Maharashtra Education Board Omits Mughal Empire From Its History Books

Abu'l-Fazl, one of the disciples of Din-i-Ilahi, presenting Akbarnama to Akbar
Abu'l-Fazl, one of the disciples of Din-i-Ilahi, presenting Akbarnama to AkbarWikimedia

We can still see the remnants of the Mughal empire across the country. In the arts, our culture, literature, architecture and language. The Mughal Empire is hailed as one of the greatest and prosperous, and like any other empire, with its own faults and follies. They hold an important place in our country’s history, having shaped a lot of what we are today.

Maybe it’s just a North Indian thing, because it seems that not everyone feels so. Atleast not enough to have them penned down in school history books. While they gave us the Taj Mahal that we pride ourselves for being one of the greats Wonders of the World, the Maharashtra State Education Board has removed chapters on the Mughals from the previously revised history textbook for class VII and IX. Not just the Mughals, in fact, Muslim rulers of the country before them too such as Razia Sultan, Delhi’s first female ruler of the Delhi sultanate, along with Muhammad bin Tughluq and the rupaya, currency introduced by Afghani invaders – a term still used today.

The focus has now shifted to the Maratha Empire and Shivaji, his family and the Maratha empire. Emperor Akbar, who was referred to in the previous textbook as a “liberal and tolerant administrator” is now being cited as having “tried to bring India under a central authority.” Shivaji, on the other hand, went from being the “People’s King” to “An Ideal Ruler” in the revised texts.

Students won’t be learning about the history of the Red Fort, the construction of the Qutab Minar or the architecture of the Taj Mahal. Bapusaheb Shinde, member of the history subject committee of the older and revised textbooks, told Mumbai Mirror last year that a meeting was held by State Education Minister Vinod Tawde at Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini, an RSS-promoted think-tank, to oversee and discuss the revision of the syllabus. “The need was felt to update history with modern events.The Mughal history has been reduced. Modern history needs to be incorporated,“ Shinde had said.

Sadanand More, chairman of the committee of the Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production and Curriculum Research, stated, “We have looked at history from a Maharashtra-centric point of view. Even if it is the Delhi Sultanate or the Mughal rule and the medieval history of India, we have kept Maharashtra at the centre. It is a natural course as we are from Maharashtra.What’s wrong in that? In fact the central board books have very little about our state.”

There isn’t anything wrong with that, his point of making history relevant and relatable, for lack of a better word, for Maharashtrian students. Add chapters about Shivaji, of course students should study about the Marathas and their history. But the Mughals are an important part of Indian history, in totality, how is that not relevant to Maharashtrian students as well? Is it because it was a different part of the country? Or has the governments attempt at saffronisation and eradication of all-things Islamic become this petty? So as to leave out massive chunks of the our nation’s part?

At the rate we’re going, no more will students learn about the beauty of poetry, or Emperor Akbar the Great’s promulgated religion Dīn-e Ilāhī that incorporated aspects of all religions. There’s nothing wrong with ‘updating’ syllabi with contemporary issues and happenings, but there are clear political undertones to this move that is undeniable. Not only that, but just plain wrong information. An independent researcher in curriculum and textbooks pointed his issue with the cover of the new Class VII textbook, calling it ‘problematic’; “It creates an image that the Hindu samrajya existed in India during that period, as the cover displays saffron flags all over the map of the country. This is factually incorrect and reeks of political agenda,“ Kishore Darak, the Pune-based researcher said.

We’ve previously pointed out glaring flaws in our textbooks, many of them made news and created waves themselves. Schools in UP being tested on blatand Hindutva propaganda and the complete omission and downplaying of historical figures points to a graver issue, and a grim future for India’s youth.

Click here to read the complete report by Mumbai Mirror.

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