India joins US as Mughal history banned from books

India joins US as Mughal history banned from books

by Suswati Basu

Hot on the heels of books being banned in the US, it appears that India are following a similar suit by removing anything related to its Mughal history. The Indian government has removed chapters on the historic empire from school textbooks, citing a need to “streamline” the curriculum. However, many historians and opposition politicians have accused the government of trying to rewrite history to suit its own political agenda.

What is Mughal history and why India has banned it from books

The Mughal Empire was a Muslim empire that ruled over much of India from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The Mughals were a powerful and influential dynasty, and their rule had a profound impact on Indian culture and society.

Right-wing and nationalist groups in India have raised concerns about the glorification of Mughal emperors, arguing that they were foreign invaders who oppressed Hindus and destroyed Hindu temples. They have called for a revision of history textbooks to reflect this perspective.

On the other hand, many historians and scholars have criticised these efforts as an attempt to distort history for political and ideological purposes. They argue that the Mughal period was a significant chapter in India’s history, with its own cultural and artistic achievements, and that any attempt to erase or downplay it would be a disservice to the country’s heritage. Opposition politicians have accused the government of trying to whitewash the Mughals’ history and to promote a Hindu nationalist agenda.

The government has defended its decision, saying that it is simply trying to make the curriculum more manageable for students. However, many observers believe that the decision is part of a larger effort by the government to promote a particular view of Indian history.

What it means to history students?

From a personal perspective, as part of the School of Oriental and African Studies’ alumni, I was fortunate enough to study the Delhi Sultanate with the late great Professor Sunil Kumar (1956-2021). The renowned historian had written the prominent book ‘The Emergence of the Delhi Sultanate, 1192-1286’ and had taught in the history department between 2008 and 2010.

In an obituary by SOAS Professor Ulrich Pagel, he wrote: “Sunil’s pioneering work on the the Delhi Sultanate revolutionised existing historical perceptions of India’s ‘Muslim’ past, moving beyond a focus on state power to bring to life a rich and vibrant understanding of socio-political relations of this period […] he offered a fresh look on the creation of new societies, religious communities, and institutions in a new land, changing the way we conceive this formative period in the history of the subcontinent – and its implication to our days.” I spoke to him at length about my fascination on the Mughal’s incredible influence on India. He was kind enough to share his thoughts about the importance of understanding this mixed history.

taj mahal through an arch, India history Mughal books banned
Taj Mahal photo by Francesco Ungaro

Best books to learn about India’s Mughal history:

As a result, here are some of the best nonfiction books to learn about Mughal history in India:

In conclusion, banning books is a form of censorship that can have significant negative consequences for society. Once we start changing history, where do we draw the line? It violates the fundamental right of freedom of expression. Hence check out the list of banned books from the US, and keep up to date on this vital subject. Recently, we saw acclaimed historian Nandini Das, author of Courting India: England, Mughal India and the Origins of Empire at HistFest 2023.

Check out These Bodies of Water author Sabrina Mahfouz’s take on accurate history.

Subscribe to my newsletter for new blog posts, recommendations & episodes. Let’s stay updated!

You may also like


HistFest 2023: historians remind us that our past is more important than ever - How To Be... August 10, 2023 - 4:15 am

[…] 2023 returned to discuss topical issues including the war in Ukraine and the Mughal Empire amid controversy over whitewashing history in India. This dynamic festival celebrates the brightest and the best in […]

Wolfson Prize nominee Professor Hakim Adi on redundancy and recognition - How To Be... September 9, 2023 - 11:43 pm

[…] Read: India joins US as Mughal history banned from books […]


Leave a Reply

Are you sure want to unlock this post?
Unlock left : 0
Are you sure want to cancel subscription?

Discover more from How To Be Books

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue Reading

%d bloggers like this: