The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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House splits hairs on history howlers

New Delhi, Nov. 26: The government and the Opposition today clashed over “calculated omissions” in history textbooks brought out by the National Council for Educational Research and Training, but Murli Manohar Joshi dismissed them as “typographical and proof-reading errors”.

The human resources development minister said some “factual mistakes” in the new books had been corrected. Giving examples, he said the Indo-Russian strategic partnership treaty’s term was wrongly mentioned as 30 years instead of 20.

Similarly, the omission of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, the year of the Kargil war, mention of “kathak” instead of “kathakali,” introduction of “zero” in the Gupta period and not earlier were “minor printing mistakes which have been duly corrected”. Joshi told the Lok Sabha that the NCERT, which published and released new textbooks in all subjects for classes I, III, VI, IX and XI, has amended these books. “Now they are being circulated and given errata along with them,” he said.

The minister said the factual errors were broadly related to printing and language. Clarifying that the Centre does not prescribe textbooks, he said it was up to state governments and education boards to decide whether they wanted to use them in their schools.

Raising the issue during question hour, CPM member Hannan Mullah and Congress MP Shayama Singh slammed the government for non-inclusion of events like Gandhi’s assassination by Nathuram Godse.

Mullah alleged that Godse’s allegiance to RSS ideology had prompted the government to “conceal historical facts” and demanded that the BJP apologise to the nation for what she described as “calculated omissions”.

Joshi tried to counter the charge by reading portions from old textbooks to assert that distorted history was being taught earlier too. But Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and the Congress’ Satyavrat Chaturvedi said the minister should “not read portions out of context and in isolation to mislead the House”.

Taking the cue from Joshi, BJP MPs M.L. Khurana and V.K. Malhotra quoted portions from the old books to point out that earlier textbooks also contained errors and gave wrong impressions about religious leaders like Guru Tegh Bahadur and the Jat community.

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