History in NCERT textbooks

NCERT Director Professor J.S. Rajput has ingeniously correlated criticism with conspiracy (Perspective, Oct 19). In any pedagogic exercise, criticism is inbuilt. It crystallises basic assumptions on which hypothesis is floated or flaunted. The Indian History Congress has published “A Report and Index of Errors in the NCERT Textbooks” (reviewed in The Tribune, Oct 19). The NCERT has responded by publishing “The Fallacies in the IHC Report”. These textbooks are bound to impact the minds of our younger generation. So this debate may yield good results.

Recently, I had a cursory reading of Contemporary World History, NCERT textbook for Class XII, published in May 2003. The Indian History Congress is yet to comment on it. The book is full of howlers, even though its authors attempt to present the facts coherently and in an objective manner.

Strangely, the onus is on the teachers to rectify mistakes in the textbooks. But how many would do that? About the authors’ viewpoint, the less said the better. The NCERT Director is smelling a rat in every corner of commentators which is against the grain of learning. 

Sukhdev Singh Sohal, Reader, History, GND University, Amritsar



The NCERT has a major role to play in shaping the future of the country as it is well known that one learns to appreciate only that what he learns. The books are the source of learning and it is only through this medium that one gets to understand the gist of living.

Let an open invitation be extended to any Indian to come forward with proof for disproving the teachings suggested by the NCERT. No one will come forward, leave aside the possibility of disproving the genuineness of the literature. These pressure groups agitate over any “positive change" effected in any discipline with a view to making their presence felt and for living up to their reputation of being pressure groups.

Rishikaran Kakar, Chandigarh

Making Chandigarh a world class city

Chandigarh is celebrating its 50th birthday. If we compare Chandigarh with other cities in India, we find it to be one of the best cities. The literacy rate and per capita income are higher here. Good educational, medical and shopping facilities are available. The lay-out of the city is good.

But if we compare Chandigarh with other modern cities in the world, we find that a lot more has to be done. Based on my personal experience of visiting some of the most modern cities abroad like New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, San Antonio, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Edmonton in North America and London, Paris, Amsterdam and Zurich in Europe, I suggest the following 4-point development programme for Chandigarh for making it a more beautiful, vibrating and pulsating modern city.

First, a science museum/park with a planetarium and an aquarium should be opened. This museum, besides exhibiting science models (including robots), should also have regular educational, informative and entertainment programmes. The “Comet Quest” in the Albert Einstein Planetarium, Washington (DC), the one-hour astronomy presentation at the Hayden Planetarium, New York City, films on flight at Imex Theatre, Florida and Laser Rays Dance at the Science Museum of Boston are very popular.

Secondly, there should be at least one tall building like the Canadian National Tower, Toronto, with an observatory and a revolving restaurant on the rooftop.

Thirdly, there should be one modern shopping mall like the Edmonton Mall in Canada with escalators, musical fountains, restaurants, children’s games etc.

And finally, New York city has transparent ceiling tourist buses for sight-seeing. Tourists enjoy skyscrapers while sitting in these buses without worrying about rain or sun. Such attractions can be added in Chandigarh also.

Our country is now set to become a major world power. Chandigarh, being a very important modern city of India, needs to be developed as an ultra-modern world class city.

A. K. Agarwal, Professor, Centre for Advanced Study in Mathematics, Chandigarh

Ram deserved Sita

Ms Nidhi Dawesar in her article “Reinterpreting the myth” (Spectrum, Oct 19) is self-contradicting, when she concludes that if somebody wants a Sita, he should become an equally deserving Ram. For, in the second paragraph of her article, she has categorically stated: “But this time, she (Sita) refuses to serve Ram, because he never was and is not worth it!”

If Ram is really like this, then what is the meaning of the demand of becoming the “deserving Ram”? I fail to understand why the feminists run back to Sita when they worship Ram like God. Was Ram not deserving Sita? If Sita was really victimised by Ram, then is it not sufficient ground to dethrone him from the so-called godhood? Is it not self-contradictory to go on worshipping Ram and sympathising with Sita, supposed to have been victimised by him?

If Ram is God and deserves our worship, then whatever He did is unobjectionable and finding fault with Him should come to an end, for God is a holistic concept and we cannot talk about Him in a piecemeal manner.

You cannot worship Ram while sympathising with his supposed victim Sita, because that amounts to running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. The feminists should learn to be unequivocal.

Dr Surendra Ajnat, Banga

Issue in question

This refers to Inderdeep Thapar’s article “If Sita were to be reborn”. I very well agree to the ideas presented by the writer. It's definitely a different age now, where everybody has to change. I would like to add that it’s often said, “Inscrutable are the ways of women’s heart”. This can be true from one angle where the women is and expected to be sacrificing plus everything positive excluding herself. So, she is marked inscrutable in playing her role successfully.

On the other hand, if we pay heed to the statement we will have to put several question marks. Do women really have their way? If they have, are they ever explored? If they ever are, are they really fulfilled or covered up for what they actually aspire for?

Also referring to the article “Reinterpreting the myth” by Nidhi Dawesar, this is another fact for the modern era, Sita as ever, will be born always but this definitely will exclude all the adjustments beyond the requirements. If somebody wants Sita, he will have to become an equally deserving Ram. If she is to prove anything in future, she should be authoritative enough to ask for one. After all, she is a soul like any other soul.

Bindia, Rampura Phul

Leading with vision

Apropos of Ms Taru Bahl’s article “Leading with vision” (Oct 19), in the present-day world of global competition and vested interests, success depends not just on your knowledge, skills and enthusiasm. Nor is it bound to one’s sincere efforts and hard work. Very often even a sincere and capable person fails to achieve the desired goals only because he failed to acknowledge people’s strengths and realistically assess their limitations. It produces frustrating results when one starts expecting the same level of sincerity, motivation and performance from the people around him.

In the modern craze for material and professional success, the youth are gradually isolating themselves from the ground realities of their social existence. For this, more important than the human contacts and emotions is the target that must be achieved in their profession. This is turning human beings into mechanised robots bereft of fellow feeling and sociability.

No doubt, one needs to attain material and monetary success but one should be able to maintain a healthy balance between work, home and leisure. Best business administration is in learning to adjust and work with people who may not be as intelligent, sincere and motivated. Trusting and believing in others, which qualities have suffered the most in our modern system of work and governance, need to be inculcated in our otherwise enthusiastic and intelligent youth.

Ved Guliani, Hisar

Incorrect figures

Mr V. Gangadhar, in his article “Running for nine years and still going strong” (Spectrum, October 12), states that Yash Chopra’s film “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge” (DDLJ) was released at Maratha Mandir cinema of Mumbai in October 1995. But his statement that the movie has completed its nine-year run at the theatre is quite surprising. One does not have to be a great mathematician to calculate that the movie has actually run for eight years so far.

Further, the writer has stated that DDLJ comfortably beat the earlier record set by G.P. Sippy’s “Sholay” which ran for one year (regular shows) and another four years as the morning show at Minerva theatre of Mumbai. This is also incorrect. The fact is that “Sholay” had run for about three years in regular shows (from August 15, 1975 to August 31, 1978) at the aforesaid theatre and was shifted to morning shows from September 1, 1978.

Surendra Miglani, Kaithal

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