The new version of the battle has created a storm in the state.
School students in Rajasthan are also being taught that Rajput warrior Maharana Pratap defeated the army of Mughal emperor Akbar in the Battle of Haldighati in 1576.
Academics are not amused. Historical evidence shows that Pratap, the ruler of the erstwhile Mewar region, fled the battlefield, although in the later years he continued his guerilla war against the Mughals. “In fact all heroes -- from Pratap to Prithviraj Chauhan -- that the RSS is projecting had lost conclusively. By twisting facts, one cannot re-write history,” said professor D N Jha, former member of Indian Council for Historical Research.
But Rajasthan education minister Vasudev Devnani says students will not read “distorted history.” Until last year, students of class 10 and 12 read Pratap had lost the battle.
“If Akbar’s armies won the battle then why did they return to the battlefield six times? There has been an attempt to downplay the role of our heroes,” Devnani said.
After the revision in class 10 schoolbooks, the University of Rajasthan’s (RU) History department has included a book that projects Rajput king Maharana Pratap as a victor in Haldigati. Education experts are calling these history “revisions” as Hinduisation of the country’s freedom struggle.
Last year, India’s first Prime Minister Nehru was erased from the class 8 textbook. The government says that Nehru has been given ample space in the class 9 textbook. “Every hero can’t be included in every book,” says Devnani.
The class 10 social science textbook also says that the first crop of Congress leaders wanted to prolong British rule in India because they felt the latter’s exit would lead to lawlessness in the country.
This narrative is taken a step further in the class 11 political science textbook. Here, the Congress party is described as a ‘nurtured baby’ of the British, and that it was established by the capitalists and representatives of the upper middle class.
In the class 10 book, Savarkar has been described as a great revolutionary, a great patriot, and a great ‘sangathanwaadi’ (organisation man). “The lifelong sacrifices he made for the country’s independence is beyond words,” says the textbook.
A chapter in the book on the torch bearers of the Indian independence movement lists them in the following order: Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Swami Vivekanand, Maharshi Arvind Ghosh, Mahatma Gandhi, Veer Savarkar, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, BR Ambedkar, Jawaharlal Nehru and Deendayal Upadhyay.
Commenting on the changes, Rajiv Gupta, retired professor of sociology at University of Rajasthan, says that those who supported the colonial empire and succumbed to it, like Savarkar, have been glorified in the revisions.