When world history can be re-written, why not India’s?

When world history can be rewritten, why not India’s?

This Article First Appeared In thedailyguardian On Jan 14, 2023

Re-writing History mainly serves two purposes – firstly it refreshes our memory of events. The second purpose is perhaps more important. It ‘fills in details’ and addresses the gaps, grey areas existing in the current literature. There is much hue and cry from a section of society when attempts are being made to re-write Indian History – a history that has been a victim of distortion and incompleteness. Perhaps this exercise threatens to dislodge some from their zone of comfort- a warm cozy place of belief that Indians were a bunch of uncivilized barbarians before the British enslaved the country and taught us manners. Their ‘grooming’ by the whites is so powerful that any attempt to revisit certain aspects of history will be met with severe resistance – after all their knowledge is from writings on India by army officers and administrators of the East India Company. Lt. Colonel James Todd, Major General John Malcolm, Joseph Cunningham, Captain Grant Duff Lt. R.F.Burton were the likes who wrote at length. Their account of India, seen thru their lens can be compared to the ‘narration’ of a bank heist by the leader of gang looting it. But the Indian left leaning historians would rather get their perspective than that of the bank manager and employees who actually experienced the assault. Unfortunately many Indian leaders too fell into the trap set by these narratives.

They indirectly contributed to the distortion of Indian history– Justice M.G.Ranade, Mahatma Phule, Brahmo Samaj leader Keshavachandra, Gopal Krishna Gokhale founder of Servants of Indian Society and Lokamanya Tilak were a few who allowed their mindspace to be influenced. If glorifying Ghazanvis, Ghoris, Gulams, Turks, Afgans, Khiljis, Tughalaqs, Lodis and Mughals as brave and noble became the calling of left leaning historians of India, scholars like Vishwanth Kasinath Rajwade, Balshastri Hardas, R C Mazumdar, B.D.Basu, G.S.Sardesai’s attempted to correct those versions. It was perhaps Veer Savarkar’s lectures between 1950-51 that exposed how Indian history is written with a strong anti-Hindu slant. These lectures appeared in newspapers later but no publisher was ready to publish his book ‘Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History’ – a book that destroys the myth that Hindus suffered defeat upon defeat, and asserts that Hindus survived aggressions because they fought tooth and nail to preserve their religion and culture. Those opposing revision of Indian History should know that in historiography, reinterpretation of a historical account based on new data and new evidence is quite common. It is not a controversial process in fact is much needed to set the records straight.

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