In its latest attempt to revise history, a high-level committee set by the National Council for Educational Research and Training has proposed to introduce ‘classical history’ in its textbooks instead of the present ‘ancient history’ — to “correct” the narratives about the country’s past.
Chairperson of the Committee, CI Issac, a retired history professor, has said the Committee has recommended highlighting “Hindu victories” in various battles since only “our failures are presently mentioned in the textbooks. But our victories over the Mughals and sultans are not”.
According to a Reuters report, in 2018, a committee under the chairmanship of KN Dikshit, Chairman of Indian Archaeological Society and former Joint Director General, Archaeological Survey of India, was “asked to present a report that will help the government rewrite certain aspects of ancient history.”
Former Minister for Culture, Mahesh Sharma, back in 2018, told Reuters that he expects the recommendations of this Committee to find their way into school textbooks and academic research. It looks like, they have — however preliminary the recommendations of NCERT are.
The Issac Committee has also proposed that textbooks should give equal space to all dynasties that ruled India. So, will the South Indian dynasties that have, for long been under-represented in the NCERT textbooks, finally find some space in the revised format, or will history continue to be told from the North-Indian perspective? Further explanations from the Issac committee on what will encompass ‘classical history’ will shed light on this matter.
Dravidian dynasties’ rich culture and immense contributions to art, architecture, government policy, trade, literature — through Sangam Literature and Bhakthi Movement, among others — have long been neglected by the NCERT.
A welcome move from the committee’s recommendations is to include, “new discoveries (historical, archaeological, among others) that keep happening in the country, in the syllabus.” One hopes the findings from Keezhadi, Adichanallur and Kodumanal get included in the ‘classical history’ textbooks.