Showing posts with the label Perspectives/Essays

For the love and sanctity of India, its history and social sciences…a conservative’s musings

The repeated revisions and pruning of the NCERT history and political studies textbooks under the current regime, has been in news again. History, politics, sociology and the way India’s past, its society and politics are represented rakes up matters among the most erudite of scholars who otherwise would care little for our schools and the sorry curricular transactions that transpire in our classrooms even with most thoughtful of textbooks. This time, several scholars associated with the NCERT’s social sciences textbooks seek removal of their names from them. The narrative of these texts with several deletions, these writers allege, ends with different meanings from what was originally intended. And these changes were done without their consent. They claim the repeated changes are attempts at whitewashing history, rather saffronising them. It is the consequence and one of the many orchestrated charades of Hindutva politics that in excising portions on RSS’s role in Gandhi’s assassinati

My ‘magnum opus…’

  The few who have been following my blog, over the last 15 years, I have shared a lot on history, historiography, its politics and its pedagogies. All these have now been brought together as a book. It was long overdue. It’s a pretty long book and I suppose intense at many levels.  I present a summary here which I muse can also be seen as a précis of all my posts and also the shifts in my evolution as a history teacher and an eternal student of social sciences. I have always been deeply engaged and responding to issues and tumults in all domains of our socialisation in this site.  - - - - - - - - - History, representations of past and its textbooks have remained mired in controversies. Notwithstanding certain nuances and differences, broadly two visions jostle to inform our understanding of history. One is the left and so called liberal version in which India is construed as a modern imagination which was brought to life in the course of the freedom struggle. Second is the Indic view

Compelling but skewed - critiquing an instance of ‘popular’ histories

In recent years one sees certain kind of publications on our past. Written in engaging prose, attempts to resurrect our understanding of history in very fascinating ways is being made where these books might not truly represent new scholarship but they base their works more researched studies by historians with greater academic credentials. And of course they obviously do their key research as well but I’m not sure the extent, depth and scope of their direct engagement with primary sources. In itself, the researched monographs and papers on aspects as varied as state formation, social change, art, architecture, religion etc by more famed historians and scholars are often written in language and prose that can induce somnolence to all, other than those dedicated full time to research and academia. Works of Burton Stein, R Champakalakshmi, Y Subbarayulu…anyone for the afternoon weekend? That’s where works by the likes of Ira Mukhoty, William Dalrymple or Manu Pillai come in. They bring i

Traversing India's past - an outline for newer imaginations and practice

Recently there was this note, a circular and a media release where the Union Governments Ministry of Education sought people's suggestions and views to correct Indian history as presented in its textbooks. The flyer I received in my WhatsApp and from several sources proclaimed that suggestions were invited as "an exercise to remove unhistorical facts and distortions about national heroes and that new books will ensure equal representation of all periods in Indian history." Foregrounded before the image of the parliament in this instagramable note were images of Ncert's history textbooks 'Our pasts'. The target of this entire exercise was rather obvious. No other textbooks seem to have as many problems as are Ncert textbooks. Certainly there's a need for a relook of our social science textbooks leave alone history. Every political dispensation in power across the world always leans on a specific narration of the past to legitimise its politics, policies and

New pathways to social sciences - posers and arguments

RSK Sometime in the middle of last year, an year of such infamy, of disease, deaths and economic collapse, the National Education Policy (NEP 2020) did manage to stir the nation and animate the media which otherwise was so consumed by the havoc the pandemic had unleashed. Education much like health is an area where India lags not just behind the west but even its post colonial peers like China, Singapore, Korea. However India still manages to nurture a minority of students and boasts of select institutions like IITs, IIMs whose bar to entry is high but yet several thousands enter its portals and make their way to big companies and universities abroad. This irony is much like health where India boasts of some fine world class doctors and hospitals but both sit oddly with poor learning levels, i ncompetent teachers, malnourishment and limited access to basic primary healthcare. Coming to research and patents too India is a laggard with little to boast about compared to neighbouring China