Bipan Chandra gives lessons on history books


New Delhi : The next edition of the World Book Fair will have a special section on history, eminent historian and chairman of the National Book Trust (NBT) Bipan Chandra has said.

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The scholar also has clear suggestions on the type of history children should be exposed to.

“I want to devote a separate section to historical books for children aged between 7 and 10,” the chairman of the NBT, which organised the weeklong 19th World Book Fair that ended Sunday, told IANS.

Chandra thinks children should read two kinds of history and he suggests a few models.

“Children should first learn about historical personages like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Akbar and Ashoka. And they should also know about the socio-cultural evolution of India. As a boy, I was bred on writer Shravan Kumar’s books. Why should we not publish them again? But the books must be written in a way that every child enjoys reading them. No child would like a history book that cannot be enjoyed,” Chandra said.

Students of Class XI and XII should read about historical development, the former professor of modern history at Jawaharlal Nehru University said.

“I would recommend ‘Medieval India’ written by Romila Thapar for NCERT and ‘Contemporary World History’ by Arjun Dev to students of Class XI and XII as model textbooks. It is a different matter that these books were discontinued a few years ago. But these books were written in a childlike way and yet packed in serious content,” the historian said.

Thapar’s “Medieval India” “presents a balanced and realistic picture of Indian history”, Chandra said.

“Most of the historians have their own biases, but it must not influence the portrayal of history. However, no human being can rid himself of bias,” he said, replying to a query whether the kind of history taught to Indian students was “free of political perceptions of events”.

It becomes the historian’s responsibility to present the real story, he said.