"Students, how would you go about drawing a map of India? Do you know that countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Burma are part of undivided India? These countries are part of Akhand Bharat." Tejomay Bharat (Shining India) by Dinanath Batra.
Tejomay India (Shining India) is just one of six of Batra's books made "must read" by education ministry for students at all of 42,000 primary and secondary schools in the State of Gujarat, the home of India's Hindu Nationalist prime minister Mr. Narendra Modi.
Batra, the man who oversaw revisions in Indian history textbooks for the country's National Council of Education, Research and Training (NCERT), recently forced Penguin India to recall and destroy all copies of "The Hindus: An Alternative History" by University of Chicago scholar Wendy Doniger published by Penguin Books about 5 years ago. Explaining his opposition to Doniger's book, Batra told Time magazine: "The entire book is objectionable, but yes, that is one of our main objections. She is insulting our gods and goddesses and religious leaders and texts and even our freedom fighters. I don't have any objection to sex and neither does our religion, as long as it's within the parameters of religion."
Batra shares something in common with Nigeria's Boko Haram for his vehement opposition to western education. He calls western-educated Indians "children of Marx and Macaulay" who are "defaming Hinduism", according to India's First Post. He also feels that there is no need for English language education and instead advocates the teaching of Sanskrit to students along with a an emphasis on the mother tongue ("with 20 percent for Sanskrit") with Hindi as a second language.
Hindu nationalists have been battling scholars over history for decades. They tried to do in California what their Indian counterparts have already done in India. They attempted to change California history textbooks in 2006, when they argued unsuccessfully to include their claims like the indigenous origins of Aryans and tried to deny the terrible impact on hundreds of millions of Indians of the caste system and misogyny prevalent in Hindu texts and Aryan culture. Hundreds of history scholars from US and South Asia helped defeat this attempt by Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and its allies in the United States.
India's textbooks suffer from many problems ranging from deliberate distortions to outright incompetence. The errors range from misspelling "Suez" Canal as "Sewage" Canal and referring to Africans as N---ers" to false stories of India's Muslim rulers' atrocities on Hindus.
With regard to anti-Muslim propaganda in Indian textbooks, Dr. D.N. Pande, author of "History in the Service of Imperialism", summarized his conclusions in a lecture to members of the Rajya Sabha in 1977 when he said: "Thus under a definite policy the Indian history textbooks were so falsified and distorted as to give an impression that the medieval period of Indian history was full of atrocities committed by Muslim rulers on their Hindu subjects and the Hindus had to suffer terrible indignities under Islamic rule."
Retired Justice Katju of the Indian Supreme Court has said that Dr. Pande came upon the truth about Tipu Sultan in 1928 while verifying a contention — made in a history textbook authored by Dr. Har Prashad Shastri, the then head of the Sanskrit Department in Calcutta University — that during Tipu's rule 3,000 Brahmins had committed suicide to escape conversion to Islam. The only authentication Dr. Shastri could provide was that the reference was contained in the Mysore Gazetteer. But the Gazetteer contained no such reference, according to a report in The Hindu newspaper.
Further research by Dr. Pande showed not only that Tipu paid annual grants to 156 temples, but that he enjoyed cordial relations with the Shankaracharya of Sringeri Math to whom he had addressed at least 30 letters. Dr. Shastri's book, which was in use at the time in high schools across India, was later de-prescribed. But the unsubstantiated allegation continued to masquerade as a fact in history books written later.
The Hindutva project to rewrite South Asian history appears to be gaining new momentum with the rise of Narendra Modi. If allowed to proceed unchecked, this revisionism could prove to be very destabilizing and dangerous for India, Pakistan and the entire region.