~ Pranav Kishore Saxena
‘History is an attempt to understand the past’, something that both the BJP and the RSS have either failed to understand or succeeded in ignoring. Since 2015, India has been experiencing an outburst of pro-Hindutva campaigns. The Modi government in November 2016 set up a committee on historical research to assess the correlation between ‘Indian History’ and ‘Hindu Epics’, like the Ramayana and Mahabharata to further ‘rewrite’ the history of ancient India, which they feel is appropriate.
Historical and cultural research was initiated by the British in India to control its society and polity. The Asiatic Society of Bengal, established by William Jones was the epicenter of this endeavor. Similar attributes have been copied by the current regime to establish the ‘Hindu’ dominance over India, however, the Ministry of Culture has clarified that the committee and its activities has nothing to do with Hinduism or Islam.
In an interview with The Hindu, Prof. Emerita Romila Thapar precisely said that ‘history is not written by committees but by individual historians’. The domino effect of such policies has been evident in various states in India where the ‘Muslim’ rulers or figures have been omitted from the history books. In Maharashtra, class VII students now study more about Chhatrapati Shivaji at the cost of omitting the Mughals. Other school level history books have seen missing sections related to Razia Sultan, Muhammad bin Tughlaq and other Muslim rulers which forces the otherwise secular public of India to question – Is India trying to reform its education or trying to eliminate a certain section of the ‘Indian society’ and treating its Muslim population as “second class citizens”?
A few months ago, in a rally, Sangeet Som, MLA of the Bharatiya Janata Party cleared his party’s stance on wiping out the Taj Mahal and the Mughal dynasty from the history of India. His claims of Shahjahan and Aurangzeb being “traitors” prove how history has been fabricated and delivered to ordinary citizens of India. The Nationalist historians and Hindu vigilantes perceive of ‘Indian culture’ as being the ‘Hindu culture’; they ignore India’s multicultural, multiethnic and multi-religious reality. India has always seen the influx of foreign men and women or ‘Mleccha’, the Sanskrit word for outlanders, who did not relate to the Brahmaical norms. But unlike the current regime and their ‘bhakts’, the ancient regimes were tolerant and accepting, which culminated in the formation of a multi-cultural India.
“History is not a magic show, but there is plenty of magic in it for those who have eyes to see”, wrote Jawaharlal Nehru. Perhaps, the formation of the committee on history was the magic Mr. Nehru uncannily warned us about. The rewriting or I’d say the fabrication of history would exacerbate the current political situation the country is in; this would be an attack on not only the secular nature of our education system, but also on our country’s historical and cultural identity.
Pranav Kishore Saxena is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The True Voice (TTV).
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