I am writing this article in response to the ways in which the subject history is taught in our country. First of all I would like like everyone to know That I am no layman showing his views on history rather a student who loves History and wants to know the past for the sake of truth and learning from the past. Due to History I came to know about heroes of the Indian freedom struggle, scientists and their discoveries in the past, my rich culture and many more which are quite unrelated in the real world. History is not bad the way it is taught makes it look bad. There cannot be a person who would have learnt from his past and also there cannot be a person who must be interested in the past of something say for example a science student is interested in the past of scientific development. We need to learn from the past and not memorize it.
As everyone has an opinion about history that it is mere learning and nothing else. This can be considered true but to only a certain extent the bigger culprit is the methodology of it’s teaching. Earlier it was taught merely as political narrative in which one had to memorize everything, with the coming of Marxist ideas it became more of a social and economic history. With their domination in history writing economic and social history became more important and political narrative lost its place.
With this background I would show the truth of history teaching. Most universities divide Indian History into period ancient, medeival, and modern which are further divided into period of roughly 300 to 100. If one looks at the syllabus of the Delhi University for example one would find each and every aspect of history involved at least in name. The professors however lay emphasis on social and economic history because 1.they were taught this kind of history 2.questions are framed mostly by them and it is more or less based on the same topics. This leads to students avoiding other aspects of history like political narrative, art and architecture, culture etc. Even if one looks at the previous years’ questions one would find repetition of questions. I am surprised that these professors can’t even frame new questions, can’t they surprise the students. Due to this attitude of the University the students start memorising the prepared answers and hence history becomes a mugging paper and all its beauty is lost. I am a student who is least interested in economic history. This is because once you the basics of economics you can write on your own and do not need the help of books and therefore any question related to this would become repetitive and boring because same thing has to be written. In the University no emphasis is laid on art and architecture paper culture is generally ignored.
Another and biggest problem is emphasing some figures and making them prominent. Say for example Akbar every person knows his name but ‘no’ one knows the fact that there were deccani sultans reigning contemporanous with him. In this ‘no’one I am also including the students of history. I can challenge that if you ask the names of dyansties ruling these deccani sultanates from history hons students only a fraction would be able to answer. Look at the way the professors have designed the paper history of India 1550 to 1605. The period exactly covers akbar’s reign as if nothing was prevalent in the period except akbar. Why this eulogised history writing. We are free citizens and not ruled by the mughals so why their glory is put above and why every other state is dwarfed. It should be noted that Akbar never conquered whole of India there were the deccani kingdom and nayaka kingdoms in the South.
I would only suggest a small change teach us everything. Don’t bother about our failure. With this mugging nature we have already become a failure. Failing while learning is better than topping through mugging. Teach us something new question us new. As my professor once told “Have a sense of history try to look at the broader picture try to understand the events and phenomena and not merely memorize it”. Teach us every aspect of history don’t hide the truth we are grown ups now we can understand the true reasons and intentions behind the act. Don’t tell me who was great give me the facts and let me analyze who was great. The same principle applies for most arts subjects in India. Teach us with connecting everything and not by placing the subject in vacuum.