"This is an old charge which keeps surfacing now
and then," wrote one of those "eminent historians", K. N. Panikkar,
in an vituperative response to an article of mine -- the charge that
close to two crores had been spent on the "Towards Freedom" project
of the Indian Council of Historical Project, and little had been
achieved. "About a year back Times of India carried a front page
story on this. The historians had then clarified through a public
statement published in several newspapers, that they have not drawn
any money from the ICHR and that they worked for five years purely
in an honorary capacity. When he [that is, me] gets the information
from the ministry, if he does, that the editors have not taken any
money, I would normally expect Shourie to tender a public apology.
But given the intellectual honesty and cultural level reflected in
his article, I do not think it would be forthcoming. The alternative
of suing for defamation the likes of Shourie is below one's dignity.
But I do expect at least the ministry to make a public statement on
the factual position."
Strong stuff, and definitive, one would think. It
turns out that on 17 July, 1998, in answer to a question tabled in
the Rajya Sabha, the Ministry stated that only one part of the
project has been completed and published since the original volume
of Dr. P. N. Chopra. This is the volume -- in three parts -- by Dr.
Partha Sarthi Gupta covering 1943-44. In answer to another question,
the Ministry has reported that "After publication of the Volume he
was paid an honorarium of Rs. 25,000 in September, 1997."
Dr. Partha Sarthi Gupta, in other words, is the one
editor who has completed the work which he had undertaken. For that
he has been paid Rs. 25,000. The others have not completed the work
they had undertaken, they have therefore not been paid the Rs.
25,000 which are to be paid to them only when their volumes are
completed and published. That is how they go about proclaiming
themselves to be social workers -- we have been working in an
honorary capacity, we have not taken a penny !
And as bits and pieces about the ICHR at last start
trickling out, we learn that the "Towards Freedom" project isn't the
only one on which large amounts have been spent and which has not
been completed. There is an "Economic History of India Project." Rs.
1,955,000 have been spent on it. Nothing has been published as
a result. Though, the Ministry told the Rajya Sabha that "according
to the information furnished by the ICHR," two volumes of the
project -- on Railways and Agriculture -- are "ready for the press".
The Ministry also told the Rajya Sabha that
"Professor Bipin Chandra was sanctioned a sum of Rs. 75,000 during
1987-88 for the assignment entitled 'A History of the Indian
National Congress'. A sum of Rs. 57,500 has been released to
him till 23-6-1989. The remaining balance of Rs. 17,500 is yet to be
released because a formal manuscript in this regard is yet to be
received." In a word, spare readers this social-worker stance --
"doing all this in a strictly honorary capacity". It is as if Bipin
Chandra were to go about saying, "See, I have not even taken the Rs.
17,500 which the ICHR still owes me." And do not miss that effort
from the ICHR to help to the extent possible -- "The remaining
balance of Rs. 17,500 is yet to be released because a formal
manuscript in this regard is yet to be received." Does that mean
that some "informal" manuscript has been received, or that no
manuscript has been received?
As newspapers and magazines such as Outlook had
done, Panikkar had concocted his conspiracy theory on the charge
that the BJP Government had changed the word "Rational" into
"National", and that it had suppressed three of the five objectives
of the ICHR by changing the Memorandum of Association of the ICHR. I
had reproduced relevant paragraphs from the Resolutions to show that
the same wording had continued for at least twenty years. I had
given the numbers and dates of the Resolutions. I had also reported
that I had requested the Secretary of the Ministry to help ascertain
the year since which the same wording had continued. And what was
the response of this "eminent" historian who, as he said, writes
signed articles in publications of the Communist Party "because I
believe in the ideals it stands for"? "Even if Shourie's contention
is true (unlike Shourie who is a BJP MP, a resident of Delhi elected
from UP, I have no means to ascertain from the Ministry)..."
That is a much favoured stance: when caught
peddling a lie, insinuate that the other fellow is privileged! And
that as you are from the working masses, you cannot ascertain
whether the facts he has stated are true. Therefore, what you stated
must stand as fact -- Q.E.D. !
Exactly the same dodge was used a day or so later
by another of these progressives. Manoj Raghuvanshi had invited K.
M. Shrimali and me to discuss on Zee Television's Aap ki Adalat the
charge that history was being rewritten in communal colours.
Raghuvanshi read out what Outlook had reported -- that the West
Bengal Board of Secondary Education had issued instructions in 1989
that "Muslim rule should never attract any criticism. Destruction of
temples by Muslim rulers and invaders should not be mentioned."
Raghuvanshi asked Shrimali, whether this did not
amount to distortion? True, that was a painful period of our
history, Raghuvanshi said, but should it be erased from our history
books? Would that be objective, rational history? Shrimali's
response was the well-practised script : firstly, he did not know
that such an instruction was ever issued; if it was issued, he said,
he was against it; but one must see what the context was in which
the instruction had been issued...
Concerned teachers in West Bengal have been so kind
as to send me the circular relating to textbooks for class IX. Dated
28 April, 1989, it is issued by the West Bengal Secondary Board. It
is in Bengali, and carries the number "Syl/89/1".
"All the West Bengal Government recognised
secondary school Headmasters are being informed," it begins, "that
in History textbooks recommended by this Board for Class IX the
following amendments to the chapter on the medieval period have been
decided after due discussions and review by experts." "
"The authors and publishers of Class IX History
textbooks," it continues, "are being requested to incorporate the
amendments if books published by them have these aushuddho
[impurities, errors] in all subsequent editions, and paste a
corrigendum in books which have already been published. A copy of
the book with the corrigendum should be deposited with the Syllabus
Office (74, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road, Calcutta -- 16)." Signed,
The accompanying pages contain two columns :
aushuddho -- impurity, or error -- and shuddho. One has just to
glance through the changes to see the objective the progressives are
trying to achieve through their "objective", "rational" approach to
the writing of history. Here are some of the changes.
Book : Bharat Katha, prepared by the Burdwan
Education Society, Teachers Enterprise, published by Sukhomoy
Page 140 : Aushuddho -- "In Sindhudesh the
Arabs did not describe Hindus as Kafir. They had banned
Shuddho -- "Delete, 'They had banned
Page 141 : Aushuddho -- "Fourthly, using force
to destroy Hindu temples was also an expression of aggression.
Fifthly, forcibly marrying Hindu women and converting them to
Islam before marriage was another way to propagate the
fundamentalism of the ulema."
Shuddho : though the column
reproduces the sentences only from "Fourthly....", the Board
directs that the entire matter from "Secondly.... to ulema" be
Page 141 : Aushuddho -- The logical,
philosophical, materialist Mutazilla disappeared. On the one hand,
the fundamentalist thinking based on the Quran and the Hadis...."
Shuddho -- "Delete, 'On the one hand, the fundamentalist
thinking based on the Quran and the Hadis'...."
Book : Bharatvarsher Itihash, by Dr. Narendranath
Bhattacharya, published by Chakravarty and Son...
Page 89 : Aushuddho -- "Sultan Mahmud used
force for widespread murder, loot, destruction and conversion."
Shuddho -- "There was widespread loot and destruction by
Mahmud." That is, no reference to killing, no reference to
Page 89 : Aushuddho -- "He looted valuables
worth 2 crore dirham from the Somnath temple and used the Shivling
as a step leading up to the masjid in Ghazni."
"Delete 'and used the Shivling as a step leading up to the masjid
Page 112 : Aushuddho -- "Hindu-Muslim relations
of the medieval ages is a very sensitive issue. The non- believers
had to embrace Islam or death."
Shuddho -- All matter on pages
112-13 to be deleted.
Page 113 : Aushuddho -- "According to Islamic
law non-Muslims will have to choose between death and Islam. Only
the Hanafis allow non-Muslims to pay jaziya in exchange for their
Shuddho -- Rewrite this as follows : "By paying jaziya
to Allauddin Khilji, Hindus could lead normal lives." Moreover,
all the subsequent sentences "Qazi...", "Taimur's arrival in
India..." to be deleted.
Book : Bharuter Itihash, by Shobhankar
Chattopadhyaya, published by Narmada Publishers.
Book : Itihasher Kahini, by Nalini Bhushan
Dasgupta, published by B. B. Kumar.
Page 132 : Aushuddho -- According to Todd [the
famous chronicler of Rajasthan annals] the purpose behind
Allauddin's Chittor expedition was to secure Rana Rattan Singh's
beautiful wife, Padmini."
Shuddho -- Delete.
Page 154 : Aushuddho -- "As dictated by Islam,
there were three options for non-Muslims : get yourself converted
to Islam; pay jaziya; accept death. In an Islamic State
non-Muslims had to accept one of these three options."
Page 161 : Aushuddho -- "The early Sultans were
eager to expand the sway of Islam by forcibly converting Hindus
Shuddho -- Delete.
Book : Bharuter Itihash, by P. Maiti, Sreedhar
Page 117 : Aushuddho -- "There is an account
that Allauddin attacked the capital of Mewar, Chittorgarh, to get
Padmini, the beautiful wife of Rana Rattan Singh."
Page 139 : Ashuddho -- "There was a sense of
aristocratic superiority in the purdah system. That is why
upper-class Hindus adopted this system from upper-class Muslims.
Another opinion has it that purdah came into practice to save
Hindu women from Muslims. Most probably, purdah came into vogue
because of both factors."
Shuddho -- delete.
The most extensive deletions are ordered in regard
to the chapter on "Aurangzeb's policy on religion". Every allusion
to what he actually did to the Hindus, to their temples, to the very
leitmotif of his rule -- to spread the sway of Islam -- are directed
to be excised from the book. He is to be presented as one who had an
aversion -- an ordinary sort of aversion, almost a secular one -- to
music and dancing, to the presence of prostitutes in the Court, and
that it is these things he banished. The only allusion to his having
done anything in regard to Islam which is allowed to remain is that
"By distancing himself from Akbar's policy of religious tolerance
and policy of equal treatment, Aurangzeb caused damage to Mughal
Book : Swadesho Shobhyota, by Dr. P. K. Basu and S.
B. Ghatak, Abhinav Prakashan.
Page 126 : Ashuddho -- "Some people believe
that Allauddin's Mewar expedition was to get hold of Padmini, the
wife of Rana Rattan Singh." Shuddho -- Delete.
Page 145 : Ashuddho -- "Apart from this,
because Islam used extreme inhuman means to establish itself in
India, this became an obstacle for the coming together of Indian
and Islamic cultures." Shuddho -- Delete.
Book : Bharat Katha, by G. Bhattacharya, Bulbul
Page 40 : Ashuddho -- "Muslims used to take
recourse to torture and inhuman means to force their religious
beliefs and practices on Indians." Shuddho -- Delete.
Page 41 : Ashuddho -- "The liberal, humane
elements in Islam held out hope for oppressed Hindus." Shuddho --
The entire paragraph beginning with "the caste system among
Hindus.... was attacked" is to be deleted. Instead write, "There
was no place for casteism in Islam. Understandably, the influence
of Islam created an awakening among Hindus against caste
discrimination. Lower caste oppressed Hindus embraced Islam."
Page 77 : Ashuddho -- "His main task was to
oppress non-believers, especially Hindus." Shuddho -- This and the
preceding sentence to be deleted.
Book : Bharuter Itihash, by A. C. Roy, published by
Page 102 : Ashuddho -- "There is an account
that Allauddin attacked Chittor to get the beautiful wife of Rana
Rattan Singh, Padmini." Shuddho -- Delete.
Page 164 : Ashuddho -- "It was his commitment
to Islam which made him a fundamentalist." Shuddho --
Book : Bharut Kahini, by G. C. Rowchoudhury,
published by A. K. Sarkar and Co.
Page 130 : Ashuddho -- "That is why he adopted
the policy of converting Hindus to Islam -- so as to increase the
number of Muslims. Those Hindus who refused to discard their
religion were indiscriminately massacred by him or his generals."
Shuddho -- Delete.
In a word, no forcible conversions, no massacres,
no destruction of temples. Just that Hinduism had created an
exploitative, casteist society. Islam was egalitarian. Hence the
oppressed Hindus embraced Islam !
Muslim historians of those times are in raptures at
the heap of Kafirs who have been dispatched to hell. Muslim
historians are forever lavishing praise on the ruler for the temples
he has destroyed, for the hundreds of thousands he has got to see
the light of Islam. Law books like The Hedaya prescribe exactly the
options to which these little textbooks alluded. All whitewashed
Objective whitewash for objective history. And
today if anyone seeks to restore truth to these textbooks, the
scream, "Communal rewriting of history."
But there isn't just whitewash of Islam. For after
Islam came another great emancipatory ideology -- Marxism- Leninism.
The teachers furnish extracts from the textbook for
".... in Russia, China, Vietnam, Cuba and in
other East European countries, the workers and peasants are ruling
the country after capturing power, whereas in U.S.A., England,
France and Germany the owners of mills and factories are ruling
".... after the Revolution in Russia the first
exploitation-free society was established."
".... Islam and Christianity are the only
religions which treated man with honour and
Thus, not just whitewash, there is hogwash too.