Much reproving clamour is tendered by the idealistic young lot, having grown up hearing of naught but stories of an India in progress- advancing in science, particularly space science, inspiriting stories of the late president Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and many others, enkindling within the impressionable students a sense of hope for India’s future — only for them to be disillusioned with the centrality that religion and culture seem to have assumed in contemporary India. Such an unpardonable defilement of the India of their dreams; an unpardonable retrogression from science to religious revanchism! But alas, objectivity would reveal the utter sea of disingenuousness they were gullibly subsumed by — the India celebrating its ‘unity and diversity’ existed but in a chimera; in the fecund abstractions of the academic elite.
India, contrary to the academically popular but now commonly unpopular narrative, did not commence from an intellectually prescient position. Reading Arun Shourie’s mordantly written book Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud one would helpfully be acquainted with the innumerable lies that historians have included in school-level history textbooks in ostensible pursuit of national unity; to preserve the secular fabric of India. Or so they have often claimed.
These historians had been, obviously, patronized by the government. It is reasonable to infer that the government accepted the narrative spun by them, nay even itself possibly instructed them to do so. Why? Why these undeservedly punctilious attempts to portray Mughal rulers as tolerant and secular, for instance, or in the other event justification of what they did?
From Shourie’s book, it emerges that there had been issued written government orders to omit the depredations of Islamist conquests of India, lest it imperil an already precarious Hindu-Muslim unity. But why would it imperil this putative unity? Why should Indian Muslims vest profuse interest in the flattering depiction of the Delhi Sultanate or the Mughals?
Such a profuse interest could only be explained in the event that Indian Muslims as a whole, aberrations notwithstanding, did in those days indeed ideologically identify with the anti-Hindu genocidal instincts of these rulers. It may be too sensitive to float this proposition today, but one man did not fear writing as much: Ambedkar. While he quoted some other leader’s comments on Muslims professing affinity towards the Islamist tyrants and Hindus professing affinity towards the Hindu kings who resisted them, the flow of his seminal book Pakistan or the Partition of India seems to indicate his concurrence with this observation.
If this was known to successive governments of post-independence India, as well as the pre-independence Congress, why did they expend much energy in unscrupulously fabricating history so as to portray a general historical unity between Hindus and Muslims with only minor feuds characterizing their larger relationship, which was imperiled only by the cunning of the colonial British, but that the heroic Congress now intended to rectify this error — all the while being oblivious to the age-old apothegm “truth cannot be hidden forever, and it must eventually emerge”? How did none of them discern that the eventual emergence of uncomfortable historical truths would induce great social tremors in the future?
These questions imply that the Congress leaders themselves knew of the precarious relationship between the Hindus and the Muslims. If so, on what grounds did they purport that Hindus and Muslims could live together as one people and oppose the Partition? Or were they all idealistic dunces of first order? I refuse to believe so, given that the Congress had in those days a ground presence worthy of rodomontade. They would surely have had an idea of on-ground realities in these matters.
Pakistan or the Partition of India is to my mind a classic that has endured the test of seven and a half decades, and serves as an illuminating explanation of all that has gone wrong in India; of the continuing mass appeal to religion and suchlike.
Those overwhelmed by accusations and counter-accusations by both sides of the religious spectrum; those tired of the “woe betide the extremist factions of Hindus and Muslims imperiling our secular national fabric” bromide; those in want of an explanation why religion appeals so much to Indians, would do well to read Ambedkar’s book. I cannot praise it enough without sounding like his devotee. It is fine to celebrate him for his role in piloting the Constitution and bringing to the fore the injustices historically faced by the oppressed castes. It is more enlightening to celebrate him for the much larger seer that he was.
Those who know by now of the serial lies of government-patronized “distinguished historians” so far, but also distrust the present day Hindu nationalist narratives, would understandably desire to start from a neutral point. As someone sympathetic to the contemporary Hindu nationalist groundswell, but who also believes that intellectual soundness can help it amass more sympathizers in the future, a neutral point is perhaps the most sagacious stepping stone I can recommend. Ambedkar’s analysis is perfect, for it is not only the beginning, but can far surpass anything that vocal elements could proffer today. For he beat them all with his intellect.
The book answers it all.