Small minds try to re-make history

The Maharashtra State Education Board removed chapters about Muslim rulers and Mughals from history textbooks last month.

Published: 27th September 2020 07:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th September 2020 07:36 AM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes

By re-writing history, can Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh delete history? What has happened has happened. By omitting facts from textbooks, we will not make them nonfacts; we will only make tomorrow’s students uninformed.

Throughout history and across cultures, those in power have tried to restructure history to suit themselves.

Facts were buried in the process, but they remained facts for impartial students to dig up and study. Being narrowly focussed on their self-interests, politicians are always inclined towards re-writing history with the aim of glorifying themselves.

The Maharashtra State Education Board removed chapters about Muslim rulers and Mughals from history textbooks last month.

Uttar Pradesh is doing the same thing now. A generation of Maharashtrians and Uttar Pradeshians will grow up ignorant of the fact that Mughals ruled India.

It will mean nothing to the Mughals. But it will mean illiteracy for those who are taught selective history.

It is strange that hardened ideologues do not see the negative side of this kind of approach to history. Sangeet Som, articulator of a hate-line BJP approach, had no hesitation to say: “History will be rewritten to erase Mughal Emperors from it.”

Who is he to do so? His boast means nothing because his mind is too small to grasp the significance of things. He was a critic of the Taj Mahal’s history, but felt compelled to accept that marvel in marble as a work of art. Beyond the Taj, however, Sangeet Som has a stand that is self-defeating and ignorance-based.

“What kind of history are you talking about,” he asked. “The same history in which the person who built the Taj Mahal imprisoned his father? Planned to annihilate all Hindus? I guarantee you that this history will be changed. Whether it is Babar, Akbar or Aurangzeb, the government is working to erase them from memory.”

No government in the world can erase historical figures from mankind’s memory. Unspeakable cruelties became state policy under rulers like Ivan the Terrible, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Idi Amin. But they will never be erased from our memory.

A Pope did everything from murder to incest (John XII, 954-964) but he too will remain in history, complete with his criminal record.

The Mughals not only built the Taj Mahal (which Rabindranath Tagore described as “a teardrop of love”) but also set certain standards that did India good. Ashoka and Akbar are rated as the greatest emperors of the past.

But it is worth remembering that Ashoka showed his greatness by feeling guilty about killing a hundred thousand people in the battle of Kalinga; remorse led him to embrace Buddhism and become a messiah of peace.

Akbar became a messiah of tolerance without a bloodstained Kalinga giving him a guilty conscience. He took Hindu wives but never asked them to convert to Islam.

He even prohibited cow slaughter in his empire. His initiative in getting the Mahabharata translated into Persian is legendary. Yogi Adityanath may boast about deleting the Mughal Period from history, but no Mughal, no Akbar, no Shah Jahan will get deleted from history.

The only consequence of his attempt will be more people wondering how yogis get into politics. Facts cannot be eliminated even by saffron-clad sanyasins.

The sensible course open to authorities like Adityanath is to explain the facts in context. They should teach why Ashoka became Ashoka The Great, why Akbar became Akbar The Great. (And why Yogi Adityanath did not rise to those levels of greatness.)

It became known last month that Iran has been trying to rewrite history. Its 2019 textbook contained a story depicting two little girls and three little boys playing outdoors. The 2020 version of the book had the picture minus the girls. Policymakers also decided that women were not good enough to study maths and physics.

This is all the more ironic because Iran is a country where there is a 50-50 male-female ratio in universities. The dictatorial Shah of Iran had banned the veil. But the 1979 revolution led to the black chador becoming common.

Religious training was now added to the national curriculum. In 2019, just last year, Omar Khayyam’s name disappeared from several textbooks. That space was given to poems about Iranian martyrs in Syria and Lebanon.

So, does Omar Khayyam cease to exist? When the clouds are cleared, his name will glitter across the sky like Akbar’s does in the Indian sky.

Re-writing history is the hope of small minds. Fortunately for mankind, small minds perish in their smallness.


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  • shesh

    History that Indians familiar with have been written post independence by Pro-Nehruvian scholars with a view to support Nehru's political ambition. The history that pro-Nehruvian scholars had written had ignored the cultural and other contributions of the Hindu rulers that ruled Indian sub-continent. The history that Indians have learned after independence is depicting the role of Pro-Nehru freedom fighters
    28 days ago reply
  • Srinivasan A

    We need to learn history of Vedic period and teachings of vedas and vedantas. Sanatana Dharma is our History. All other historical data are pollutants. Why should we have information under the disguise of history which contaminate human mind sir
    29 days ago reply
  • a.k.sehanobis

    Can anyone believe that there is no comment about this post?And you shout for freedom of Press.In one word- DISGUSTING.
    29 days ago reply
  • Raman

    What a waste of newsprint by this man:(
    29 days ago reply
  • a.k.sehanobis

    We are taught by the history books the rule of Lodis,Mughals and British.Ask any one to name the rulers of Mughals,everyone will be able to tell.They ruled for approx.250 years.Now Mauryas ruled for 500 years,Satvahanas again for 500 years,Guptas for 400 years,Pandyas for 800 years,Cholas for 1000 years-empire extended to indonesia,Malayasia,Cambodia,Pallavas for 600 years,Chalukyas for 600 years,Ahom Dynasty of Nrth East for 650 years.How many of us heard of their names and their Kings.The year was 1555.Rani Abbakka demolished the Portugese invaders not once but thrice.Why she does not have a place in our History Books.There are many more.When Atlee who succeded Churchill was asked about the sudden withdrawal of the Britishers from India,he said,they are worried about the safety of their citizens because of the armed revolts,obviously he was referring to INA and Navy revolt.Someone might have heard about INA,hardly anyone about the Navy one.There are many more of such armed revolts but hardly mentioned.But when Atlee was asked about Gandhi's impact of non-violence movement,his cryptic reply was -"Minimal". History must be rewritten to put in proper perspective.What we read is chronicled by left/marxist historians.The wrongs have to be righted.
    1 month ago reply
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