It has been 14 years since Pakistani intruders were driven out of Tiger Hill and Captain Vikram Batra,Captain Manoj Pandey,Captain Sourabh Kalia besides numerous unsung heroes became irreplaceable names in the history of contemporary India. And while the Armys bravehearts rewrote history with their blood,the education system does not find it significant to include their mention in history books for basic introduction to young Indian minds.
The Maharashtra state board has no mention of Kargil in social science books till standard ten.
The case is no different with languages books,where no stories about their bravery is featured. Instead,the social science book of the state board focuses on history,the latest event to be touched being Goa liberation. According to N K Jarag,head,State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) that designs content of the textbooks,”Children between standard one to eight do not have the understanding (to grasp facets of Kargil).” Jarag agrees Kargil/ Kargil heroes deserve a mention in textbooks for standard nine and 10.
SCERT follows NCERT guidelines. A quick look at some guidelines which aim at enabling students to be familiar with some key political events and figures in the post-independence period,events and processes of recent history,to take a historical perspective of making sense of contemporary India makes one wonder why none of India’s post independence conflicts,including Kargil,feature in the textbooks.
While this is the case with the state board,the CBSE class 12 political science book has a passing mention of the Kargil conflict (Box- 1).
This,when earlier editions of the syllabus included a rather elaborate account of Kargil (Box- 2). Even in Sainik Schools in the city/ state,Kargil is covered only in military training through individual initiatives.
“We conduct talks by inviting guest lecturers. In fact,a subject called ‘Purandar te Kargil’ was taught to our students for two years under military training. But we have now stopped the same. It is mandatory for Sainik School girls to know the history of Kargil,but it is unfortunate that it does not form a part of the syllabus,” said Shraddha Walimbe,principal,Rani Laxmibai Military School for Girls.
According to a department head in the University of Pune,Indian history in textbooks predominantly follows the outlines of non-violent struggle and the Gandhian thoughts.
“Our policy seems to be not to project ourselves as imperialists through the history books. Also,on a bigger history of contemporary India where governance,politics,administration or foreign policy are the elements,Kargil looks like a relatively small event,” he said. Suhas Palshikar,former advisor to the NCERT,said Kargil is a relatively “smaller or minor” event from the academic perspective,unless it is about war history or Indo-Pak relations. “In academic perspective,the relation between India-Pakistan gains more significance than armed conflicts between the two countries.”
Veteran soldiers have a different take. Major General (retd) G D Bakshi,veteran security analyst,said,”I had written to the authorities asking them for inclusion of Kargil in the education system,but there was no response. Representation of military history is a neglected aspect in the country.”