The Forum-Why Indian History Needs To Be Re-Written?

Updated: Jan 25

I feel lost when I visit historical monuments in India and individuals of my age have to rely on mass media content to become aware of our culture.



The question of re-writing Indian History has come quite often to my mind. Of course, I don't have the knowledge to create something of this sophisticated nature. But, even in school, I found history classes seen through a common lens of Marxist or communist scholars or if one can safely say, BIASED.

The Indian subcontinent has a rich history that has been built over centuries. It has seen one of the first civilizations and settlements ever known to man, the triumphs of great kings and queens, and the invasion of Mughal and the British. There is no country in this world that shares such rich culture and heritage. With the extensive magnitude of this study, it is very obvious that there are many concerning gaps that need to be filled. The debate to rewrite Indian history was contemplated for many years. But it was only in 2019 when the Union and Home Minister Amit Shah expressed his desire to put this into effect. With his statement on the issue, the debate sparked in the public forums.


We had a rich history, culture, art, literature, lifestyle before the spread of Buddhism, invasion by the Mughals and British. The crimes committed during both the invasions can be said to be of greater scope than the holocaust. Hence, there is a need for a continuous reminder amongst the youth of today regarding the atrocities committed by these invaders.


I remember my parents visiting the Golden temple and returning with comic books illustrating the atrocities exercised upon Sikh gurus and warriors who refused to convert. These men were brave and virtuous whose names we never heard of before. Several scholars from ‘renowned’ universities have even given baseless justification to the crimes committed by the invaders and went on to say that the numbers have been ‘exaggerated’.


In college, I mostly read about contemporary India (events of pre-independence and post-independence). The modules we studied highlighted some major achievements of the Indian National Congress. But these modules lacked an opposition perspective and quoted politicians when they were making a personal attack on the Gandhi family candidates. The perspective of the INC in the book and the lack of solid study on the opposition or any different perspective again made the whole study and class discussions futile.



'By re-writing history Hindu nationalists lay claim to India' was a Reuters article which the agency posted in 2018 and it elucidated that the government of India has established a committee who were assigned to rewrite history. Moreover the committee was assigned to find archeological finds to connect Hindus being the first inhabitant of the land. Francois Gautier’s research work published under the title ''A history of India as it happened not as it has been written” brings compelling arguments suggesting that the first inhabitants of the land were the Indus people who shared unique cultures. Suggesting that ‘Hindu Nationalists’ want their claim to India is a baseless argument. India and the Hindu Dharma have been secular even before this word was first coined in a Christian context in the 16th Century by the west. Religion and ideology have no role to play in this activity, and it will be best if we do not label this change.


Throughout the course of history individuals like Babur and Aurangzeb have been painted in all sorts of colours. For Babur, a television show like ‘The Empire’ doesn’t improve his image. At the end of the day, he was still invading villages and killing innocents, building fears amongst people and creating a gigantic ocean of men to fight for him. As for Aurangzeb, on one hand, he’s a man who imprisoned his own father and killed his own brothers to secure the throne for himself, he is accused of forced conversions and killing Indian gurus and on the other hand, it is he, who is said to have protected temples from being demolished quite contrary to the popular belief.



Western Europe, once upon a time, had adopted ideas, literature from the Indian subcontinent. Later there was a drop in popularity of Hindu texts and literature and a rise in Greek philosophy. Western Europe at present gives Greece the credit for ‘democracy’ but in reality, it was in India this concept first had originated. The kings in India were Hindu but could be challenged by the constitution. In the West, the rise of Greek philosophy made the westerns hostile to the practices they once had adopted citing that they were of ‘barbaric kind’.


In contemporary Indian history, only people such as Nehru and Gandhi have been given importance. Sure, Mr. Gandhi and ex-Prime Minister Nehru held important positions during the era of the Indian Freedom struggle, but there are several freedom fighters such as Sardar Vallabhai Patel and Subhash Chandra Bose whose contribution had been more than our two figures of perfection. Also, it is imperative to mention that the British are responsible for setting a religious divide between the Hindus and the Muslims.


So, what is the real truth? Will we ever know the real Indian history as it happened? It is a sad reality that historians are trying to reinforce and construct convenient narratives of events. They would build arguments in such a way that it is supporting the beliefs of a particular set of ideologies. But to ask bigger questions such as the consequences of the above-said exercise would be what effect would it have on today's generation?


I have known individuals who show a sharp interest in history but not enough to pursue it as a career. Unfortunately, they would prefer to read the subject in a streamlined approach. Of course, people would be naturally inclined to read a story that is easily available and written in simple language. It is difficult to find a single good source for the stories. There have been several narratives written overtime to support a particular set of individuals. It becomes difficult to know the truth.


In the sense of the ever-shifting narratives in Indian history, the youth of today are not able to truly appreciate the culture and heritage. Often engaging in sharp criticism without actually educating themselves on the grounds of religious texts and past events.

The project has its own ups and downs. One can not change political and historical facts to please the masses. Hence, this exercise should be taken up by qualified experts.



Sources and Mentions-

1. Special mention- Francois Gautier ‘A History Of India As It Happened Not As It Has Been Written’ Saroj Chadha, Blunt And Frank, Times Of India https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/blunt-frank/rewriting-indian-history-a-view-point/ 2. By re-writing Indian history, Hindu nationalists lay claim to India, Rupam Jain and Tom Lasseter https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/india-modi-culture/ 3. Looking at the pros and cons of call for rewriting history, Staish Mishra, Observer Research Foundation https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/looking-at-the-pros-and-cons-of-call-for-rewriting-history-57008/

Images

1. Amit Shah https://www.siasat.com/history-needs-be-rewritten-amit-shahs-call-1696722/ 2. Guru Tegh Singh https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guru_Tegh_Bahadur#/media/File:Guru_teg_bahadur.jpg 3. Francois Gautier Book https://images.app.goo.gl/vdTZynfHPK4CRTWyCredits All the remaining designs have been taken from Canva.


 

About the author


The author of the above article, Mehak Mathur, is pursuing the Bachelor Of Strategic Communication and Journalism degree at Mumbai University.


“My main motive is to provide people with factual and relevant information and hope to ignite their passions, help them connect with one another conducting insightful discussions and see the bigger picture.”

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