11th century Arab traveller’s Alberuni’s observation that Hindus (as Indians were then known) have no sense of history. Indeed, they can scarcely distinguish it from mythology. Whether it’s Akbar, Aurangzeb and Shivaji or Curzon, Gandhi and Nehru, history writing in India is aimed at upholding greatness or reinforcing villainy. Revisionism is invariably a law and order problem.
Romila Thapar in one her lectures noted that History is a continuos process. Everyday there are new clues via excavations and findings that challenge the staus quo for new interpretation. However in India any new finding leads to mobocracy in the form of riots, goondaism rather than dialogue and debate through existing channels of communication. When James Laine came with his version of Shivaji Maharaj, a mob ransacked the mecca of history in India, Bhandarkar Institute, and destroyed rare manuscripts. John Maynard Keynes once quoted “When facts change, I change my mind. What do you do sir?” We have no tolerance about change and get emotional when the status quo is challenged. This is the violent part of our behaviour. The next is about how stupid we are. Good example is Nehru, who I always give due credit for the precarious state of many things in India, over population, illiteracy, poor human resource, dynastic rule, etc.
For a man who left the country ‘‘not better fed, clothed or housed, …more corruptly governed…with higher taxes, ever-rising prices, ever-acute foreign exchange difficulties, and more unemployment’’ than when he took charge, India has been too kind to Nehru. It’s time we took the mythology out of history. read more >>>