Controversial author Dina Nath Batra, who had succeeded in pulping American scholar Wendy Doniger's book "The Hindus" earlier this year, has now himself come under the scanner of historians who have slammed his books as racist fantasy.
Controversy erupted after Gujarat government prescribed six of his books for compulsory reading in 42,000 primary and secondary schools in the state with effect from 30 June.
Batra had filed a lawsuit against Doniger's book "The Hindus: An Alternative History" accusing the author of misrepresenting history and Hinduism. The publishers, Penguin India, then destroyed copies of the books.
However, historians such as Romila Thapar have now dismissed Batra's books as "fantasy."
They have criticised Batra's suggestions in the book to redraw the Indian map on the lines of the idea of "Akhand Bharat" propagated by right-wingers.
He has also come under severe criticism for his description of blacks as "negroes" who are "violent" and "half-baked criminals."
Mnaya Davis, an African student leader in Delhi, said about the racist slant, "We reject racism of any form. Such views on a particular community cannot be accepted in today's India. Any racialism propagated on an institutional level will be detrimental to the Indian society and can create havoc in future," The Telegraph reported.
Batra's suggestion of discarding the practice of blowing candles to celebrate birthdays and instead wearing swadeshi clothes, reciting mantras and feeding cows, has also fallen to scathing reactions.
"This is absurd. If education is about training children how to think, this approach will not work," Thapar told Hindustan Times.
Historian Irfan Habib, a Professor Emeritus at Aligarh Muslim University, told HT, "The contents are so absurd that any reaction would seem superfluous… I don't know what they will teach students when they have turned geography into fantasy."
Batra, in the middle of an uproar over his books being made compulsory in schools, has recommended a revision of the NCERT books.
"Books are a mode for instilling cultural values. NCERT books have failed to percolate the rich cultural landscape of our country. They are dotted with disgraceful words and distorted history. It is high time the books are revised," he told Hindustan Times.
Batra's association with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, known to be an influence on the Bharatiya Janata Party and its leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has also pulled the latter into the controversy. In fact, Modi has written a foreword in the books praising the author's work.
A translated excerpt reads as – "A teacher… gives shape to the future of the country... It is congratulatory that the Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks is publishing writer Dina Nath Batraji's literature. It is hoped that this inspirational literature will inspire students and teachers."