The new Indian text books for children have either diluted or completely omitted some significant references, including to Mahatma Gandhi’s opposition to Hindu nationalism, and the 2002 riots in Gujarat, where hundreds of Muslims were killed in days of indiscriminate violence at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the state’s chief minister, according to a dispatch in a leading American newspaper. When Indian children began the school year this week, The New York Times said in a dispatch from New Delhi Friday that students in thousands of classrooms were this week issued the revised textbooks on history and politics that either watered down or purged key details from India’s past that Prime Minister Modi’s ruling party finds inconvenient to its Hindu nationalist vision for the country. This re-writing of history also took aim at the secular foundation of post-colonial India as well chapters on the history of the Mughals, the Muslim rulers who controlled much of India between the 16th and 19th centuries. According to the Times, among the deleted passages from 12th-grade history and politics texts were: Gandhi’s “steadfast pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity provoked Hindu extremists so much that they made several attempts to assassinate” him. Gandhi “was particularly disliked by those who wanted India to become a country for the Hindus, just as Pakistan was for Muslims.” “Instances, like in Gujarat, alert us to the dangers involved in using religious sentiments for political purposes. This poses a threat to democratic politics.” “The alterations, which had been under discussion since last year before being formalized in the newly printed curriculum, follow other efforts by Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., to erase prominent Muslim marks on India’s history and politics, including the frequent changing of street and city names from Muslim to Hindu,” Times’ correspondent Suhasini Raj wrote. “The governing party’s leaders have also tried to minimize the founding fathers’ arguments for why India’s diversity could survive only under a secular umbrella, co-opting the legacy of many secular leaders as they push to remake India into a Hindu-first nation. “With that divisive campaign, anti-Muslim hate speech has proliferated, holy sites have been aggressively contested and Hindu lynch mobs have killed Muslims on suspicion of slaughtering or even just transporting cows, which are considered holy by Hindus,” she added. Political interference with education is not new to Indian democracy, it was pointed out. Successive federal and state governments have tried to leverage education to their advantage, whether to further an ideological agenda or for self-promotion. Meanwhile, Dinesh Prasad Saklani, director of the National Council of Educational Research and Training, an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Education that oversees textbook content, defended the changes, claiming they had been made to reduce the load on children after the pandemic. Chapters were removed to avoid repetition, and important information was condensed, Saklani claimed, “which will in no way affect a child’s knowledge.” Even the removal of single words, he said, like one that identified Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s assassin, as an upper-caste Hindu, was undertaken solely as part of that exercise. “You tell me, when content load is being reduced during times of such trauma, if the experts felt such-and-such thing should be removed, so it was. How is it such a big thing? I mean, are all Brahmins assassins?” Saklani said, referring to Godse. Brahmins sit atop the caste hierarchy and are a large voting bloc for Modi’s party.