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Are young Indians reading the right history?

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Manisha Sarade
Student at National Law University, Mumbai.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a Russian historian and political prisoner, wrote in the The Gulag Archipelago, “Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.”

This is, in nutshell, the crux of Marxism. To discover how universal has been the influence of Marxism in history writing, one can take a look at the works of noted Indian historians: the common reads that we come across daily, in our book shelves, our Kindles, the ones we applaud, the ones we suggest as great reads to others, and the ones we trust for History references. How reliable are they, really? The Soviet books, brochures and numerous journals and newspapers kept on arriving in India for decades. It is important to note that their theoretical and applied value used to be always very critical and conclusive for our Marxists writers. Hence, the Indian Marxists have certainly gained ample teachings from them. 

The Indian Marxist historians have time and again fed millions of Indian students and readers with false facts for the solitary purpose of fulfilling the contemporary desires of communist politics in this country. Most of them represent the same enchanted tale of the incredible development of the Soviet Union due to the Communist Revolution, its remarkable achievements and the USSR as the “best democracy” in the world (See ‘Vishva Itihas ki Bhumika’ by Prof R.S. Sharma). On one hand our historians praised the Soviet accomplishments beyond belief; and on the other hand, they totally sidestepped all the horrid and dark facts of the Soviet history, just to ensure that a decent impression should be left in the minds of Indian readers about the communist theory and leadership.

To give another illustration, in Bipin Chandra, Amalesh Tripathy, and Barun De’s book, ‘Freedom Struggle’, there is not even a slight reference to key events like the two-nation theory of the Muslim League, its resolution demanding a partition of India, the backing given to it by the Communist Party of India and the record violence by the Muslim League against Hindus. In fact, the partition of India has been mentioned in this book in an indirect manner imputing it on some “communal forces”. What is baffling, is the fact that even primary school textbooks are not free from attempts of underplaying religious bigotry and tyranny of Islamists. What about the long-lasting impression young Indians will get from such a book? And of course, the least said about the chronology of historical events of NCERT Textbooks, the better.

Such history writing raises a question on its academic value, and hints towards an appalling influence on the mind of young readers, who consider these popular books as the primary source of their history learning. Many are a part of the curriculum, created and published by the State: textbooks which are precisely prescribed, explained by teachers & professors in classes and used by students to prepare for examinations. Given its dominant role in education and in legitimizing selected knowledge, those who control, regulate and determine textbook content are in positions of massive power (and responsibility). However, if such construction of history continues to exist, learning, especially the informing of ideas and building belief systems through textbooks, will reduce to a matter of political interest.

Certainly, it remains an intended fabrication of history, guided by vested interests, which continues to influence education in institutes of higher learning in India, where violent behaviour in the form of protests and such tendencies are gradually becoming a part of the common campus lifestyle.

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Manisha Sarade
Student at National Law University, Mumbai.

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