Scholarly, non-political use – The Shillong Times
By Dr S. Saraswathi
Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, referring to the findings of ongoing excavations in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, which have revealed remains of the Tamirabarani civilization more than 3,000 years old, endorsed the Minister’s point of view in leader of Tamil Nadu, MP Stalin, according to which the history of India must be rewritten. . He said this had to be done “with an Indian perspective and not through a colonial lens”. The revision of history textbooks is on the agenda of the BJP.
The need to rewrite Indian history and overhaul the history curriculum and textbooks has been repeatedly emphasized by some historians, scholars, political and social leaders in recent years. While pre-independence books were laden with colonial prejudices, post-independence research, with rare exceptions, is skewed in its coverage. Contributions from some areas and individuals are highlighted and many others omitted. The result is a partial and distorted knowledge of our own past, even among the most educated.
Home Secretary Amit Shah, speaking at a seminar at the Hindu University of Banaras two years ago, called for rewriting history – an idea that still elicits a swift response from supporters and supporters alike. opponents of academics and others. There seem to be differences even on historical facts as there is selection and interpretation in the presentation of facts, including the thoughts and events behind a phenomenon. Shah called for rewriting history from the “Indian point of view” and asked, “Who is preventing us from changing history?” meaning history books. He entrusted historians and the people with the responsibility of preserving and rewriting the history of the nation.
The intention of the government of Tamil Nadu is to begin Indian history by tracing the thriving commercial culture that Tamils had with other countries. Keeladi excavations have proven the existence of a rich riverine civilization on the banks of the Vaigai River and that Tamils were scholars in the 6th century BC.
The rewriting of history has two major dimensions. One is based on new documentary and archaeological discoveries supplementing and / or correcting previous knowledge. The other is to bring to light facts that were missed, omitted, deleted, or misinterpreted for various reasons in order to provide balanced and unbiased coverage, which is the real story’s biggest enemy. On September 16, Tamil Nadu celebrated the centenary of the introduction of communal representation in the civil service, which came into effect after the dyarchic government of the Madras presidency passed a resolution and passed a decree determining the turns of communities. recognized in a unit of 12 nominations. This sparked the government’s curiosity to delve into history and politics.
Stalin spoke about the collection of pre-independence documents relating to Tamil Nadu. In fact, using these materials, there are many research theses, published and unpublished, prepared for research degrees in Madras and other universities in India and abroad. But, not all of them have found the entry in the history books.
Rewriting history is not changing history. History cannot be changed, but historical writings can be. The rewriting under discussion in India consists of correcting errors and distortions in the available texts and adding new findings. This exercise is long overdue in our country.
Several instances of politically guided and led rewriting of history have taken place with reference to world wars primarily to justify the decisions and actions of a nation. Japanese war crimes, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Croatian and Serbian war crimes, Turkey and the Armenian genocide are major historical events that have been rewritten. South Korea, Japan, China, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are some of the countries that have dramatically changed the content of history books and documented historical events.
Historical revisionism is a broader exercise that extends to shedding light on new evidence and new interpretations to help resuscitate memories of important actors and significant incidents that are part of real history. This leads to changes in historical writings, the rebirth of memories and a fuller understanding of the past, with new facts and interpretations. It happens again and again all over the world as part of the story. It is common in the Marxist movement
Revision is considered an essential part of the invigorating exercise of history. There can be no ultimate or eternal “truth” about past events and their meaning that cannot be challenged or changed by new revelations. Revisionism is what makes history alive, meaningful and trustworthy. People’s problems and expectations, needs, interests, motivations and views do not remain constant. Each regime has its own relationship with the past and the need to read and grasp the past in order to evolve, correct and frame its perspective. People have the right to watch and reinterpret history, an academic task that can only be undertaken by scholars.
Historical revisionism is normally done by revisiting the sources of a historical recording of a period with a different perspective or data that might alter the way we perceive it. This way of revisiting history has had both positive and negative aspects.
Today our goal should be to collect relevant and complete facts to rectify omissions, imbalances, disproportionate coverage, and present them without fear or favor. Indian history with which we are familiar has many gaps and omissions to fill. Several regions and peoples are not even mentioned. Knowledge of social, economic and cultural life when the East India Company was expanding its hold is scarce and scattered. Information on the construction of cities and ports or on engineering knowledge and skills, the state of science and technology and the development of arts and architecture will greatly contribute to the building of the unit and national integration. The history of the freedom movement must be broadened to cover the contributions of various schools of thought and forgotten figures, whose sacrifices have been immense.
In 2017, a committee of academics was appointed by the Prime Minister to study ancient Hindu scriptures to establish that they are facts and not myths. An open investigation without predetermined conclusions can inform our understanding of scripts.
An important characteristic of historical studies that we cannot afford to ignore is that past history and current politics are inseparable. This can make the task of revising historical writings difficult and the end product of the controversial endeavor. Is it possible to leave the task entirely to independent researchers working without political interference? Academic institutions and academics are also so politicized that once the concept of revision is accepted politically, it is likely to become a matter of routine with every change of government.
We are already witnessing it in the form of renaming places and programs, of overhauling institutions with notional changes and in its extreme form of overthrowing everything that comes from political opponents. Still, we can’t be pessimistic at the start itself. — Infa
(The authors are the former director, ICSSR, New Delhi)
History is a “continuous and methodical recording” of important or public events related to a nation, a people, things, etc. The historian, by dictionary definition, is a history writer, especially a critical analyst as opposed to a mere analyst or compiler. Thus, the interpretation of data is part of the historian’s job. And so, whoever sponsors the writing or rewriting of history should steer clear and leave the work to independent researchers. Otherwise, history will become political. — INFA