By Ashok Swain – In India, the on-going debate over the rewriting of the history reflects the intense conflict between competing visions of national identity that has overshadowed India’s public and political discourse for the past three decades.
India has a long record of quarreling over its own past, but for the last four years it seems like history has become a central theater of the political wars. There is nothing unusual to look to the past for answers to contemporary political projects and to seek the endorsement of history’s heroes. However, it becomes complicated and to same extent dangerous when these heroes and their ideologies are not presented based on facts but through manipulated messaging.
To complicate matters further, regime-sponsored historians are often approaching the past with both eyes on the majoritarian politics of the present regime.
One of the dangers of this politicized historiography project is that it uses the help of the dominant ideology of the present to find answer to the historical questions and, more importantly, tend to intentionally misinterpret the available pieces of evidence.
When historians do not scientifically interpret the evidence but get guided by political masters to manufacture a politically suitable version of history, it becomes a huge disservice both to the idea of history and to the health and character of country’s political debate.
Falsifications of historical evidence and symbols designed to discredit political rivals are universal features of the struggle for power. However, the really serious problem arises when a regime, intoxicated with a total control of political power, tries to extend this monopoly to the interpretation of history and to impose a prefabricated biased version of the history.
Nowhere else in the world is the fault-line so volatile between religious and ethnic groups as in India and it is becoming increasingly dangerous by Modi government’s obsessive desire and forceful plan to rewrite country’s history and manufacturing an interpretation, which suits its agenda for majoritarian politics. more>