The debate over the need to re-write Indian history textbooks is heating up and, yet again, it is likely to spiral into an ugly political spat. Sadly this debate will distract from the many sensible reasons history books need to be changed.
Indian history is mostly written from the perspective of Delhi or at most northern India, as if the rest of the country barely existed except as mere provinces. The average Indian student, for instance, will learn almost nothing about the great Satavahana, Vijayanagar or Chola empires of southern India. Unless you live in the northeast, you may never have heard of the Ahom kings who ruled Assam for 600 years and even defeated the Mughals. This absurd imbalance needs to be corrected. Moreover, history is not just about the rise and fall of empires but also about other streams of history. For instance, Indian textbooks say almost nothing about the country’s rich maritime history beyond a passing reference to Chola naval raids on Southeast Asia. Students learn very little about thriving Indo-Roman trade or the exploits of ancient Odiya merchants who pioneered sea routes across the eastern Indian Ocean. The great influence of Indian civilization on Southeast Asia is barely mentioned, if at all...........Read more
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