Textbook row: Historian declines to join review panel

Textbook row: Historian declines to join review panel

Narayanan said that he was not ready to be a member of a committee headed by former bureaucrat Dr D Babu Paul as the latter was not a professional historian.

"This textbook is prepared by a panel of competent historians and only professional historians are capable of reviewing it to ascertain if the complaints of the church has any substance," Narayanan told PTI.

The Government invited Narayanan to join the review panel last week on receiving complaints from the Catholic church in Kerala that the textbook, prepared during the previous LDF government's rule, contained "grossly baseless anti-church contents" and "propagated Marxist political ideology".

Narayanan said he was contacted by a government official and he accepted the request to be part of the committee under the impression that it would be headed by a historian.
However, he said he came to know only later that it was going to function under the chairmanship of a former bureaucrat.

On the contents of the book, Narayanan said it was in fact, "one of the best books ever prepared" for school studies in Kerala. However, it was true that some of its contents had "prima facie anti-Catholic bias", he added.

According to Narayanan, the fault lies not with the authors of the textbook but with the British-oriented academic outlook that India has been following for the past few centuries.

"The English historians have always betrayed their bias against Catholicism. Being under British rule for long, we in India have been following the English history perspective when it comes to European studies," Narayanan, a former chairman of Indian History Congress, said.

The Education Commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) has already raised serious objections to the new textbook, demanding for its withdrawal and alleging it was part of a "Leftist plot to propagate anti-religion ideology by looking at history through the Marxian perspective".

The church has alleged that the book did not contain the authentic history of the world but the Marxian version by running down religion in general and Catholicism in particular.

Corroborating their point, KCBC secretary Fr Philip Nelpuraparambil, had said yesterday that the chapter titled 'the rise of the modern world' described the Renaissance as an "intellectual reaction against irrational ideals imposed on European people by the Catholic church".

According to the Church, ever since the Left came to power in Kerala for the first time in 1957, it has made attempts to deride the church and the religious orientation of all other sections by infusing Marxist ideological contents in textbooks.