The Congress government in Rajasthan has made several changes related to historical events and personalities in textbooks for students in schools affiliated to the state board, The Indian Express reported on Friday. The Ashok Gehlot-led state administration rolled back decisions taken by the previous National Democratic Alliance government on the basis of the recommendations of a textbook review committee set up on February 13.

One of the biggest changes, as reported last month, is the removal of Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s honorific “Veer” in the Class 12 history book. It describes how Savarkar sent the British four mercy petitions when he was in Cellular Jail in Andaman, and allegedly called himself the “son of Portugal” in his second plea on November 14, 1911.

The chapter narrates that Savarkar campaigned to make India a “Hindu Rashtra” and coined the slogan “Hinduise politics, militarise Hindudom”. The Hindutva ideologue opposed the Quit India movement in 1942 and the creation of Pakistan in 1946, the textbook teaches students, and mentions his trial in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination case. However, it notes that Savarkar was acquitted of the charges.

The description of the battle of Haldighati between King of Mewar Maharana Pratap and Mughal Emperor Akbar has also been modified in the Class 10 social science book. While the chapter earlier stated that Akbar failed in his objectives of capturing and killing Pratap, and conquering his entire kingdom, it now ends with Pratap leaving the battlefield and the death of his horse Chetak. It also mentions that the fight between the two sides was not a religious war but a clash for superiority between two political forces. Unlike the previous description, which said Pratap came out on top after Haldighati as Akbar’s forces did not follow the army of Mewar, the modified chapter describes Pratap’s guerrilla warfare against Akbar in the years following the battle.

The textbook review committee has removed all references to demonetisation from the Class 12 political science book. Earlier, it was described as a campaign to remove black money from the system, and students were taught of the impact of demonetisation on corruption and foreign policy.

The political science textbook earlier mentioned only Islamic organisations such as Jamaat-e-Islam, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul and SIMI in a chapter titled “Casteism and Communalism”. Now, the Hindu Mahasabha has also been added to the list of political groups that propagate divisive ideas for self-interest. A chapter in the book earlier mentioned Pakistan’s anti-India policy, or jihad, among the problems affecting bilateral relations. Now, the word “jihad” has been removed, Times Now reported.

The updated history textbook for Class 12 students argues that there is no historical evidence of many incidents described in Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s literary work Padmaavat, according to which Alauddin Khilji attacked Chittor with the aim of getting queen Padmini.

History was distorted, says education minister

“We formed a committee of educationists and found mistakes in several such textbooks including cases where history was distorted and presented,” State Education Minister Govind Singh Dotasara told The Indian Express. “We don’t have any political agenda in it. We made the changes according to the report of the committee.” The minister accused the previous BJP government of deliberately changing the syllabus formulated by the National Council of Educational Research and Training to impose the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Former education minister and BJP MLA Vasudev Devnani accused the Congress of insulting revolutionaries. “They have never let the history of revolutionaries come in the light,” he alleged. “They serve only one family and they believe that Subhash Chandra Bose, Veer Savarkar, Dr Rajendra Prasad, if the history of these people come out, then the stature of Nehru and the Gandhi family will fall.”

Devnani questioned how Savarkar could be described as the son of Portugal. “How is this possible?” he asked. “Savarkar was given life sentence twice and was tortured inside the Cellular Jail. Has any Congressman had to tolerate such punishment? To insult such a person is extremely shameful. This is in their nature but all these great men will remain in our hearts.”

Also read:

  1. BJP’s major achievement in Rajasthan: Rewriting school textbooks to reflect RSS worldview
  2. Inspired by the RSS, dictated by BJP minister: The inside story of Rajasthan’s textbook revisions
  3. Rajasthan teachers tried – and failed – to counter textbooks rewritten to serve Hindutva propaganda