Monday, 30th October 2017

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The 'sangh parivar' ignores the diversity that makes India

Its rewritings of history are dishonest and dangerous

  • Published 29.10.19, 10:03 AM
  • Updated 29.10.19, 10:03 AM
  • 3 mins read
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When Union home minister Amit Shah asks historians to rewrite Indian history, he seems to have an exercise of fabrication in mind (PTI)

Sir — The call by the Union home minister, Amit Shah, for rewriting the history of this country from an ‘Indian point of view’ seemed to be clear in its intent — comprehensively amending history to serve the political and ideological goals of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the sangh parivar (“New reading”, Oct 23). History must, of course, also be viewed through an Indian lens for perspective. But the problem lies in what the sangh parivar defines as ‘Indian’.

The sangh parivar’s idea of India lies in glorifying the country’s past by focusing on the history of Hindu society and politics, thus ignoring the diversity of the nation and contributions of other communities. Subaltern histories or those of minority communities are often erased. Endeavours such as these tend to establish the history of the majority community as the historical truth while excluding or denigrating others. Myths are presented as reality and unscientific, distorted claims are promoted as ‘science’. Such rewritings of history are dishonest and dangerous.

When Shah asks historians to rewrite Indian history, it is this exercise of fabrication that he seems to have in mind. This, combined with the right wing’s intolerance of different opinions, will lead to the erasure of competing views. While there might be some truth to the notion that historical writing in India has been predominantly left-wing, multiple strands of history have emerged and flourished in post-Independence India. An investigation of historiography thus far will attest to this. While history is often written from the victor’s point of view, other versions are equally valid and must exist in democratic societies.

Shovanlal Chakraborty,

Calcutta

Sir — It is a mystery why the Union government and its ministers are portraying themselves as experts in history. It is impossible to claim absolute truths in history since several facets of any historical event remain unearthed. By projecting the sepoy mutiny of 1857 as the first war of independence, the government is undermining the historical significance of the battle of Plassey and the defiance of Siraj ud-Daulah against the British in 1757.

Nevertheless, these determinations should be left to historians. It seems that the claims of the home minister, Amit Shah, is premised predominantly on the views of V.D. Savarkar. Several ministers have displayed their ignorance in matters of history and science by their statements. The home minister must refrain from making demands for rewriting history and focus on credible work produced by established historians.

Abhijit Chakraborty,

Howrah

Sweet victory

Sir — The manner in which the Indian men’s cricket team won the home Test series against South Africa by 3-0 was remarkable (“Perfect series win, says Virat”, Oct 23). The team must be congratulated for taking their overall tally to 240 points in the World Test Championship points table of the International Cricket Council. However, South Africa’s performance has been more disappointing than expected.

The performance of the front-line Indian batsmen was magnificent and laid the foundation for the win. The high run count and robust bowling led to the team’s victory. Rohit Sharma, with his impressive score of 529 runs, was justly named the Man of the Series. On the other hand, the vacuum left by the bowler, Jasprit Bumrah, was filled by Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav.

It is disheartening to see South Africa, which used to be a cricketing force to be reckoned with, consistently perform so poorly. The captain, Faf du Plessis, has conceded that there is room for improvement in the structure of domestic cricket in South Africa. One hopes that the success of the Indian team continues, paving the way for its victory in the World Test Championship.

Jayanta Datta,

Hooghly

Sir — The vice-captain of the Indian cricket team, Rohit Sharma, must be congratulated for his maiden double century in the third Test match against South Africa, thus becoming the fifth Indian opener to score over 500 runs in a Test series. Sharma’s batting style for Tests is similar to the kind of batting one would expect in one-day internationals. This enabled the team to reach a high score in a relatively short period of time, thus contributing to the victory. Sharma’s elevation as the opener for the squad has been a positive move.

S.S. Paul,

Nadia

Treat with love

Sir — A café in China recently came under fire for painting Chow Chow dogs to resemble pandas in a bid to keep up with the competitive business of pet cafés. While pet cafés can have a positive impact — many of them aim for the rehabilitation and adoption of dogs and cats — the recent incident must be questioned. Painting dogs to look like the national animal of China is not only gimmicky but also hazardous for the Chow Chows. Dyeing their fur is dangerous; it can cause allergic reactions to their skin, nose and eyes. Animals are not props for human entertainment. They must be treated with love.

Dia Roy,

Calcutta