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Indian History Needs Reinterpretation
"History played a major role in staging the French revolution, rise of Nazi in Germany, the war against the Tsar regime in Russia and all the events that played a role in changing the world political scenario. History puts before on a number of personalities whom one can admire as a role model and imitate."
Editorial : September 24, 2007
India has crossed over sixty years of its freedom which makes a great point for every Indian to celebrate. But this reason of celebration comes amidst a socio-economic conflict that is mainly based upon the confusion regarding what is Indian and what is not Indian – be it ideology, way of life, thoughts or behaviour of the Indians, attitude of people holding power and positions. Experiencing freedom since last 60 years, India has a lot to explain and exemplify for the rest of the world and a lot to analyze for setting a road for the future.
Although I haven’t experienced the joy and mood of 15th August 1947, as a student of history I can imagine that one part of the nation was busy celebrating freedom whereas the other part was suffering from communal clash where each community acted in a barbaric manner against the other. One part was singing the national anthem and the other part was experiencing a nightmare and crying for loosing their kith and kin, seeing their relations chopped on the street, children being tossed into the air. However, India won the rarest kind of freedom with an invisible but practiced weapon of non-violence.
The communal fight between two major sects of India that started with the partition plan is still the issue influencing Indian politics and socio-economic structure. Ruled by communal disharmony and religious intolerance, India experienced series of violent acts and conflicts since achievement of freedom. From the partition in 1947 to the Mumbai Blasts, Babri Mosque demolition and the Godhra incident with shocking riots in Gujarat in its aftermath, all were because of the disharmony and hatredness among two major religious communities of the land that have been living together since more than 1500 years.
If you look at history and the relationship between these two communities, it is much more than what has been confirmed by different scriptures and archaeological evidences so far in India and other countries they had a trade and maritime relationship with this land. The Persian, Mongolian, Afghan rulers invaded India, but the land was never ruled from Kabul or Mongolia. The invaders based in this land and ruled it as their own kingdom. Wealth was never being drained to other Kingdoms.
But the British or any other European company never thought the same and their primary interest was to drain maximum to their own country as dividends. They never wanted any development in India with a true spirit but to make their business comfortably and effectively. Tell about railways, road transport or even education which was meant to create some clerks – all to pursue their economic activities aggressively and rule the land with an iron hand. In fact, India was looking after the interests of Great Britain during the 200 years of British dominion. They wrote the history of this land which is still the basic history of India. Although lots of researches have given new interpretations to different facts and events and new dimension to the history, they are only available as references to the researchers.
Communal harmony was intact even during early British rule. There was separate law codified for Hindus and Muslims. There was partition of Bengal on the basis of religion. But still the society was One Indian Society. The struggle for freedom was everybody’s struggle and the ultimate goal was making India free from outsiders’ clutch.
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In the political history of India, the word ‘outsider’ meant to the British, French, Dutch and Portuguese companies who came to this land for business and in course of time desired to capture political power over the land in which the British came out successful. The driving force behind this desire was never to make the people of this land civilized, educated and politically aware but simply to have monopoly over the economic activities and squeeze as much as possible what the previous invaders hardly did. The early invaders came to India, conquered it and made it their kingdom, their land. They ruled over India but never treated it as a colony ruled by a remote government as it was in case of the British.
But during their rule the invisible but strong divider was set in the minds of both the communities which we have been unable to vanish during last 60 years, rather we are fed to keep it intact and burning. As fed by the British historians, we still believe that Islam rulers of India were also outsiders like British. This basic essence of Indian history played major role in breaking the Hindu Muslim unity and brotherhood. Now both the communities have grown in terms of population, social, political and economic status, but the minds and thoughts are still not free from the influence of communal fragmentation formula set by the British during the age of subjugation. As a result, today, an Indian is less Indian than a Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian or a Muslim.
In order to wipe out this division of mind, India should work for shaping the minds of its future citizens from their childhood and history plays a major role in moulding a child into a responsible and committed citizen. Unfortunately during past sixty years, we never realized the importance of history and its role in shaping the mind of a child by imbibing in him the spirit of nationality and a sense of pride for the nation.
We have a special Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) to support and promote researches in History. But it is more into internal politics and controversies than promoting academic research in the domain of history. The universities, research council and similar bodies never took this fact seriously that India needs its history re-interpreted and re-written to shape its next generation citizens for building a nation that is developed, poverty free and communal clash free as well. Even the governments who ruled the nation never tried to find the root of the issues that are ruling over the minds of Indians or are becoming threats for the nation.
I still remember my few minutes conversation with Mr. Sankar Reddy who was then a Deputy Director of Andhra Pradesh State Institute of Rural Development. I was there to get some information about the success of various rural development programmes in AP. When he knew my interest in the History of India, he got excited and told, “history is the most interesting and essential subject. But the irony is, our people never learnt anything from history.”
History played a major role in staging the French revolution, rise of Nazi in Germany, the war against the Tsar regime in Russia and all the events that played a role in changing the world political scenario. History puts before us a number of personalities whom one can admire as a role model and imitate. So the major task before us is to re-interpret and re-write the history of India wherefrom our next generation would be able to draw inspiration, learn the issues and situations that played a major role in social and political changes and find a role model whom they can imitate. This would be the major breakthrough in creating a brigade of responsible citizens to take charge of the nation building.