last paragraph of the page with the subhead 'Mahatma Gandhi’s sacrifice', read,
"Gandhiji’s death had an almost magical effect on the communal situation in the country. Partition-related anger and violence suddenly subsided. The Government of India cracked down on organisations that were spreading communal hatred. Organisations like the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh were banned for some time. Communal politics began to lose its appeal."Page 12, Politics in India Since Independence (as of 2022)
But now, in the 2023 version of the book, page 12 or any other page in the book will not have this paragraph or any reference to the 1948 RSS ban issued by Sardar Patel.
Similarly, the third paragraph of page 12 in the 2022 version read,
"He, (implying Gandhi) was particularly disliked by those who wanted Hindus to take revenge or who wanted India to become a country for the Hindus, just as Pakistan was for Muslims. They accused Gandhiji of acting in the interests of the Muslims and Pakistan. Gandhiji thought that these people were misguided. He was convinced that any attempt to make India into a country only for the Hindus would destroy India. His steadfast pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity provoked Hindu extremists so much that they made several attempts to assassinate Gandhiji."Page 12, Politics in India Since Independence (as of 2022)
These lines have been wiped off in the 2023 version and replaced by, well, nothing.
The third paragraph of the page now merely talks about how "extremists in both communities blamed him for their conditions," and how "one such extremist, Nathuram Vinayak Godse" ...killed him on 30 January 1948.
History, Class 12: Godse's Brahmin Idendity Omitted
Speaking of Godse, let's turn to page number 366 of the NCERT class 12 history textbook, Themes In Indian History Part III. Until 2022, students, reading about Godse, would come across the following paragraph,
"At his daily prayer meeting on the evening of 30 January, Gandhiji was shot dead by a young man. The assassin, who surrendered afterwards, was a Brahmin from Pune named Nathuram Godse, the editor of an extremist Hindu newspaper who had denounced Gandhiji as 'an appeaser of Muslims'."Page 366, Themes In Indian History Part III (as of 2022)
And what will students read in 2023? Nothing about him being a Brahmin or him being an editor of an extremist Hindu newspaper. The 2023 updated version simply reads,
"At his daily prayer meeting on the evening of 30 January, Gandhiji was shot dead by a young man. The assassin, who surrendered afterwards, was Nathuram Godse."Page 366, Themes In Indian History Part III (2023)
Sociology, Class 11: Para on Segregation & Ghettoisation Deleted
And finally, the class 11 sociology book, Understanding Society. As of 2022, page 45 of this book talked about segregation in Indian cities and included a recent example, the 2002 Gujarat riots. The page read,
"Where and how people will live in cities is a question that is also filtered through socio-cultural identities. Residential areas in cities all over the world are almost always segregated by class, and often also by race, ethnicity, religion and other such variables. Tensions between such identities both cause these segregation patterns and are also a consequence. For example, in India, communal tensions between religious communities, most commonly Hindus and Muslims, results in the conversion of mixed neighbourhoods into single-community ones. This in turn gives a specific spatial pattern to communal violence whenever it erupts, which again furthers the ‘ghettoisation’ process. This has happened in many cities in India, most recently in Gujarat following the riots of 2002."Pages 43-45, Understanding Society (as of 2022)
This paragraph has been also deleted from the 2023 version of the book without any substitute, and with that, the only remaining reference to the 2002 Gujarat riots in NCERT textbooks has been done away with.
Given the latest crackdown by NCERT, and judging past trends, one can only hope that more lessons in school textbooks are not omitted, edited, or re-written.