The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Reviled author wreaks revenge

New Delhi, Nov. 25: They accused him of trying to “Indianise”. So he’s got back at them for trying to downsize the country’s history.

It is now the turn of Makkhan Lal, author of the national education council’s new and controversial ancient history textbook for class VI students, to turn the tables on his Marxist compatriots in Bengal.

In an elaborate review of ancient history textbooks published by the Left Front government, Lal has pointed to “factual” errors and the attempt to slash substantive portions of Indian history and civilisation.

The review that runs into 60 pages begins with a statement of intent by the author. “The intention is not to stimulate a controversy but to hold a beacon of light for the innocent souls of West Bengal,” he says.

The textbook for class VI students, according to the NCERT author, talks less about Indian history and civilisation and more about civilisations outside India. “Out of 117 pages of the textbook only 28 pages are devoted to Indian history and civilisation and this is less than one-fourth of the book,” Lal says. “They could not even do justice to the history of ancient Bengal which has been reduced to one-and-a-half pages.”

By contrast, as many as 15 pages are filled with the history of Rome and Greece, he says. According to Lal, a student should first be made aware of his or her local surroundings and then about the outside world.

When the new NCERT textbooks recently hit the stalls, one of the main criticisms levelled at Lal by his Marxist colleagues was the attempt to “Indianise” every event — an attempt they claimed detracted from the truth.

Lal, in his review, now accuses his Marxist critics of “distorting” history by downsizing Indian history and civilisation.

One of the most acrimonious debates between Right and Left-wing historians centres on the Indus Valley civilisation and the advent of Aryans.

The Bengal textbook says: “Long after the Indus Valley civilisation, Aryans developed a rural civilisation in India. They also came to India from abroad.”

Lal counters this. “There is no evidence to show Aryans came from abroad,” he says.

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