Re-writing History – UPSC GS1

It is argued that there is a need to re-write Indian history textbooks. Critically examine why and comment if such arguments have any merit. (200 Words)

History is a means to understand our heritage and strengthen our links with our ancestors. In that context it is frequently argued that we need to rewrite Indian history textbooks due to following reasons:
– There is excessive focus on political history while other cultural, sociological, economic aspects have been relatively neglected.
– There is a very strong focus on North and North Western region to the detriment of other regions in the country.
– Often, myths and legends have been embellished as popular fact without any strong basis in historical fact.
– New insights are gained from Archaeological sources, from newly discovered documents, paintings etc. which needs to be interpreted.
– Indian history mainly has narratives of two schools of thoughts – Marxist and Colonial. There is a need to broaden the perspective by analysis through other ideological prisms.
In any field, revision and updation of text books should be an organic process which keeps pace with the new discoveries. Hence, the demand for revision of history textbooks is justified. However, there are few dangers associated with this –
– While different perspectives on history can be there, the perspective of the dominant group should not be used for the purpose of establishing a cultural hegemony.
– The rewriting should be strictly based on facts and not myths or legends.
– The task should be entrusted to eminent historians with integrity and strong credentials so that the task is not unduly politicised.
Instead of ‘rewriting’ history books what is needed instead is addition of different¬†perspectives with critical analysis that brings new insights into the public domain.