Tuesday, December 18, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



History can’t be left to politicians

Mr Hari Jaisingh has rightly pointed out that history is a scientific activity relentlessly pursued for finding truth about the past. A credible historical account acts as guide to the future. History cannot be left to the politicians to dabble in.

The deletion of certain portions from the NCERT textbooks of history, written by eminent historians, almost universally acclaimed for high standards, has invited a serious blame of “saffronisation” or “Talibanisation” of history. What has made the attempt of the HRD Minister claiming improvement of the textbooks suspect in the eyes of historians and intellectuals is for the following reasons:

The changes have been made in the textbooks in a sudden and surruptitious manner in the absence of discovery of any new facts and without even informing, not to speak of consultation with, the learned authors.

The books were not written for the religious orders and caste groups, but these were meant for the students of middle and senior secondary classes. Although the contents of the deleted sections are amenable to communal propaganda by the politically motivated since these facts relate to changing food habits of beef eating by early Aryans (claimed to be Hindus), political and religious factors behind the evolution of the caste system, multiple social and economic causes behind the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur, the historicity of the early Jain Tirthankaras, the polity of the Jat rulers of Bharatpur etc. The religious and caste communities, however, are not guided by history textbooks. They have been preaching the traditional information and myths and the scientific discipline of history cannot be left to their care.

The historical context of the issue seems to be to drag different religious and caste groups into their own communal politics just before the U.P. elections in which the BJP has high stakes. Hence, the propaganda to malign the communists (through the objective historians) leading the Jan Morcha the real alternative to the BJP in U.P.

The long-term strategy has been revealed by the HRD Ministry under Dr Murli Manohar Joshi by reconstitution of councils like ICHR, NCERT, UGC etc withdrawal of the Freedom Struggle volumes (Sumit Sarkar and K.N. Panikar) from the press, introduction and encouragement of traditional courses of astrology, Anushthan (Hindu rituals), Vastu (Hindu architecture) and Sanskrit, besides the changes introduced in the syllabi and courses by the BJP-ruled states in the last decade and the recent abolition of the teaching of history from 6 to10th classes by the NCERT. This, in fact, is an attempt to sneak in the Hindutva social consciousness in the minds of the younger generation.

The re-writing of history like this is an attempt at virtually the replacement of one type of history (secular democratic) by another history (Hindutva brand).



Nawab Kapur Singh

Recently, criticising Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra for his remarks on the installation of Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar as President of the SGPC, the Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, said at Kauli (Patiala) that there was nothing wrong in doing so as the Panth had, in the past, conferred “nawabis’ even on those who removed the dung of horses.

However, Mr Dhindsa did not mention the names of such persons. Apparently, he might have in his mind the only instance of Kapur Singh, who assumed the title of Nawab. He was the founder of Faizullahpuria (renamed Singhpuria) “misl” (confederacy). He was so pious a person that many Sikhs took pride in having been initiated by him into the Khalsa. Even Jassa Singh Ahluwalia took “pahul” from him. He held the steel mace of Guru Gobind Singh.

Having failed to crush the Sikhs, the then Governor of Punjab, Zakariya Khan, adopted the policy of appeasement towards them. He gave them a “jagir” near Amritsar and offered the title of Nawab to their leader. In compliance with the wishes of the Sikhs, Kapur Singh accepted the same, it is said, on the condition that he would remove the dung of their horses to maintain his humility and self-abnegation.

He united the Sikhs with the formation of the Dal Khalsa under the command of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. During the second invasion of Ahmad Shah Abdali, the Dal Khalsa attacked Lahore at the instance of Nawab Kapur Singh. He himself controlled the city and collected revenue from the Kotwali.

According to S.M. Latif, Nawab Kapur Singh “was undoubtedly the most distinguished of the Sikh leaders who paved the way for the greatness of the nation as an independent ruling power.”

Is it not describing him as one who was given “nawabi”, because he removed the dung of horses, tantamount to insulting this illustrious Sikh leader?


Genetic lab

Apropos the news item "GMCH-32 to have genetic laboratory" (Nov 25), the genetic laboratory being set up at Chandigarh's Government Medical College & Hospital, Sector 32, is not the first one in North India. Under a grant from the Union Department of Biotechnology, a Centre for Genetic Disorders was established at Guru Nanak Dev University in 1990.

A similar facility was also created at the PGI, Chandigarh. A clinic for genetic counselling was also opened in 1997 at the Department of Human Biology, Punjabi University, Patiala.


Excise & banks

Punjab industry faces acute problems regarding central excise and banks. The central excise law provides for an addition of 15 per cent to the selling price if goods are sold to a relative or an inter-connected undertaking. Another industry of the same type and size can sell the same goods at 15 per cent lower price. Undoubtedly, the former will get wiped out of the market.

Industrial units engaged in the process of sheet cutting have been brought under the excise net. This process cannot be taken as manufacturing under Rule 2(F). The department is not ready to listen to any argument. Moreover, these units do only job work.

Small units are charged exhorbitant rates of interest and service charges. This is done on the basis of quantitative parameters for working capital. A unit is supposed to show profit of 8.5 per cent or more after paying tax to get full marks. Any such profit below 2.5 per cent attracts zero rating. Partners of a firm get interest on their capital being used in the firm. This interest forms the part of the capital. Banks do not consider this towards profit. This further lowers the ratio.

A firm must get a return of 20 per cent on the capital to attract full marks and anything below 10 per cent yields zero rating.

Hardly any SSI unit in particularly can meet the requirement. This is only a way devised to charge more interest. A deputation of the Apex Chamber of Commerce & Industry has brought these issues to the notice of the Union Finance Minister.

P. D. Sharma, Ludhiana

Village medical stores

There is a mushroom growth of medical stores in the rural areas. Most of the owners or contractors of these medical stores are non-technical persons. Almost every village in Bathinda district has three to four medical stores.

But barring one or two, others hardly have any business and these openly sell intoxicants.


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