The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Left meets its book demons
- NCERT revises text to tell ‘truth’ about Lenin, Stalin and Mao

They never taught this history in school, thanks largely to the textbooks that Leftists wrote. High school students across India will now learn the other history — of the demonic side to Lenin, Stalin and Mao — that may rattle communists and their academic sympathisers in Calcutta and Delhi.

The Sangh parivar has now opened one more front in its battle for the minds and hearts of young India. It comes in the just-published textbook on contemporary world history, prescribed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training for Class XII students of the Central Board of Secondary Education.

It is part of the battle of the books that the Sangh launched against Left historians after the BJP came to power in Delhi. After the two NCERT books on ancient and medieval India, the one on world history is the bitterest attack till now on Marxist icons.

“We only asked the authors to present facts as they exist and to be as objective as possible,” says NCERT director J.S. Rajput. This was necessary because “after all, children have to live in a world of truths.”

The students will now be taught the facts about how in 1921 Lenin “either expelled or shot dead” nearly one-third of the party’s membership who differed from the official party line with the help of the “dreaded secret police, the Cheka”.

Stalin, they will be taught, “unleashed repression on a scale unknown in human history” and was the one from whom Hitler learnt the ropes because the latter came to power after Mussolini and Stalin. Hitler only “aspired to reach the levels of brutality perpetrated by the first two”. They will learn how Stalin first stole the freedom of Poland, Hungary and other East European countries and then brutalised their people when they rose in revolt.

And they will know how Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward caused successive famines that killed millions of Chinese, while his Cultural Revolution led to deaths of one more million . Or, how he got Lin Biao, whom he once selected as his successor, executed, much in the manner Stalin sent assassins to kill the exiled Trotsky in Mexico. No wonder, according to the three authors of the book, China “heaved a sigh of relief” when Mao died.

The brutal tradition of Chinese communism didn’t end with Mao, as Tibet in 1959 and Tiananmen Square in 1989 showed to a shocked world.

The three authors of the book — Mohammed Anwar-ul Haque, Himansu Patnaik and Pratyush Mandal — told Rajput that the earlier textbook needed “major changes”. He would not say it in so many words, but the NCERT director suggested that ideological hang-ups held up a “proper revision” of the book, written by the husband-wife team of Arjun and Indira Arjun Dev, both known Leftists, and last revised in 1988.

“Every year we’ve reprints of the book because of the high demand and the authors could revise and update it if they so wanted,” Rajput says.

So the Sangh parivar has done with a vengeance what the Left would not do, presumably to keep the young minds shut from unpleasant truths. And if it is a saffron text, religion must get its due in the making of history. The fall of the Soviet Union or communist East Europe may have many reasons. But the saffron textbook discovers the role of religion in that upheaval, not forgetting that of “Hindu orders like Iskcon and Ananda Marg”. Its conclusion: “Communism had no chance against the will of a people who had rediscovered themselves through religion”.

Rajput is anticipating brickbats from the CPM headquarters in Delhi’s Ashoka Road and from the Left brigade at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

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