There is a growing apprehension surrounding a concerted effort aimed at reshaping the curriculum in India to promote a singular cultural viewpoint while marginalizing diversity. This endeavor involves changing historical names associated with cities, roads, roundabouts, and buildings, replacing them with names that carry a Hindu connotation. This erases and manipulates the country’s rich historical legacy. Additionally, the syllabi are being modified to exclude references to Muslim rulers who once held power in India. This ongoing “name change spree” aligns with the broader agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), mentored by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), with the ultimate aim of transforming India into a Hindu Rashtra.
Aditya Mukherjee, an eminent Indian historian and former professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, has expressed concerns that when a particular community is systematically demonized, erased from history, and marginalized, these actions are often indicative of an impending genocide. The current drive to rename and expunge Muslim history in India serves as evidence of the Modi government’s extreme hostility toward Muslims. State-sponsored policies perpetuate communal biases, leading to a situation where Sangh Parivar terrorists assault minorities, particularly Muslims, with impunity. Troublingly, even state institutions, including the judiciary, often side with the incumbent government, despite the head of state’s admission of involvement in the Gujarat pogrom against Muslims. Dissenting voices that challenge the RSS and BJP narrative are being stifled, creating a climate of intimidation and suppression. Both organizations actively promote the slogan coined by V D Savarkar, “Hindu, Hindi, Hindustan,” which seeks to forge an exclusive Hindu identity within India. Recent incidents, such as the shooting of former Member of Parliament Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf by RSS activists in the presence of journalists and while under police custody, highlight the dangerous consequences of this saffronization drive.
Notably, Christians and Dalits have also become targets of violence and discrimination, with perpetrators acting with impunity. Tragically, instances such as the suicide of Rahit Vimula, a promising PhD scholar from Hyderabad University who could no longer bear the discrimination he faced, serve as poignant reminders of the deep-rooted biases and prejudices prevalent within society. In his suicide note, Rahit Vimula laments that his birth itself was a fatal accident, attributing it to the systemic discrimination faced by Dalits. Furthermore, the invaluable contributions of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, a Dalit leader who played a pivotal role in shaping India’s constitution, are being undermined and marginalized due to his communal background.
In a concerning turn of events, references to significant figures such as Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a former president of the All India Congress party and India’s first education minister, have been removed from a political science textbook published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). Additionally, mentions of Jammu and Kashmir’s conditional accession to India under Article 370 have been expunged, despite the Modi government’s revocation of Article 370 in August 2019. This deliberate distortion of the curriculum extends to textbooks across various social science subjects, as references to the 2002 Gujarat riots, where thousands of Muslims lost their lives, have been deliberately omitted. Similarly, any mention of the Godhra riots and the subsequent victimization of Muslims by RSS and Bajrang Dal terrorists during the tenure of Narendra Modi as the Chief Minister of Gujarat has been scrubbed from the textbooks. Shockingly, references to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, along with his post-independence efforts, have also been removed from the political science textbook for class 11. Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, was a militant affiliated with the RSS. Furthermore, a crucial reference to the temporary ban on the RSS following Gandhi’s assassination in 1948 has been eliminated from NCERT textbooks for Grades 11 and 12.
The magnitude of these alterations extends beyond mere omissions and deletions. Several pages detailing the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire, including their art, architecture, and remarkable historical achievements, have been entirely removed from the textbooks. The rich cultural heritage associated with the medieval period of India, encompassing the mosques built during the reigns of the Delhi sultans, Mughals, and Deccan sultans, as well as the gardens and forts that stand as testaments to that era, has been expunged from the educational materials. Disturbingly, one textbook even asserts that the Mughal Emperor Akbar did not emerge victorious in the Haldighati battle fought against Maharana Pratap in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district on June 18, 1576.
These concerted efforts to reshape the curriculum and textbooks have provoked widespread concern as they are seen as deliberate attempts to erase diverse historical narratives and impose a singular communal ideology. The ramifications of these actions have the potential to exacerbate communal tensions and sow seeds of hatred and division in the future. It is crucial to recognize the importance of preserving historical accuracy and upholding the principles of inclusivity, diversity, and respect for all communities in the education system as they play a vital role in nurturing a harmonious and progressive society.