as an enterprise has gone through different phases. The
struggle over different methods has become a major point
of debate in our country, especially since the coming
to power of BJP led coalition. It has been projected that
the present (NCERT) history books are insensitive to the
feeling of some communities; they have leftist orientation,
they are 'one-sided' and so they need to be changed. Already
process has begun and 'Historians' whose identity is being
kept a secrete, are already working on new version of
History, which is to be introduced in our schools and
colleges. Professional history bodies have opposed this
move. The tempers have risen to the extent that the PM
Mr. Vajpayee (IE 25 Nov.) had to say that 'If History
is one sided it should be changed', while President K.R.
Narayanan had to caution that, 'We should not change History
(Mid-Day 30th Dec. 2001), and the Minister in charge came
down scathingly on the Historians who had written these
books. Dr.. Murli Manohar Joshi (Hindu 30th Dec.2001)
said, "there are two types of terrorism facing the country.
One, ``intellectual terrorism'', which, had ``spread like
a slow poison'' because of the ``wrong presentation of
Indian history'' by Left historians and was ``more dangerous''
than the ``cross-border terrorism''.
Why so much heat over this issue? Why is
Dr. Joshi so incensed with the present NCERT History books?
Why he could not even wait for the new History books being
written by new 'Historians', which will be out in the
market soon? Why certain portions from the prevalent books
have been deleted in the middle of the year on an emergency
In a way what is going on is shadow boxing.
Two views of looking at society are clashing on the battleground
of Historiography. J.S.Mill was the first who periodized
Indian history into Hindu, Muslim and British (not Christian)
periods. This kept being taught for long times. In this
way of looking at the past Religion is the sole marker
of society. It is a communal view as communalism basically
stands for looking at social phenomenon through the eyes
of religion alone. It is another matter that Mill did
not characterize the British colonial period as the Christian
period. Here the predominace is given to the Kings and
rulers and their motives are derived from their religious
faiths. It leaves lot of events unexplained as to how
Muslim Kings allied with Hindu nobles and Kings? (eg.
Akbar+Mansingh against Rana Pratap+Hakim Khna Sur, Aurangzeb+Raja
Jaising against Shivaji + Siddi Sambal) Why there were
battles between Kings of same religions? It also does
not explain as to why Muhammad Gazani had Tilak and Sondhi
as his Generals and his army which attacked Somnath temple
had good number of Hindu soldiers. It also does not explain
as to why a Hindu King Raja Harshdev of Kashmir appointed
an officer called Devottpatan Nayak(an officer who uproots
the images of Gods). It goes without saying that Kings
did not take up crusades, Jihads or DharmaYudhas for the
spread of their religions but for the expansion of their
empires. Barring post-Kalinga Ashok not many rulers used
the state machinery for the spread of their religions.
This view of History glorifies the Kings
belonging to the ruling communal outfits and denigrates
the Kings of 'other' religions. Like if the King belonging
to 'our' religion wins over new territories He is valiant
and brave. If the king belonging to 'other religion' comes
to 'our ' territory it is projected as an act of cruelty
and oppression. This view also cleverly hides the prevalent
social hierarchies, the oppression of Shudras, landless
peasant and women etc. This view of History goes very
well with the colonial policies, which harped, on the
divide and rule to prolong their rule here. This way of
looking at history goes well with society where status
quo is actively promoted by state authorities. In Pakistan,
plagued by domination of Mullahs in state policies, more
so from the era of Zia Ul Haq, the colonial Historiography
principles have not much changed and the History begins
with Harappa and then takes a straight jump to the Muslim
rule in Sind centuries later, period belonging to Hindu
kings has been deleted from the books presumably because
it hurts the sentiments of the Mullhas ruling the roost.
In India, post colonial period, attempts
were made to change the communal orientation of History.
The process of change has not been complete. But the direction
was towards introducing Rational view of History as far
as possible. In this attempt the best efforts were after
the formation of NCERT in 1961. Amongst rational historians,
professional historians, the attempt is to look at the
history and society from multifaceted angel, religion
not being the only determinant of analysis. Here the emphasis
is on the sources and the interpretation of sources is
done in conjunction with other parallel information's,
literature of the time, evolution of language etc. It
is not that this science of History has reached its acme,
what is important is that the attempt has been in this
direction. Many a professional Historians who emerged
and earned reputation and name in their disciplines had
largely been sympathetic to progressive and left orientation,
but surely there are an equal number of non-left rational
historians. But as far as their Historiography is concerned
their contribution has been a landmark in professional
excellence by any standards. Some of these are Romila
Thapar, Irfan Habib, K.N.Panikkar, Arjun Dev, R.S. Sharma,
and Bipan Chandra etc.
So where is the problem. Why Dr. Joshi thinks
that these historians are worse than the terrorists? Why
he thinks that this Rational History has poisoned the
minds of society?
The answer to this question lies in Dr.
Joshi's commitment to the ideology of Hindutva, which
aims at Hindu Rashtra. In contrast to Secular Democratic
India, the outcome of our Freedom Struggle and enshrined
in our constitution, Hindu Rashtra aims at a society which
is inheritor of the social values and social structure
of pre-modern times. It is upholder of social relationships
outlined in the Holy Hindu books like Manu Smriti etc.
Here is the basic conflict. On one side a process of social
transformation towards Liberty Equality and Fraternity,
a breaking of the birth based hierarchies and on the other
the aim to have a society based on birth-based hierarchies
of caste and gender as reflected in the Hindu Holy scriptures.
A rational view of History as attempted in the NCERT books
aims to raise the questions of caste and gender hierarchy,
it tries to look at the society beyond the religion of
rulers and so promotes a way of thinking which is capable
of questioning the social relationships. This view is
dangerous to the monolithic projection of religious communities,
held by communal view.
That's why the history as taught in Pakistan
has adopted the communal view, that's why the attempts
are on to undo this rational method in India. The effort
is to introduce and adopt the 'model' of RSS shakha history
to be as THE 'national' view. In this view the pages of
Hindu warriors winning and demolishing other's land and
kingdoms are Golden pages. In this, the period when caste
system was at its peak, the gender injustice was at peak
is golden. In this view the society is one homogenous
mass and rivers of milk and honey are flowing, the kings
are great because they respect the Brahmins and give them
generous gifts. The source of King's wealth, the sweat
of shudra peasant is not to be registered as it will upset
the applecart of status quo. In this view the Nation building
has been done by the glorious RSS and Hindu nationalists
like Hedgewar, Golwlakar, Savarkar and Godse (the last
name is not projected assertively but should be a logical
continuation of the Hindu Rashtra politics), here the
modernizer of India, (which resulted in breaking of status
quo to some extent), Nehru, is a villain as he brought
in 'western' values in our society, and here partition
of the country took place due to Gandhi's appeasement
of Muslims, here the RSS and Hindu Nationalists got us
the Freedom while the Indian Nationalists were in jails
to enjoy the five star luxuries offered to them by the
British. So why wait till the new books on these lines
become our new Gita's or Bible's?
We cannot tolerate that the fact that Beef
was eaten in Vedic times, is written in the books, as
it weakens the emotive appeal of our Hindutva movement.
Here we can not tolerate the mention of the fact that
caste system was oppressive to Shudras. In this we cannot
permit the pages in the books, which mention that around
the place of Ram's birth, Ayodhya, there is no evidence
of human habitation during the period when he is supposed
to have lived. So along with these we have also to tear
the pages of books, which mention about the plundering
acts of Hindu kings, as Hindu kings can do no wrong, contrary
to the fat that plundering other kings territory was a
'normal' operation for kings armies irrespective of their
So this 'Nationalist' exercise has been
undertaken. The Rational historians are worse than terrorists.
How do we deal with terrorist is too well known. How to
'deal' with these historians, who have 'poisoned' our
minds is being articulated by this warrior of Hindu Rashtra
politics, who also happens to have obtained a doctorate
in the 'Western science' based on 'western' methods! One
gets the feeling of de ja vu in the context of looking
at Historians as worse than terrorists. Pastor Martin
Nimoeller's 'First they cam for Jews' is too well known
to be recounted here. Keeping faithfulness to Hitler's
'Race based nationalism' the practitioners of 'Religion
based Nationalism' are inventing enemies one by one. After
Muslims and Christians, now it is the turn of Communists,
the historians. Guru Golwalkar's prescription, Muslims,
Christians and Communists are threats to Hindu Nation
is being kept in mind by Dr. Joshi when sequencing the
order in which they have to be 'dealt with'. And as we
by now know that any body talking of Human Rights, liberalism,
rationalism can be labeled as communist, the job of 'treating'
them as 'terrorist' will be easier. Sangh Parivar the
fountain head of Hindu Rashtra politics has to thank Dr.
Joshi for 'logically' proving that these rational historians
are communists and so there by the search for the 'next'
enemy, who is needed for consolidating the Hindu vote
bank becomes easier. And this literally will kill more
than one birds with single trishul.