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When Shivaji Stole Mughal Thunder in Maharashtra History Textbooks

Can three centuries of Mughal rule be condensed into three paragraphs in an Indian history textbook?

Updated
India
4 min read
When Shivaji Stole Mughal Thunder in Maharashtra History Textbooks
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The Mughals may have ruled over India for over three centuries – leaving a giant imprint on our culture; but the Maharashtra Education Board is unimpressed.

The board has cut down chapters on Mughal history to just a few paragraphs in the new history textbooks for Class VII students – choosing instead to make Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the Marathas the focal point of the book.

Saffron flags and an image of Shivaji Maharaj have replaced the Raigad fort on the cover of the new textbooks.
(Photo Courtesy: Ebalbharati)
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There are glaring differences in the latest edition and the 2008 edition of the book – that was taught in schools till last year. Let’s take a closer look.

The cover of the revised book now bears saffron flags and an image of Shivaji Maharaj instead of the Raigad fort that adorned the old edition.

Inside, the book contains a note for teachers that seeks to explain the decision to revise the curriculum. “The special feature of this presentation is that it focuses on Maharashtra. Even though our state is part of the Republic of India, if we study history from the perspective of Maharashtra, we will understand the position, role and contribution of Maharashtra in the history of India, and the students will develop a more mature national feeling”.

A note to teachers in the revised edition of the Class VII history book justifying the focus on Maharashtra.
(Photo Courtesy: Ebalbharati)

This disclaimer doesn’t do much for the readers. After all:

Eleven of the book’s 13 chapters focus only on the Marathas.

Here’s what the new Table of Contents looks like:

A look at the table of contents of the two editions.
(Photo Courtesy: Ebalbharati)

While the earlier edition saw Shivaji Maharaj being featured from Chapter 11 onwards, The revised edition introduces students to the warrior king and his achievements in Chapter 2.

Too caught up to read? Listen to the story:

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Three Centuries of Mughal Rule in 3 Paragraphs

The older edition focused on the impact of world events on India. In its first few chapters, the textbook introduced the concept of Feudalism, while also delving into the rise of Islam worldwide, and the Arab invasion of India. All of this is missing from the 2017 edition.

Three whole chapters dedicated to the Mughal emperors in the earlier edition have now been condensed to barely three paragraphs. The religious, architectural, cultural and political influence of the Mughals finds no place in the new edition.

In the old edition, Akbar is referred to as a “wise and watchful administrator”. His religious policies were termed "liberal and tolerant". The 2017 edition, however, only has three lines that summarise his entire reign:

Akbar was the most powerful King of the Mughal dynasty. When he tried to bring India under his central authority, he faced opposition.
Role of Mughal emperors condensed to just a few paragraphs in the latest edition.
(Photo Courtesy: Ebalbharati)

What About Regional Kingdoms?

Not just the Mughals, the history of regional kingdoms have also been left out of the edition.

History of the Vijaynagar, Bahamani and the Rajput dynasties are given a passing mention, while the Chola dynasty and the Yadavas find no mention at all.
History of the Vijaynagar, Bahamani and the Rajput dynasties are given a passing mention, while the Chola dynasty and the Yadavas find no mention at all.
(Photo Courtesy: Ebalbharati)

Key events, like Muhammad bin Tughlaq's decision to shift his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, and Razia Sultan becoming the first woman to rule over Delhi, have been omitted from the revised text.

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Do students need to learn the history of the Marathas to understand Maharashtra and pre-Independence events better? Yes, they do. But can this only happen at the expense of other key historical events and figures? Can we afford to neglect the aspects of history that helped define India as we know it today?

(We all love to express ourselves, but how often do we do it in our mother tongue? Here's your chance! This Independence Day, khul ke bol with BOL – Love your Bhasha. Sing, write, perform, spew poetry – whatever you like – in your mother tongue. Send us your BOL at bol@thequint.com or WhatsApp it to 9910181818.)

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