The Committee of Experts of History, set up by Punjab Government, for the review of the History books has raised another wide ranging controversy after it decided to withdraw the new books published by the Punjab School Education Board. The Committee in its meeting on 8th of June attended by Dr. Kirpal Singh, Prof. J.S. Grewal, Prof. Indu Banga, Prof. Pirthipal Singh Kapoor, Balwant Singh Dhillon and Inderjit Singh, further went on to recommend that the old syllabi from the books whatever were being taught earlier, be continued to be taught during this academic session.
This decision of the Committee has been challenged by various experts and politicians. The critics argue that replacing a wrong book by another admittedly wrong book full of factual and academic blunders, has harmed the interests of the innocent students who come from poor, Dalit and average families, financially as well as academically. It is also argued that there was no need for the Committee to take this decision with wide ranging ramifications, in such a hurry.
The books published by Punjab Board could have been withdrawn but the decision to continue with the grossly deficient old syllabus and with the old books full of mistakes is not appropriate especially at a time when the schools are still lying closed due to summer vacation. In the electronic media it has further been argued that the Committee in the coming three weeks could have decided the syllabii for the two classes and directed the Board to upload the same on the website. For the current academic year the chapter-wise content could have been uploaded on weekly/ten days basis. In the meantime the proper books could have been prepared by the Committee and published by the Board.
Punjab school Education Board had designed and published the History Books for class 11th and 12th for the first time at its own by getting the same written down through a committee of 5 experts on History, Political Science and Punjabi. The said Committee had been set up in 2014 for preparation of History books for various classes. However the new syllabus and the new books had been found lacking on many aspects and the same lead to the breeding of a wider political controversy. Already there were many reports in the press showing gross errors of fact and the methodology of History in the old books besides the huge price of Rs. 450/- per book as compared to odd Rs. 100 for the earlier one. One such report by Bhai Jaswinder Singh Rajpura of the United Sikh Party has given page wise glaring lapses in the old Book.
Some financial experts interested in financial calculations even went to the extent of calculating the additional financial burden that the old books were imposing on the students and filling the coffers of the private publishers. Such additional burden for seven lakh odd students in 11th and 12th classes studying under the Punjab Board, out of whom around 4 lakh opt for history ran into a huge sum of Rs.14 crore.
Fingers have also been raised by some others terming that the old syllabus was also not up to the mark. It had limited history of Punjab, only from the period of 15th century to the 19th century (up to 1850). The academicians remaining silent during the whole episode through out, is also an indicator of the apathy and the sorry state of affairs in the academia. This also is a depiction of their cowardliness and lack of concern to come into the open for setting the things right. The students around 7 lakh were left in lurch by the powers that be in the academics, in politics and in the administration. When the earlier controversy continued then ultimately the Politics came forward and set up a committee of prominent Historians to review the History books and make amends if need be.
The old book is not only an injustice to the students, role of dalits in shaping the History and the role of Bhagati Movement, but it has done gross injustice to the Sikh History too.
Fresh Controversy , What is it ?
The Committee is headed by nonagenarian Dr. Kirpal Singh and other dyons of History including Prof. J.S. Grewal, Prof. Indu Banga, Prof. Pirthipal Singh Kapoor. However it seems that the decision is more emotional rather than rational, in as much as the students of Punjab in the old syllabi were being denied the requisite knowledge of History as compared to rest of the Indian states and the UTs of the Country. Punjab Board students also suffered in comparison to the students of the institutions affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE). In whole of the country the pattern is, that World History is taught in 11th class, Indian History and the History of the State is taken up in 12th class. However in the old syllabi drawn out by the Punjab Board, that has been decided to be taught by the Committee once again, the History of world is missing altogether and even in the History of Punjab only the period of 15th to 19th Century till 1850 is covered.
Lapses in the Syllabi prescribed by the Punjab School Education Board
It is strange that the committee has ignored or overlooked the fact that the students of the Punjab Board Affiliated Schools are not taught the world History at all till 12th class. There are no books at all in 9th class and in 10th class for the history of Punjab, 15th to 19th Century having the chapters on Sikh Guru Sahiban, Banda Singh Bahadur , Misls , Ranjit Singh and Anglo-Sikh conflicts and annexation of Punjab same as that in 12th class old book is taught. However in 10th class 16 pages are devoted to the contribution of Punjab in freedom struggle and a few pages on it are also in 11th class.
The wards of the decision makers including Politicians, administrators and the academicians do not study in Punjab Board schools. As such they do not feel the pinch of the grossly defective syllabi. Can one imagine that a student should not be taught an iota of World History till 12th class? Can one imagine that a student is not taught the freedom struggle of India 1857 onward? Can one imagine that by ignoring Bhagati Movement we are depriving the students from the philosophical thought of the Bhagats and the role played by them in shaping the History? Can we not imagine that ignoring Bhagati Movement is one of the designs of some forces? Can we imagine the student not being taught the History of Punjab from vardhan to Delhi Sultnate at all?
What are gross breaches in old book ?
The Book of the private publisher indirectly recommended by the Committee, is more often the breach of the privileges of the Board than complying with its syllabi. Board has provided option for the subject ‘History’ but the Publisher has made it ‘History of Punjab’ unauthorisedly. The chapters as per the syllabus by the board should be 22, but the publishers has added one extra chapter at its own unauthorisedly and has burdened the students financially as well as academically, leading to utter confusion. The naming of the chapters in the syllabus prescribed, is such that the content is limited or expanded to the desired aspects but the publisher has changed the chapters 10,16,20,22 and 23 at its own. As such the stress on the aspects which the syllabus prescribing authority wanted to lay, has been changed by the publishers at their own will. Neither this Committee nor the Board Authorities have taken any action on such gross academic breaches.
The old book is not only an injustice to the students, role of dalits in shaping the History and the role of Bhagati Movement, but it has done gross injustice to the Sikh History too. As per the private book the name ‘Punjab’, for the first time was introduced by Britishers as ‘Punjab Prant’. However the documents from the archives depict that in ‘Ain-e-Akbari’ Part 1.5 Abul Fazal has written that territory of Punjab was divided into two provinces of Lahore and Multan. Again in the second volume of ‘Ain-e-Akbari’, title of a chapter contains the word ‘Punjab’. Similarly, the Mughal King Jahangeer too, used this word on page 183 of his book ‘Tuzk-i-Jahangeeri’ as per Quraishee, 1973 as mentioned by Asad Ali Khan in the book Temporal view. As such the word PUNJAB was known in official documents / writings as early as 16th century.
The academicians remaining silent during the whole episode through out, is also an indicator of the apathy and the sorry state of affairs in the academia. This also is a depiction of their cowardliness and lack of concern to come into the open for setting the things right.
Gurmukhi script , as per the old book already existed before Guru Angad Dev ji. However the fact of History is that the letters were in existence, but Gurmukhi script was not in existence and instead it was LANDE script, which is being used in munimi even to the present day as under:
Letters used in Gurmukhi script were available earlier as depicted by Engineer J. B. Singh by a photo from a well/Tomb in Hathoor in Ludhiana District as under:
In fact the letters as above were not a proper script in the true sense. The same were organised in a proper script by Guru Angad Dev ji giving the letters an order in accordance with the site of origin of the sound of each toli or line.
In the private book it is incorporated as history that Guru Nanak Dev ji was not against Hindu deities but only said that they cannot be compared to almighty, was not against the Caste system, was not against idol worship, was not against the basic tenants of Hindu religion, was not against the Hindu rituals, did not establish any new organisation or sect, did not establish any new institution.
Futher it is recorded in the book that Akbar bestowed Jagirs on Bibi Bhani and another jagir of 500 bigha land on Guru Ramdas ji. It also makes out that the martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev ji and Guru Teg Bahadur ji was on account of religious reasons and not because of any political reason.
The said book in fact is MBD Guide, the new edition of 2018 as well as the old edition, depicts that the text in the old book was of only around 40 pages scattered all over but now it has been reduced to 22 pages and has been placed as the first section of the book. The Photos of Guru Sahiban and the Gurudwaras has been added apparently at a later stage as the same get torn off from the book in first or second opening. The Photos have been introduced with motives other than teaching history and without bothering the day to day sacrilege of the photos while handling the books by the students, thus placing the business interests above that of faith even.
Can one imagine that a student should not be taught an iota of World History till 12th class? Can one imagine that a student is not taught the freedom struggle of India 1857 onward? Can one imagine that by ignoring Bhagati Movement we are depriving the students from the philosophical thought of the Bhagats and the role played by them in shaping the History? Can we not imagine that ignoring Bhagati Movement is one of the designs of some forces?
What can be done ?
1. Let the Committee draw out the syllabus for 11th and 12th Class by end of this month.
2. Let there be only 14-15 chapters for each class.
3. Let the board be directed to upload the same on its website
4. Let the limit of pages be prescribed between 180 to 200 for each class in-order to lessen the burden.
5. Let the content be organised on the modern methodology of inquisitive teaching learning in consonance with the current pedagogical advances.
6. Let for this academic year, the board experts be directed to prepare content of each chapter every week and upload the same on the web page.
7. Let the Committee take its own time to write the books for 11th and 12th and hand over the same to the Board for Publication by end of December .
8. Let the board Publish the new books by mid February 2019.
It is feasible, practical and necessary and is in the interest of academics. It can be executed by a dedicated team of supporting staff and experts.
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