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The Civilisational Lie: Kashmir

by PIPFPD , 11 Mar 2020

A friend was recently narrating their childhood experience from when they were in school in the early 1990s. They were sitting in a geography class and were puzzled by the map of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir which was being shown in class. They knew from their family that the top left portion was not a part of India and was in fact on the other side of the Line of Control, an area administered by Pakistan and known as Azad Kashmir. They raised their hand and asked the teacher about why an incorrect map of the region was being taught to the students. The answer they got was, "Sometimes it is better to not ask certain questions".

Cut to today, and the Jammu and Kashmir Board of Secondary Education has already introduced a module on the J&K Reorganisation Act and aims to tell the students of the valley on how the state was converted into two Union Territories. Strange isn't it that schools in the valley were shut for seven months and yet, the abrogation of Articles 35A and 370, as well as the powers of the Parliament under Article 3 of the Constitution, which are all currently sub judice in the Supreme Court are already a part of the school syllabus? I guess if my friend was to ask the question about this today, three decades later, the response they would get would be, "Sometimes it is better to not ask certain questions".

This isn't the first time that the Indian education system has rushed to whitewash its history or deliberately omit structural violence from school syllabus. As The Wire reported in March 2019, the NCERT decided to drop three chapters related to the inequalities of caste and class. Or as the Scroll reported in November 2018, Rajasthan saw the rewriting of textbooks to represent a Hindu majoritarian worldview. But India is not unique in the sense that it indoctrinates children in school in order to create a biased version of the truth. Settler-colonial nations from the United States to Australia have run 'assimilation' schools in order to erase Indigenous cultures and indoctrinate children to represent the white version of history.

And yet it is important to remember that these erasures are not uncontested. The effort to change how history is remembered and with it the violence of occupation might be more easily available in the mainstream. But look for alternative renditions of history, of peoples' archives of their stories, of knowledge production that challenges the hegemony, and the truth will emerge. Knowing this, how will we remember the valley? Will we ever learn what it geographically looks like? Will we ever learn its history as the people of the valley would like us to know? Will we ever know the Kashmiriyat of Kashmir? I guess this is why we should all be asking questions. Just like three decades ago, now is the time that it is necessary to ask certain questions.


(This appeared on the FB wall of the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace & Democracy)


Related Articles:
1. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/jammu-and-kashmir-bifurcation-now-a-chapter-in-textbooks/story-BDxNmeJEgYvuaxRVk4dfbI.html
2. https://thewire.in/education/ncert-history-textbook-caste-struggles-colonialsm
3. https://scroll.in/article/901314/inspired-by-the-rss-dictated-by-bjp-minister-the-inside-story-of-rajasthans-textbook-revisions

https://twitter.com/pipfpdindia/status/1237392798191501317?s=19

The Civilisational Lie: Kashmir

A friend was recently narrating their childhood experience from when they were in school in the early 1990s. They were sitting in a geography class and were puzzled by the map of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir which was being shown in class. They knew from their family that the top left portion was not a part of India and was in fact on the other side of the Line of Control, an area administered by Pakistan and known as Azad Kashmir. They raised their hand and asked the teacher about why an incorrect map of the region was being taught to the students. The answer they got was, "Sometimes it is better to not ask certain questions".

Cut to today, and the Jammu and Kashmir Board of Secondary Education has already introduced a module on the J&K Reorganisation Act and aims to tell the students of the valley on how the state was converted into two Union Territories. Strange isn't it that schools in the valley were shut for seven months and yet, the abrogation of Articles 35A and 370, as well as the powers of the Parliament under Article 3 of the Constitution, which are all currently sub judice in the Supreme Court are already a part of the school syllabus? I guess if my friend was to ask the question about this today, three decades later, the response they would get would be, "Sometimes it is better to not ask certain questions".

This isn't the first time that the Indian education system has rushed to whitewash its history or deliberately omit structural violence from school syllabus. As The Wire reported in March 2019, the NCERT decided to drop three chapters related to the inequalities of caste and class. Or as the Scroll reported in November 2018, Rajasthan saw the rewriting of textbooks to represent a Hindu majoritarian worldview. But India is not unique in the sense that it indoctrinates children in school in order to create a biased version of the truth. Settler-colonial nations from the United States to Australia have run 'assimilation' schools in order to erase Indigenous cultures and indoctrinate children to represent the white version of history.

And yet it is important to remember that these erasures are not uncontested. The effort to change how history is remembered and with it the violence of occupation might be more easily available in the mainstream. But look for alternative renditions of history, of peoples' archives of their stories, of knowledge production that challenges the hegemony, and the truth will emerge. Knowing this, how will we remember the valley? Will we ever learn what it geographically looks like? Will we ever learn its history as the people of the valley would like us to know? Will we ever know the Kashmiriyat of Kashmir? I guess this is why we should all be asking questions. Just like three decades ago, now is the time that it is necessary to ask certain questions.


(This appeared on the FB wall of the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace & Democracy)


Related Articles:
1. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/jammu-and-kashmir-bifurcation-now-a-chapter-in-textbooks/story-BDxNmeJEgYvuaxRVk4dfbI.html
2. https://thewire.in/education/ncert-history-textbook-caste-struggles-colonialsm
3. https://scroll.in/article/901314/inspired-by-the-rss-dictated-by-bjp-minister-the-inside-story-of-rajasthans-textbook-revisions

https://twitter.com/pipfpdindia/status/1237392798191501317?s=19

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