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.
It is very sad that the spirit of perverting history to suit political views is no longer confined to politicians, but has definitely spread even among professional historians.
The children of our country are being lied to. Millions of impressionable young minds are being trained to hate, loathe and despise upon their ancestors, culture and country. Seeds of mutual suspicion are being sown in their minds. Caste, geography, religion, gender and all other social and cultural markers are being used to cast our children into mutually antagonistic identities. Our children’s mind space is the battleground where the enemy, from within, is staging an uncontested victory, and destroying us, without us even realising the existence of this belligerent front.
This war is being fought through lies. These lies are being presented as history through textbooks that are compulsory for students. The NCERT history textbooks, read and internalised by millions of children every year,are supposed to be the product of the highest academic quality and honesty. Butin this case, the ‘expert historian’ has been quietly replaced by a propagandist. The propagandist unashamedly plays havoc with our history. Instead of facts, he uses all the propaganda techniques in creating a fiction, which he then passes on to our children as the ‘authoritative’ history sanctioned by the Indian State. The principal technique used in these NCERT history textbooks is to lie and lie big. Instead of teaching historical assertions based on facts, this propagandist tries to create a picture of our past based on hearsay, conjectures and obviously, outright lies. The NCERT history writers showcase their masterful skills in using propaganda techniques likead nauseam: appeal to authority, appeal to prejudice, bandwagon, big lie, cherry picking, classical conditioning, disinformation, euphemism, exaggeration, glittering generalities, guilt by association, half-truths, intentional vagueness, labelling, loaded language, oversimplification, testimonial, third party technique, unstated assumption, thought-terminating cliché, and transfer or association.And, the target of this seasoned propagandist is an innocent and trustful child. This child must read these books cover to cover; remember the ‘facts’; appear in examinations based on these; and in the process internalise the contents as the true depiction of our past and culture. For seven years- from class VI to class XII, which are also the most impressionable years of a child’s schooling- this conditioning takes place.
The objective of this book is to expose these lies. In every instance mentioned in this book, we juxtapose the NCERT history and the historical facts. Unlike the speculation and conjecture-driven NCERT history writing, our endeavor is to, in each and every instance, give the actual and original historical text and reference.
Errors by design
Books, like any other human creation, are susceptible to errors due to the fallibility of humans. Modern science accepts this shortcoming of human beings and has consequently designed methods to minimise the possibility of errors during experiments. One of the most widely accepted methods is making a large number of calculations and then using the average value to be the true value of the quantity to be measured. The basic assumption behind this method is that errors are random in nature, that is, for a large number of values, if a few experimenters err on the positive side then there will be some who will err on the negative side. Therefore, when a large number of such values are averaged, the errors of the opposite sides will cancel out each other.
Had the distortions of NCERT books been of the same random nature, there would have been no need to write this book. The scrutiny of the entire content, from class 6thto class 12th, shows that the version of history being presented in these books is tilted heavily against one side: of India’s ancient heritage, religion, culture, social leaders, scriptures and even its language.
Earlier, whenever there was a hue and cry regarding distortions in history books, it pertained to something spectacular or sensational like ‘Bhagat Singh was a terrorist’. Such distortions are easy to spot and easier to get rectified through judicial process. At the same time, such instances highlight that there are individuals and institutions that have a vested interest in presenting a biased version of history to the students of our country. The distortions in the present history books are not spectacular, but insidious.
Like most people, we held the general impression that NCERT, a reputable educational and academic institution, entrusted with the important task of writing the history textbooks would work in a non-partisan and diligent manner. It is an unstated assumption that the best brains of the country are chosen and paid out of tax payers’ money to do a thorough and honest job of history writing.
Primarily, it was this impression that made it difficult to point an accusing finger on a prestigious institution. When inconsistencies were found in the history textbooks, it was assumed that the assertions of NCERT are correct and doubts regarding their truthfulness, in allprobability, are just doubts. To be doubly sure, applications were filed under RTI (Right to Information) Act, in which copies of original documents and evidences were sought from the Department of Social Sciences of the NCERT. More than 100 RTI applications were submitted to the Council, seeking documentary proof for their assertions. Surprisingly, response to all the applications was that the NCERT did not possess any records or evidences on the basis of which the books have been written.
We were not sure about the reason for this stonewalling by the NCERT. It could have been due to typical bureaucratic lethargy or arrogance. Or, was it that we were asking uncomfortable questions? To find this out, it was decided to compare the contents of history textbooks with actual historical records. Shockingly, the gaps between the both were appalling, and too numerous to be ignored. When these anomalies were brought to the notice of the Council through representations, no one bothered to respond. As the research went deeper and wider, a pattern started emerging that indicated that the distortions are neither random nor unintentional. Every lie, distortion, speculation, and conjecture that the NCERT authors employ in manufacturing the Indian history has a well-designed objective. It builds a false narrative for the gullible students to absorb and imbibe in their psyche. The message, though subtle and executed by masters of deception, is yet very clear. It depicts an Indian society, culture and religions drenched in misogyny, discrimination, cruelty, imperialism, inequality and superstition. India is shown as a disjointed and artificial entity consisting of historically antagonistic social and cultural entities.
The gravest victim of this malicious NCERT propaganda is Ancient India.Its social structure and scriptures are depicted as primitive, exploitative, misogynist, regressive and inhuman. All the pillars on which the Indian civilization has survived and thrived have been systematically delegitimised, underplayed and pilloried. To undermine the grand narrative of India, its language, scriptures, intellectuals, kings and heritage have been derided by unbridled use of propaganda tools.
In contrast to the Indian heritage, foreign invaders and their religions are presented in glowing terms; and again, this is donein contravention of genuine historical records or factual analysis. Instead of a realistic and balanced view of the interactions between the indigenous and foreign cultures, the NCERT authors expunge contribution of the Indic society from records. They posit Indic culture and religion as subservient and inferior to the imperialistic foreign rulers’.NCERT authors’ lies force our children to internalise that if ever anything good happened in the country or if it ever achieved anything positive, it was all a contribution of foreigners. In fact, foreign invaders who were responsible for unmitigating misery on our ancestors have been depicted as redeemers of society.In several instances where the NCERT authors don’t employ lies or conjectures or speculation, their tone and slant does the trick.
The underlying pattern
In this book a sincere effort has been made not only to catalogue the NCERT’s lies and distortions, but also share with readers the underlying patterns and message of NCERT history textbooks.The defining characteristic of the current set of NCERT history textbooks is their underlying messages, patterns and themes running throughout the content. The purpose of which a believing mind may not be able to discern. The structure of this book is weaved around exposing these messages, patterns and themes.
To present these findings, we have divided the content into eight chapters. These chapters are not watertight compartments as many passages in the NCERT books have content that simultaneously targets more than one aspect of India’s past.
Chapter 1 – Breaking the Geographical Contiguity
In this chapter,many subtle propaganda techniques used by the NCERT are highlighted. These techniques are used to create a perception that India has been just a geographical region with no unity underpinning its existence. We focus on how the NCERT employs outright lies, quoting historical personalities out of context and selective portrayals of historical events. It is done to indoctrinate the children into believing that India is an artificial construct, created only recently. We unwrap, step by step, the historical facts and examine original historical writings, which the NCERT has quoted selectively and also out of context.
Chapter 2 – Uprooting the linguistic heritage
The attack on Sanskrit language is pervasive in all the NCERT history textbooks, but it is very subtle. In this attack, the NCERT authors have primarily employed the propaganda technique of Association. Each and every time the Council authors mention Sanskrit in the textbooks it is associated with a negative concept like misogyny, colonialism, exploitation and inequality. It is presented as a language of colonialists imposed on the natives and local languages. It is shown as an exclusivist language, used by Brahmans for exploiting the ‘natives’.
Chapter 3 – Breaking the civilizational contiguity
The Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT), manufactured by the British in 18th century, is the bedrock on which the antagonistic divisions in the Indian society are created and in which the divisive identity politics takes roots. The AIT has been dumped even by most of its former vociferous supporters. But, the NCERT authors insert the AIT in the textbooks and base several other of their historical narratives on the AIT. These authors at no place directly outline or explain the AIT; instead, they either selectively quote individuals from the 18th and the 19th centuries (primarily, social activists sponsored or supported by British at the time) or build a historical narrative, which pre-supposes the AIT. The children are forced to assume and accept that an ‘Aryan’ invasion took place at some point of time in our history. We examine such insertions in the light of the latest scientific discoveries in the field.
Chapter 4 – Distorting the legacy
The NCERT history writers attack all Hindu scriptures and literature like Ved, Mahabharat, and Ramayan.The two epics --Ramayan and Mahabharat-- are trivialised, their message ridiculed and their authenticity rebuffed. But, the severest NCERT attack is on the Vedic corpus. It is presented as an imperialistic tool in the hands of Brahmans to demean and disenfranchise the native population. We examine the actual Vedic texts to find out whether the NCERT propaganda can stand the test of facts.
All the virtues of the Indic civilization are transplanted as invaders’ attributes. The viciousness and exploitative nature of foreign rulers, and the creeds they subscribe to, are passed off asinnate depravity of the Indic culture. For instance, slavery, which is institutionalised in Abrahamic religions, is presented as an intrinsic trait of ancient India.
Chapter 5 – The wicked Indian kings and the emancipating invaders
The contrasting portrayal of Indic kings and foreign rulers in different periods of Indian history is a stark example of the NCERT history writers’ ‘bias for anything Indian. Ignoring facts, and the large corpus of authentic historical texts, these writers, first, omit most of the Indian kings from their pages and next, present them as war-mongers, always busy in destroying each other. Following this narrative, NCERT history writers then present the foreign invaders, primarily the Muslim Turkic and Mughal regimes, as benevolent and just. Indian kingdoms spread over large areas and time period are reduced to a mere footnote in history, while smaller foreign kingdoms, sometimes even those limited to a city or a single individual, are presented as empires. These writers club several foreign rulers, whose rule individually lasted for an average of 10-20years, into one Sultanate period.
Chapter 6 – Indic traditions oppress women
Indic traditions celebrate a supreme power that is Ardhnarishwar, and the same cosmology permeates the worldly relations. ‘Ardhangini’ captures the essence of Indic view about women. This tradition envisages men and women as complimentary, and not competitors. This approach can offer a pragmatic alternative to the current confrontational discourse on feminism. Yet, the NCERT authors portray Indic traditions to be misogynist.
Chapter 7 – Dividing population into hostile groups
The message to the children is very clear and is repeated again and again – India comprises several antagonistic social groups classified in terms of tribes, castes, races and classes. All these different social groups have always been at war with each other. In doing this, NCERT history writers reverse the actual historical narrative where the local social groups have always come together to defeat the foreign imperialistic powers. The contribution of different social groups in standing up to aggressive and exclusivist foreign cultures is totally ignored by the NCERT writers.
Chapter 8: The Evil Brahmans
The NCERT historical narrative castigates ’upper castes’, especially Brahmans, as the diabolical villain of the Indian history. They, in league with Kshatriyas, are painted as progenitors of the discriminatory caste system, women victimisation, cultural hegemony and marginalisation of the different sections of Indian society. In this chapter we examine whether the historical facts substantiate NCERT authors’ vilification of Brahmans. We discover that the NCERT authors are merely following the colonial practice of demonising the Brahman, and making sweeping generalisations against a social group without any factual basis in history.
What about errors of omission
Writing history books of a nation like India, which has millennia-old existence as an entity, is a tough job. It becomes tougher when we take into account the vastness and plurality of the country. However, that cannot be an excuse for shoddy history writing or a version of history that negates the predominant historical, social and cultural ethos. A nation’s history is supposed to be weaved around its grand narrative. It does include subgroups and different sections of the nation, butthese are always included in the composite history rather than presented as divisive elements haivng distinct pasts. The current NCERT books present a version that is antithetical to it. What is included in history textbooks is as important as what is excluded.
Since this book is aimed at unraveling the NCERT narrative, we are forced to draw the attention of the readers towards only those errors that have been committed by NCERT authors. Thus the errors of commission have been discussed whereas the errors of omission have been left out although they are far more numerous than the former.
Prism of Religion
Another effect of this limitation is the disproportionate emphasis on religion. The NCERT books are designed through the prism of religion; whether discussing socio-cultural aspects or the behaviour of the rulers. As a result, secular aspects take a back seat and the overarching narrative is weaved around religion.
In a sense, these books not only contravene the ethical code of historians, but also run counter to the constitution of India. The constitution talks of ‘Unity and integrity of the Nation’ and emphasises on ‘harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India, transcending religious, linguistic and regional diversities’. Unfortunately, in the NCERT books the message is diametrically opposite, contradicting not only the historical facts, but also the ideals enshrined in the Constitution. As a result, we have been forced to write the critique through the same prism. It will be appropriate to say that the contents of this book are dictated by the content of NCERT history books.