Are Indian textbooks teaching true history?

By Sunil Kumar(My Quora answers continued)

Well; my answer to this question is subjective; based on my personal opinion, like most of Quora on a daily basis.
We have to fundamentally examine what we mean by history. Is it the textbook definition of a long line of kings waging battles, military tactics, wars or ways of life that got transformed over millennia?
Living in Maharashtra; I remember that history in school was a glossed-over subject; many people were averse to it and could not remember dates. Personally; I found history interesting, but academically it was just another subject; as anybody who wants to get into science streams knows that what really counts is PCM in XII.

English: Painting of the Buddha's first discou...

English: Painting of the Buddha’s first discourse, turning the Dharmacakra. Sanskrit Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra manuscript written in the Ranjana script. Nalanda, Bihar, India. Circa 700-1100 CE. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cut to the present day; we have witnessed a resurgence in historical debates courtesy social networks, non-stop blaring television and the web.

I can still counter that Indian text books and Indians in general are still not really engaged with history(although this is changing rapidly).
As for your query on “Are Indian schools teaching true history?”. Also; what exactly is true history? It’s largely a subjective story; which by common sense; not even the most accomplished historian or researcher can truthfully claim to be a 100% accurate version of events that happened in the past(anywhere in the world).

In India’s history; the story becomes even more convoluted to the numerous invasions, kingdoms and attempts to destroy the country’s old records and alter them; mostly for successive rulers and their self-interest.
History is important in the sense that it equates to national self-perception imo.

An example often given in this context is Joseph Needham’s books on China; detailed historical scholarship that transformed the cultural narrative both in Western academia etc and China itself.
One thing I admire about the Chinese is their nationalistic spirit; although this seems to be morphing into pre-WWII Japanese-style arrogance. This is because history has been somewhat revered from the time of the mandarins and Sima Qian(Emperor’s crony; but he wrote a detailed history).
India might have shastras; but official histories are largely missing; except for Kalhana’s Rajatarangini.
Although communists tried to destroy antiques during the Cultural Revolution; both history and Buddhism have re-emerged in the contemporary capitalist communist PRC.
A fact that Indians may not know is that the Chinese are building their own Nalanda-style university to counter India’s soft power in the Buddhist world(Regardless of what anybody thinks; Siddhartha was an ancient Indian; a Sakya king from what was then described as Jambudvipa or Aryavarta).
The article below describes that even though the Chinese government initially donated funds for the re-establishment of the great ancient educational institution of Nalanda; they kept their own plans a secret and are now creating an even bigger Buddhist university. From a country that is officially atheist; another religious achievement.
China gets its own Nalanda, shames India (
The Indian government has always been remarkably complacent in getting their act together and leveraging its justifiably great ancient heritage for international power projection.
Now; for the chronic problem of disputes and turf wars. In India; however, dangerous games are being played daily between a so-called “leftist” agenda and the “right-wing” perspective. Instead of flash points for useless debate; why not create commercially viable products marketing 5000 years of living?
This should be replaced with a nationalist; objective textbook that is balanced and comes up with numerous stories of the so-called “ordinary” people; apart from the “icons” who are done-to-death. Does the life history of a long-dead king or emperor truly matter for you in the present day? I don’t want a socialist textbook, but unless you make history relatable to the present generation; it will morph into mutations that undermine the cultural narrative, values and popular self-perception that transform over a period of time; due to many factors.
I can’t objectively assess every state and national board; SSC, CBSE, ICSE, IB etc but the only option left for teachers and inquisitive students who really want to engage with history is to carry out their own diligent research. It should be merely factual(to the best degree possible); devoid of any agenda whatsoever. Apart from that; history is just another subject in the syllabus and should be treated as such.

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