Friday, July 14, 2017

Hindutva: Legacy of the British Raj?

Colonial-era British historians deliberately distorted the history of Indian Muslim rule to vilify Muslim rulers as part of the British policy to divide and conquer India, says American history professor Audrey Truschke, in her recently published book "Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India's Most Controversial King". These misrepresentations of Muslim rule made during the British Raj appear to have been accepted as fact not just by Islamophobic Hindu Nationalists but also by at least some of the secular Hindus in India and Muslim intellectuals in present day Pakistan, says the author.  Aurangzeb was neither a saint nor a villain; he was a man of his time who should be judged by the norms of his times and compared with his contemporaries, the author adds.

Demolishing Myths: 

Madhav Golwalkar, considered the founder of the Hindu Nationalist movement in India, saw Islam and Muslims as enemies. He said: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindusthan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting to shake off the despoilers".

Professor Truschke systematically dismantles
myths about India's Muslim rulers as being hateful and bigoted tyrants who engaged in rape and pillage of Hindus and carried out widespread destruction of Hindu temples across India. Hindu Nationalists led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who considers Golwalkar "worthy of worship, are using false history to play victims of "brutal" Islamic rule and to justify their hatred and violence against Indian Muslims today.

Hindu Nationalists' False Narrative:

Truschke explains how the Hindu Nationalists have used colonial-era distortions of history and built a false narrative to justify their hatred and violence against India's Muslim minority. Here's an excerpt from her book:

"Such views have roots in colonial-era scholarship, where positing timeless Hindu-Muslim animosity embodied the British strategy of divide and conquer. Today, multiple websites claim to list Aurangzeb's "atrocities" against Hindus (typically playing fast and loose with the facts) and fuel communal fires. There are numerous gaping holes in the proposition that Aurangzeb razed temples because he hated Hindus, however. Most glaringly, Aurangzeb counted thousands of Hindu temples within his domain and yet destroyed, at most, few dozen.....A historically legitimate view of Aurangzeb must explain why he protected Hindu temples more often than he demolished them."

Misguided Pakistani View:

The false narrative about Aurangzeb has been accepted as fact not just by Islamophobic Hindu Nationalists in India who use it for their own purposes, but also by at least some of the Muslim intellectuals in present day Pakistan. Truschke singles out Pakistani playwright Shahid Nadeem to make this point in her book:

"Across the border in Pakistan, too, many endorse the vision of an evil Aurangzeb. As Shahid Nadeem, a Pakistani playwright, recently put it: " Seeds of partition were sown when Aurangzeb triumphed over [his brother] Dara Shikoh". Such far-fetched suggestions would be farcical, if so many did not endorse them."

Some British educated secular Indian leaders have also been misled colonial-era historical narrative of Muslim rule pushed by the British. For example, India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, thought Aurangzeb was too Muslim to rule India. Nehru described Aurangzeb as "a bigot and an austere puritan" and called him a dangerous throwback who "put back the clock". Here's a quote from Nehru used by Truschke to make her point:

"When Aurangzeb began to oppose [the syncretism of the earlier Mughal rulers] and suppress it and to function more as a Moslem than an Indian ruler, the Mughal empire began to break up".

The Real Aurangzeb:

Here's an excerpt from Truschke's article in Wire.in that explains how she sees "historical Aurangzeb":

"Aurangzeb, for instance, acted in ways that are rarely adequately explained by religious bigotry. For example, he ordered the destruction of select Hindu temples (perhaps a few dozen, at most, over his 49-year reign) but not because he despised Hindus. Rather, Aurangzeb generally ordered temples demolished in the aftermath of political rebellions or to forestall future uprisings. Highlighting this causality does not serve to vindicate Aurangzeb or justify his actions but rather to explain why he targeted select temples while leaving most untouched. Moreover, Aurangzeb also issued numerous orders protecting Hindu temples and communities from harassment, and he incorporated more Hindus into his imperial administration than any Mughal ruler before him by a fair margin. These actions collectively make sense if we understand Aurangzeb’s actions within the context of state interests, rather than by ascribing suspiciously modern-sounding religious biases to him."

Truschke is not alone in the above assessment of Aurangzeb. Marathi writer Nagnath S. Inamdar, the author of  "Shahenshah: The Life of Aurangzeb",  recalls visiting a prominent Hindu temple whose priest told him that it had come down in his family that not only had Aurangzeb left the temple intact, but also authorized a recurring annual donation for its maintenance. Further diminishing the idea of a puritanical figure, Inamdar also found old manuscripts with love sonnets composed by Aurangzeb.

Real History in Persian:

Truschke says the original history of the Mughal rule was written in Persian. However, it is the English translation of the original work that are often used to distort it. Here's what she says about it in her book:

"The bulk of Mughal histories are written in Persian, the official administrative language of the Mughal empire but a foreign tongue in India today. Out of necessity and ease, many historians disregard the original Persian text and rely instead on English translations. This approach narrows the the library of materials drastically, and many translations of the Mughal texts are of questionable quality, brimming with mistranslations and abridgments. Some of these changes conveniently served the agendas of the translators, especially colonial-era translations that tend to show Indo--Muslim kings at their worst so that the British would seem virtuous by comparison (foremost here is Elliot and Dowson's History of India as Told by Its Own Historians). Such materials are great for learning about British colonialism, but they present an inaccurate picture of Mughal India."

Comparison with Contemporaries:

On temple destructions, Truschke says that the "Hindu rulers were the first to come up with the idea of sacking one another’s temples, before Muslims even entered the Indian subcontinent. But one hears little about these “historical wrongs”".

University of Texas Professor Donald Davis, a scholar of Hinduism, agrees that “there is no question that medieval Hindu kings frequently destroyed religious images as part of more general rampages”.

Invasions of various parts of India by Shivaji Bhonsle's Maratha forces were extremely bloody and destructive affairs. Maratha raiders led by Shivaji raped, pillaged and plundered the people, mainly Hindus,  in the territories they captured.  Some of these events are documented in Sir Jadunath Srakar's Shivaji and His Times. Shivaji Bhonsle was a contemporary and rival of Aurangzeb.  He is now revered by Hindu Nationalists as a hero who allegedly protected Hindus from Aurangzeb in the second half of the 17th century.

Aurangzeb-Shivaji Conflict Not Religious:

Professor Truschke debunks the Hindu Nationalist portrayal of Shivaji-Aurangzeb conflict as being Hindu-Muslim war. She argues in her book that "the Mughal-Maratha conflict was shaped by craving for raw power that demanded strategic, shifting alliances. Shivaji allied with numerous Islamic states, including Bijapur, Golconda, and even the Mughals when it suited him (sometimes against Hindu powers in south India). Shivaji welcomed Muslims within his army; he had qazis (Muslim judges) on his payroll, and Muslims ranked among some of the top commanders".

She says that "Mughal alliances and the imperial army was similarly diverse, and Aurangzeb sent a Hindu, Jai Singh, to besiege Shivaji at Purandar."

Summary:

Aurangzeb was neither a saint nor a villain; he was a man of his time who should be judged by the norms of his times and compared with his contemporaries.  Colonial-era British historians deliberately distorted the history of Indian Muslim rule to vilify Muslim rulers as part of their policy to divide and conquer India, according to American history professor Audrey Truschke. Professor Truschke has systematically dismantled all the myths about India's Muslim rulers as hateful and bigoted tyrants who engaged in rape and pillage of Hindus and carried out widespread destruction of Hindu temples across India. Hindu Nationalists led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are using false history to justify their hatred and violence against Indian Muslims today.
Related Links:
Here's an interesting discussion of the legacy of the British Raj in India as seen by writer-diplomat Shashi Tharoor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN2Owcwq6_M





Haq's Musings

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Hindu Supremacist Yogi Adiyanath's Rise in UP

Hinduization of India

Globalization of Hindu Nationalism

Hindutva Distortion of Indian History Textbooks

33 comments:

D. Khan said...

Budhism cleansing by Hindus 84000 temples destroyed Buddhist killed and burned alive by first Brahamin king of Shunga empire

Anonymous said...

Facts about Ashoka's massacre and destruction of Kalinga:

1. It was the bloodiest and the most infamous war ever fought between State of Kalinga (present-day Odisha) and Mauryan Empire.

2. The war was fought in 261 B.C. and was won by the Mauryan Dynasty.

3. The Mauryan army was led by Emperor Ashoka while the Kalinga army was led by Raja Anantha Padmanabhan.

4. The Battle of Kalinga began in 8th year of Ashoka’s rule. Before the battle started, Ashoka sent a letter to King of Kalinga or Kalingaraj where Ashoka asked for complete submission of Kalinga to the Mauryan Empire. This was refused by Kalingaraj.

5. Ashoka’s grandfather, Emperor Chandragupta Maurya tried to conquer Kalinga once but was unsuccessful.

6. Emperor Bindusara, father of Emperor Ashoka, was in a process of territorial expansion but the independent feudal republic of Kalinga was a major hindrance both politically and economically.

7. Emperor Bindusara also made attempts to conquer Kalinga but was defeated.

8. After death of Emperor Bindusara, Emperor Ashoka took a complete charge to annex the State of Kalinga.

9. When Raja Anantha Padmanabhan declined the proposal of complete submission to Mauryan Empire, Emperor Ashoka led an enormous army to Kalinga.

10. The Battle of Kalinga was the only battle in which Emperor Ashoka was present physically.

11. The battle was fought on Dhauli hill and later the whole State of Kalinga was turned into a bloody battlefield.

12. The battle was fierce and claimed the lives of 150,000 warriors of Kalinga and 100,000 Mauryan warriors.

13. It is being said that the battle was so fierce that in aftermath of the battle, Daya River flowing next to the battlefield turned completely red because of the bloodshed.

14. Several thousands of men and women of Kalinga were deported.

15. Emperor Ashoka did win the Battle of Kalinga and the State of Kalinga was eventually annexed by Mauryan Empire but the sheer number of lives lost and the sight of hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded scattered all other the battlefield filled Emperor Ashoka’s heart with remorse and grief.

16. It is said in oral history that one woman of Kalinga came to Ashoka after the war and said that the battle took away her husband, father and son from her and she has nothing to live for. Those words moved Emperor Ashoka so much that he adopted the Buddhism and walked the path of Ahimsa or non-violence.

17. After the Battle of Kalinga, Emperor Ashoka ended his military conquests and completely stopped the territorial expansion policy of Mauryan Empire.

18. Edicts of Ashoka have records of the response of Emperor Ashoka to Kalinga War.

19. After the battle, Ashoka embraced the concept of Dhammavijaya or Victory through Dhamma.

20. Ashoka sent missionaries to Srilanka, Macedonia, Greece and Syria to spread the message of Buddhism and peace.

P. Jain said...

How the Buddhists and Jains were Persecuted in Ancient India.

https://karthiknavayan.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/ow-the-buddhists-and-jains-were-persecuted-in-ancient-india/


“… Hiuen-Tsang, who visited India from 629 to 645 AD, describes the influence of a south Indian Brahmin queen on her husband who ordered the execution of many thousand Buddhists including 8,000 in Madurai alone. Kalhana’s Rajatarangani (written by a Shaivite scholar about 1149 AD and the first Brahmin account of India’s historic past from the time of Yudishthira) relates that Mihirikula, the Hun ruler was converted by Brahmins (in 515 AD) and unleashed a wave of violent destruction on Buddhist monasteries in Punjab and Kashmir. He reports (verse 290 in book 1) that “crows and birds of prey would fly ahead eager to feed on those within his armies reach”. He proudly proclaimed himself as the killer of three crores. … … – Buddhism that had been strong in India in the 7th Century was completely obliterated a century later.”

There are many who seem to believe that brutality and bloodshed were the sole preserve of Muslim rulers and that Hindu rajas lived in an idyllic ocean of peace and tranquility. Unfortunately, an examination of the history of the Indian sub continent does not support such an uninformed opinion.

Gaining and retaining power is a brutal business all around the world, and has been so, all through history, with the possible exception within Buddhist societies where brute violence is rare. Many people genuinely believe that Hinduism has always been a tolerant religion that assimilated other peoples and ideas without bloody conflict. That is how they teach it! The ugly scars of brutality in the history of all peoples, are sanitized in school history books. The ruling powers, everywhere, want to play down the politics of past racial or religious persecution. This has the result in our case that many people hold the opinion that brutality and violence in India were exclusive to ‘invaders’ like the Greeks, Mongols, Turks and even the British. While these were the `invaders’ easily condemned by the history books, it can be mentioned that most of the Arya, Scythian and Jat tribes, who came to India probably from central Asia, could also be described as ‘invaders’.


----------------

Many local rulers, probably at the urging of their Brahmin ministers and priests, now began to ruthlessly exterminate the previously dominant Buddhist and Jain faiths. Although the class of Kshatriyas had completely vanished from history during the thousand years of mainly Buddhist rule they were reinvented at this time to serve Brahmin interests. No doubt the rich lands and treasures of their defenseless monasteries and temples also gave material incentives to this religious fervor and many Buddhist and Jain stupas and monasteries were plundered and Hindu temples established at their sites.

Similar material motives had actuated religious persecutions in many lands including those by the Catholic and Protestant nobles in England during the much more recent period of the Reformation. There are many Hindu references to support this looting and plunder including the unedited versions of the original Puranas even though most Buddhist and Jain accounts were destroyed. Hiuen-Tsang, who visited India from 629 to 645 AD, describes the influence of a south Indian Brahmin queen on her husband who ordered the execution of many thousand Buddhists including 8,000 in Madurai alone. Kalhana’s Rajatarangani (written by a Shaivite scholar about 1149 AD and the first Brahmin account of India’s historic past from the time of Yudishthira) relates that Mihirikula, the Hun ruler was converted by Brahmins (in 515 AD) and unleashed a wave of violent destruction on Buddhist monasteries in Punjab and Kashmir. He reports (verse 290 in book 1) that “crows and birds of prey would fly ahead eager to feed on those within his armies reach”. He proudly proclaimed himself as the killer of three crores.

Ameer A. said...

It is very sad to see that so many of our so called cultural elites rely on colonial English authors and Hindu Nationalist hate literature, instead of doing their own research on the subject. There is a viscous hate campaign against Aurangzeb in India.

Riaz Haq said...

Ameer: "It is very sad to see that so many of our so called cultural elites rely on colonial English authors and Hindu Nationalist hate literature, instead of doing their own research on the subject. There is a viscous hate campaign against Aurangzeb in India. "

I agree with you Ameer. It's sad indeed. But it's understandable given the powerful influence of the Brits on western educated South Asians. They do need more critical thinking skills, not just accept things on face value.

Usha said...

Jizya was abolished by the third Mughal emperor Akbar, in 1564. It was finally abolished in 1579.

However, Aurangzeb, the sixth emperor, re-introduced and levied jizya on non-Muslims in 1679. His goal was to promote Islam and weaken the Hindu religion. Aurangzeb ordered that the collected jizya be used for charitable causes to support the increasing number of impoverished and unemployed Muslim clerics in his empire. Unlike other Mughals he did not enhance or promote the arts and music but spent more on piety across the empire. Hindus were outraged and numerous small-scale revolts resulted. The jizya rate was more than twice the zakat tax rate paid by Muslims led to mass civil protests of 1679 in India. In some areas revolts led to its periodic suspension such as the 1704 AD suspension of jizya in Deccan region of India by Aurangzeb.

Riaz Haq said...

Usha: "The jizya rate was more than twice the zakat tax rate paid by Muslims led to mass civil protests of 1679 in India. In some areas revolts led to its periodic suspension such as the 1704 AD suspension of jizya in Deccan region of India by Aurangzeb"


JIzya is a tax paid by non-Muslims and Zakat is a tax paid by Muslims. In addition, Muslims also pay 10% of agriculture products as ushr that non-Muslims are not required to pay. In an agrarian economy of 1600s, Muslims carried a much bigger burden of taxes than their Hindu counterparts in India.

Zakat and jizya both require minimum assets on which payer has to be required to pay. Neither apply to the average people, the poor and the needy.

Aurangzeb's jizya imposition had no effect on average non-Muslims in India.

Non-Muslims are not required to serve in the military but those who choose to join military service are exempted from payment of jizya as are those who can not afford to pay.

Truschke talks about it in her book as follows: Aurangzeb gave tax breaks to hard-hit regions, canceling the jizya for Hyferabad in 1688-89 because of drought and remitting the jizya for the entire Deccan in 1704 in consideration of the toll of famines and war.

Aurangzeb's decision to impose jizya was not motivated by religious bigotry but by his effort to placate the ulema who were suspicious of Mughal kings sincerity. But many of Aurangzeb's nobles, including prominent Muslims and royal family members such Jahanara, Aurangzeb's eldest sister, lampooned the jizya as a poor administrative decision.

An article in Spiritual World (http://www.spritualworld.com/)gives a different perspective on that controversy.

Aurangzeb abolished 65 taxes on general population that led to an annual loss of 50 million rupees to his exchequer. That put him under pressure to find newer ways to mobilize revenue, and Jizya was one of them.

But why target only Hindus? Because he was already extracting certain levies from Muslims, which Hindus were not paying.

All Muslims had to pay Islamic taxes such Zakat (2.5% of savings), Ushr (10% of agriculture products) and charity charges such as
Sadaqah, Fitrah, and Khums, from which Hindus were exempted.

Aurangzeb was possibly striking a balance by imposing Jizya.

http://www.newscrunch.in/2015/08/while-hindus-paid-jizya-aurangzeb.html

Khalid B. said...

Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb: Bad Ruler or Bad History?

By Dr. Habib Siddiqui

https://www.albalagh.net/general/0093.shtml


Fortunately, in recent years quite a few Hindu historians have come out in the open disputing those allegations (against Aurangzeb). For example, historian Babu Nagendranath Banerjee rejected the accusation of forced conversion of Hindus by Muslim rulers by stating that if that was their intention then in India today there would not be nearly four times as many Hindus compared to Muslims, despite the fact that Muslims had ruled for nearly a thousand years. Banerjee challenged the Hindu hypothesis that Aurangzeb was anti-Hindu by reasoning that if the latter were truly guilty of such bigotry, how could he appoint a Hindu as his military commander-in-chief? Surely, he could have afforded to appoint a competent Muslim general in that position. Banerjee further stated: "No one should accuse Aurangzeb of being communal minded. In his administration, the state policy was formulated by Hindus. Two Hindus held the highest position in the State Treasury. ... During Aurangzeb's long reign of fifty years, many Hindus, notably Jaswant Singh, Raja Rajrup, Kabir Singh, Arghanath Singh, Prem Dev Singh, Dilip Roy, and Rasik Lal Crory, held very high administrative positions. Two of the highest ranked generals in Aurangzeb's administration, Jaswant Singh and Jaya Singh, were Hindus. Other notable Hindu generals who commanded a garrison of two to five thousand soldiers were Raja Vim Singh of Udaypur, Indra Singh, Achalaji and Arjuji. One wonders if Aurangzeb was hostile to Hindus, why would he position all these Hindus to high positions of authority, especially in the military, who could have mutinied against him and removed him from his throne?

...Historian Shri Sharma states that while Emperor Akbar had fourteen Hindu Mansabdars (high officials) in his court, Aurangzeb actually had 148 Hindu high officials in his court. (Ref: Mughal Government) But this fact is somewhat less known.

------


Now let us deal with Aurangzeb's imposition ofthe jizya tax which had drawn severe criticism from many Hindu historians. It is true that jizya was lifted during the reign of Akbar and Jahangir and that Aurangzeb later reinstated this. Before I delve into the subject of Aurangzeb's jizya tax, or taxing the non-Muslims, it is worthwhile to point out that jizya is nothing more than a war tax which was collected only from able-bodied young non-Muslim male citizens living in a Muslim country who did not want to volunteer for the defense of the country. That is, no such tax was collected from non-Muslims who volunteered to defend the country. This tax was not collected from women, and neither from immature males nor from disabled or old male citizens. For payment of such taxes, it became incumbent upon the Muslim government to protect the life, property and wealth of its non-Muslim citizens. If for any reason the government failed to protect its citizens, especially during a war, the taxable amount was returned.

It should be pointed out here that zakat (2.5% of savings) and ‘ushr (10% of agricultural products) were collected from all Muslims, who owned some wealth (beyond a certain minimum, called nisab). They also paid sadaqah, fitrah, and khums. None of these were collected from any non-Muslim. As a matter of fact, the per capita collection from Muslims was several fold that of non-Muslims. Further to Auranzeb's credit is his abolition of a lot of taxes, although this fact is not usually mentioned. In his book Mughal Administration, Sir Jadunath Sarkar, foremost historian on the Mughal dynasty, mentions that during Aurangzeb's reign in power, nearly sixty-five types of taxes were abolished, which resulted in a yearly revenue loss of fifty million rupees from the state treasury.

Sami said...

When Marathas invaded Bengal in 1742, they committed all sorts of barbaric and sinful acts. Jadunath Sarkar quotes a contemporary account of Bengali Poet Gangaram describing the atrocities committed by the Maratha soldiers:
They dragged away the beautiful women, tying their fingers to their necks with ropes. When one Bargi (a Maratha soldier who was supplied with his mount and arms by government) had done with a woman, another seized her; the women shrieked in the agony and ravishment. The Bargis after thus committing all sinful acts, set these women free. Then, after looting in the open, the Bargis entered the villages. They set fire to the houses, large and small, temples and dwelling places. After burning the villages, they roamed about on all sides plundering. Some victims they tied up with their arms twisted behind them. Some they flung down and kicked with their shoes. They constantly shouted, ‘Give us Rupees, Give us Rupees, Give us Rupees.’ (pp. 49-50) (bold ours)
In the footnote of the same page, Sarkar writes:
The Maratha soldiers were notorious for their practice of gang-rape in invaded territories from a very early time. In 1683 when they invaded Goa districts under the eyes of their king Shambhuji, they committed this kind of outrage. A contemporary Portuguese account of that war states: “These enemies were so barbarous that when a woman appeared very beautiful (lit., best) to them, five or six of them violated her by lying with that woman alone. (p. 49) (bold ours)

Anonymous said...

Both British and Hindutva historians have painted the Mughal Emperor as villain for thir own purpose, here’s how, by BRIJENDRA SINGH

http://www.altgaze.com/?p=2156


Dr. BISHAMBHAR NATH PANDE’S VIEW
The late scholar & historian, Dr.Bishambhar Nath Pande’s research efforts exploded myths on Aurangzeb’s rule. They also offer an excellent example of what history has to teach us if only we study it dispassionately. Mr. Pande was ranked among the very few Indians & very fewer still Hindu historians who tried to be a little careful when dealing with such history. He knew that this history was ‘originally compiled by European writers’ whose main objective was to produce a history that would serve their policy of divide & rule.
In his famous Khuda Bakhsh Annual Lecture (1985) Dr. Pande said: “Thus under a definite policy the Indian history text books were so falsified & distorted as to give an impression that the medieval (i.e., Muslim) period of Indian history was full of atrocities committed by Muslim rulers on their Hindu subjects & the Hindus had to suffer terrible indignities under Muslim rule and there were no common factors (between Hindus & Muslims) in social, political & economic life.”
Therefore, Dr.Pande was extra careful. Whenever he came across a ‘fact’ that looked odd to him, he would try to check & verify rather than adopt it uncritically. He came across a history text book taught in the Anglo-Bengali College, Allahabad, which claimed that “three thousand Brahmins had committed suicide as Tipu wanted to convert them forcibly into the fold of Islam.” The author was a very famous scholar, Dr.Har Prasad Shastri, head of the department of Sanskrit at Kolkata University. (Tipu Sultan (1750-99), who ruled over the South Indian state of Mysore (1782-99), is one of the most heroic figures in Indian history. He died on the battle field, fighting the British.)
Was it true? Dr. Pande wrote immediately to the author & asked him for the source on which he had based this episode in his text-book. After several reminders, Dr. Shastri replied that he had taken this information from the Mysore gazetteer. So Dr. Pande requested the Mysore university vice- chancellor, Sir Brijendra Nath Seal, to verify for him Dr. Shastri’s statement from the gazetteer. Sir Brijendra referred his letter to Prof. Srikantia who was then working on a new edition of the gazetteer. Srikantia wrote to say that the gazetteer mentioned no such incident and, as a historian himself, he was certain that nothing like this had taken place. Prof. Srikantia added that both the prime minister & commander-in-chief of Tipu Sultan were themselves Brahmins. He also enclosed a list of 136 Hindu temples which used to receive annual grants from the sultan’s treasury.
It inspired that Shastri had lifted this story from Colonel Miles, History of Mysore, which Miles claimed he had taken from a Persian manuscript in the personal library of Queen Victoria. When Dr. Pande checked further, he found that no such manuscript existed in Queen Victoria’s library.
FALSE HISTORY PROVIDED BY BRITISHERS
British historian Sir Henry Elliot remarked that Hindus “had not left any account which could unable us to gauge the traumatic impact the Muslim conquest and rule had on them?” Since there was none, Elliot went on to produce his own eight-volume history of India with contributions from British historians (1867). His history claimed Hindus were slain for disputing with ‘Mohammedans’, generally prohibited from worshipping and taking out religious processions , their idols were mutilated , their temples were destroyed , they were forced into conversion & marriages , & were killed & massacred by drunk Muslim tyrants.

Riaz Haq said...

Throughout India’s freedom struggle, the RSS was subservient to the British, with its leadership prohibiting participation in mass movements.


https://thewire.in/124685/rss-hindutva-nationalism/

On March 18, 1999, the then prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, issued a postage stamp commemorating K.B. Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS, as a great freedom fighter before an audience that consisted mostly of Sangh cadres. This move, Shamsul Islam wrote, was an attempt “to pass off a pre-independence political trend represented by the RSS as a legacy of the anti-colonial struggle whereas in reality the RSS was never part of the anti-imperialist struggle. On the contrary, since its inception in 1925, the RSS only tried to disrupt the great anti-imperialist struggle of the Indian people against the British colonial rulers.”

Hedgewar, the freedom fighter, was a pre-RSS Congressman, arrested and sentenced for a year’s imprisonment for his role in the Khilafat movement (1919-1924) – and that was his last participation in the freedom struggle. Soon after his release, Hedgewar, inspired by Savarkar’s idea of Hindutva, founded the RSS in September 1925. And this organisation, throughout the rest of its life under the British Raj, remained subservient to the colonising power and opposed the mass movements for India’s freedom in every phase of the struggle.

By the end of the decade in December 1940, when Gandhi had launched the satyagraha for Quit India, a note from the home department of the colonial government reveals that RSS leaders met the secretary of the home department and “promised the secretary to encourage members of the Sangh to join the civic guards in greater numbers,”. The civic guards was set up by the imperial government as one of the “special measures for internal security.”

RSS and its opposition to Quit India movement

A year-and-a-half after the Quit India movement was launched, the Bombay government of the British Raj noted in a memo, with considerable satisfaction, that “the Sangh has scrupulously kept itself within the law, and in particular, has refrained from taking part in the disturbances that broke out in August 1942.”

However, as in the previous case of the Dandi March, the cadres of the RSS were frustrated by their leaders who were holding them back from participating in the movement. “In 1942 also”, Golwalkar himself pointed out, “there was a strong sentiment in the hearts of many…. Sangh is an organisation of inactive persons, their talks are useless, not only outsiders but also many of our volunteers did talk like this. They were greatly disgusted too.”

But the RSS leadership had a curious reason for not participating in the struggle for independence. In a speech given on June 1942 – months before an unnecessary, British-made famine was to kill at least three million Indians in Bengal – Golwalkar said that the “Sangh does not want to blame anybody else for the present degraded state of the society. When the people start blaming others, then there is basically weakness in them. It is futile to blame the strong for the injustice done to the weak…Sangh does not want to waste its invaluable time in abusing or criticising others. If we know that large fish eat the smaller ones, it is outright madness to blame the big fish. Law of nature whether good or bad is true all the time. This rule does not change by terming it unjust.”

Riaz Haq said...

https://www.pressreader.com/india/the-indian-express/20170415/282458528827742

When asked to discriminate against Shias, he (Aurangzeb) replied: What connection have earthly affairs with religion. And what right have administrative works to meddle with bigotry....If this rule were established, it would be my duty to extirpate all Hindu Rajahs and their followers. Wise men disapprove of the removal from office of able officers." Aurangzeb's administration included numerous Hindus, including Raja Ragunatha, who headed the treasury.


https://aeon.co/essays/the-great-aurangzeb-is-everybodys-least-favourite-mughal


Aurangzeb’s most controversial state killing is his execution of Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru, in 1675. In the mid- to late-17th century, Tegh Bahadur caused unrest in Mughal-controlled Punjab, thereby posing a threat to state security and Aurangzeb’s authority. Contemporary Mughal sources do not even mention his execution, probably because, from a state perspective, it was unexceptional. Many moderns perceive this episode as a case where an Islamist king sought to stamp out Sikhism in its early days. A commonly repeated story is that Aurangzeb asked Tegh Bahadur to convert to Islam and then executed him when the Sikh guru stood firm in his faith. Given Aurangzeb’s typically harsh actions against state enemies, I find it unlikely that conversion, even if offered, would have saved Tegh Bahadur.


It was Aurangzeb’s preoccupation with state security that led to his policies toward Hindu temples, an issue that looms large in the public’s imagination in India today. Contrary to the contemporary view of Aurangzeb as a temple destroyer, thousands of Hindu temples adorned the landscape of Aurangzeb’s India, and the vast majority were still standing at the end of his rule. Plentiful evidence attests that Aurangzeb issued orders protecting Hindu and Jain temples, and granted temple associates land and other favours. Aurangzeb even chastised Muslims who troubled pious Brahmins.

Riaz Haq said...

Aurangzeb an excuse for Hindu Right to voice anti-Muslim feelingsDhairya Maheshwari DHAIRYA MAHESHWARI

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/interviews/aurangzeb-an-excuse-for-hindu-right-to-voice-anti-muslim-feelings

Is there a difference between the outlook of Western scholars and Indian scholars towards Aurangzeb?


Some of the points that I make in the book are matters of scholarly consensus across the board, such as that we lack evidence for the popular view that Aurangzeb destroyed thousands of Hindu temples. Other arguments that I put forth are more controversial. But history is a scholarly discipline united by a common set of approaches and ethics, rather than a practice divided by nationality.

Who is more responsible for demonising the legacy of Aurangzeb– the British colonialists or the Right?

The Hindu Right has a long history of adopting colonial-era ideas, and their views on Aurangzeb are no exception. That said, British colonialism in India ended seventy years ago, and I do not think that its legacy excuses the hate-mongering we see among the Right in India today. Hindu nationalists despise Aurangzeb--or who they think Aurangzeb was, anyways--for largely disreputable reasons, including as a way of voicing anti-Muslim feelings.You mention in your book that Aurangzeb is as unpopular in Pakistan as he is in India. How, in your view, is he viewed in contemporary Pakistan?


Aurangzeb has a mixed reputation in modern-day Pakistan. Some Pakistanis malign him as a bigot, similar to the common Indian view. But other Pakistanis cherish Aurangzeb as the one truly Muslim king in the Mughal line. My book argues against the myth of Aurangzeb the Pious, just as it argues against the myth of Aurangzeb the Bigot.Wasn’t it paradoxical that while ordering demolition of temples, he also handed out huge grants to the Hindu community at the same time? Was it just statecraft?

I think that "just statecraft" is a bit dismissive. Political explanations go a long way toward explaining Aurangzeb's two-pronged policy of destroying and protecting Hindu temples. However, as I contend in the book, religious considerations were also likely involved in imperial decisions vis-a-vis individual temples, although not the types of religious considerations that Aurangzeb's modern detractors have written onto this premodern king.In a column you wrote this year, you say that many Indians “recoiled” at the thought of Hindu nationalism for much part of the 20th century. But there has been a surge in popular support for this ideology in the last decade or so, more so since 2014.

As a scholar on South Asia, how do you explain these changing attitudes of Indians, who, as you say, have been more of less into secular politics?

I think a layered explanation is probably most useful. We are witnessing a surge of religious nationalism worldwide. I think it's also relevant that India has moved far enough away from independence that living memory of the independence struggle is basically gone. Additionally, political corruption and changing economic approaches have played into the rise of Hindu nationalist political parties.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s Turn Toward Intolerance. #Hindutva #Islamophobia #cow #Modi #economy #jobs #BJP

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/17/opinion/indias-turn-toward-intolerance.html

Narendra Modi’s landslide victory as prime minister of India in 2014 was borne on his promises to unleash his country’s economic potential and build a bright future while he played down the Hindu nationalist roots of his Bharatiya Janata Party.

But, under Mr. Modi’s leadership, growth has slowed, jobs have not materialized, and what has actually been unleashed is virulent intolerance that threatens the foundation of the secular nation envisioned by its founders.

Since Mr. Modi took office, there has been an alarming rise in mob attacks against people accused of eating beef or abusing cows, an animal held sacred to Hindus. Most of those killed have been Muslims. Mr. Modi spoke out against the killings only last month, not long after his government banned the sale of cows for slaughter, a move suspended by India’s Supreme Court. The ban, enforcing cultural stigma, would have fallen hardest on Muslims and low-caste Hindus traditionally engaged in the meat and leather industry.

It would also have struck a blow against Mr. Modi’s supposed priorities: employment, economic growth and boosting exports. The $16 billion industry employs millions of workers and generated $4 billion in export income last year.

More disturbing was his party’s decision to name Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu warrior-priest, as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, and a springboard to national leadership. Mr. Adityanath has called India’s Muslims “a crop of two-legged animals that has to be stopped” and cried at one rally, “We are all preparing for religious war!”

This development led the analyst Neerja Chowdhury to observe: “India is moving right. Whether India moves further right, and Modi begins to be looked upon as a moderate, I think that only time will tell.”

On Tuesday, India’s film censor board, headed by a Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart apparently intent on protecting Mr. Modi and the party from criticism, ruled that a documentary film about one of India’s most famous sons, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, cannot be screened unless the director cuts the words “cow,” “Hindu India,” “Hindutva view of India” — meaning Hindu nationalism — and “Gujarat,” where Mr. Modi was chief minister at the time of deadly anti-Muslim riots in 2002.

This might seem like merely a farcical move by Hindu fanatics, if it were not so in line with much else that is happening in Mr. Modi’s India, and if the implications for India’s democracy weren’t so chilling. But this is where Mr. Modi has brought the nation as it prepares to celebrate 70 years of independence on Aug. 15.

Riaz Haq said...

Joanna Lumley's India: is her TV show guilty of airbrushing history?
Joanna Lumley has returned to the land of her birth to celebrate India and walk in her ‘family’s footsteps’. But does her series overlook British oppression in the former colony – and her own ancestors’ role?

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/jul/19/joanna-lumley-india-is-tv-show-guilty-of-airbrushing-history

The trouble with Joanna Lumley’s India, currently showing on ITV, is that despite the promise to “celebrate” modern India and “walk in my family’s footsteps”, this isn’t the full story of Joanna Lumley’s India, and certainly not her family’s. Within minutes of the first episode, there is an omission. Strolling through Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, she points out the British-inspired architecture. But she fails to mention that St John’s Church, the first Anglican cathedral on the subcontinent, was built by James Agg, her great-great-great-great-grandfather and the first of her ancestors to arrive in 1777.

Perhaps she isn’t aware of the lineage. But it is not hard to trace it back. Or maybe it’s because of those four chilling words: British East India Company – the trading corporation turned “aggressive colonial power”, as the historian William Dalrymple put it, whose activities brought the word “loot” (from the Hindustani lut) into the English dictionary, and from which Agg seems likely to have made his fortune.

Not that you would think the company at all chilling from the revised history offered here. The company “bought some land” in Bengal, “started exporting” and then Kolkata “grew richer and richer”. These soundbites are not factually inaccurate. Yes, the capital of West Bengal grew “richer and richer”. But for who?

For men like James Agg, the “son of a common hard-working stonemason” as he is described in the memoirs of William Hickey (the two arrived on the same ship). Agg joined the EIC Army in 1781. By 1796, he was back in Britain a very rich man, one of the era’s nabobs or “Englishmen who flourish”. According to the 19th-century writer and traveller John Sullivan, such men acted “like a sponge, drawing up riches from the banks of the Ganges and squeezing them down upon the banks of the Thames”.

This is worth knowing not only because it’s the kind of family detail promised by the show, but also for the insight it offers into the poverty Lumley points out in Kolkata, for which no adequate context is given. The EIC was not just a bunch of merchants, but a military force that subjugated and plundered India throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries. In Bengal, the first region to fall to the British, the immediate outcome was full pockets for the westerners and poverty for the citizens. Indians were blocked from trading, were forced off their land by impossible-to-pay taxes, and saw their world-renowned textile industry destroyed.

The poverty of this once-great city, Lumley tells us, is down to “conflict and politics”. Perhaps I misheard. She must have said “conquest and policies” – such as the 50% tax on income, the extraction of which was routinely helped along by torture. Defaulters could expect to be caged and left in the burning sun. Or at worst, to quote Edmund Burke’s 1795 testimony in Parliament about the horrors inflicted upon Bengali women, “they were dragged out, naked and exposed to the public view, and scourged before all the people ... they put the nipples of the women into the sharp edges of split bamboos and tore them from their bodies”.

Riaz Haq said...

Top #Trump aide Steve Bannon believes #Muslims, #MidEast, #Pakistan are primeval: Joshua Green in his recent book. .... Joshua Green, author of "Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, And The Storming Of The Presidency" on NPR's Fresh Air: "I talk a little bit about Bannon's time in the Navy. He was on a destroyer in the Persian Gulf right during the Iran hostage crisis and described to me the Middle East, Pakistan as being almost primeval. He considered Muslims these frightening, threatening people who ultimately wanted to invade the West. And I think that that is where a lot of his anti-immigrant, Islamophobic ideas really started from"

http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=537885042

Riaz Haq said...

Is critical thinking a Western concept?

By Don Watson

https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/critical-thinking-western-concept


Educators agree that critical thinking is a crucial skill for the 21st century, but is it harder to teach in some cultures than in others? Burmese educationalist Win Aung argues that critical thinking has a longer history in the East than many have recognised. The British Council's Don Watson reports.

According to IBM, 90 per cent of the data in the world was created in the last two years.

In order to make sense of this explosion of information you need to be able to tell the difference between wisdom and sophistry, between timely words of warning and interest-driven scaremongering. That power of analysis is what’s called critical thinking. It is defined by the Critical Thinking Community as the ability to check for ‘clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, significance, logic, and fairness’, to build knowledge from a range of sources, including your own experience.

Does an emphasis on critical analysis of information mean that one part of the world will be better equipped to learn the skills necessary for success? Received wisdom indicates that critical thinking is embraced more enthusiastically in the West than it is in the East. Politics, tradition and religion have, according to this view, formed a powerful triumvirate which conspires to leave half the world with an approach to knowledge that relies on rote learning, and regards questioning as anathema.

Dr Win Aung, a consultant with 30 years’ experience of working in education in Burma, accepts this view has some foundation in day-to-day life. It is particularly evident in a country still struggling to emerge from the shadow left by decades of authoritarian rule, but it is by no means the whole story.

‘We do have a more vertical and hierarchical model of society,’ Win Aung says. ‘Myanmar is largely still a country where the father rules in the home and the teacher rules in the classroom.’ But, he argues, the notion that critical thinking is a foreign concept is not just misguided, it is factually wrong.

‘Certainly in the Buddhist tradition, which is influential across the whole of Southern and Southeast Asia, there is a strong tradition of critical thinking. Some of the fundamental tenets of the Buddhist tradition are essentially an early version of critical thinking,’ he says. ‘The Buddha taught freedom of thought and freedom of enquiry to his disciples. The emphasis is on internal reflection and consideration of the value of a proposition, rather than on blind belief’.

So why is rote memorisation a predominant way of learning in Burma? The answer, Win Aung says, is partly down to the structure of the Buddhist religion. ‘The fact that Buddhist teachings are recorded in the Pali language, which does not have a writing system, puts a great emphasis on the ability to absorb and recite correctly, which consequently gained a value in the East that it was never accorded in the West’.

Riaz Haq said...

#Muslims were the real hero of #India's #Freedom struggle than so called #Hindutva Group, Says Prashant Bhushan


http://www.ironyofindia.com/2017/07/muslims-were-the-real-hero-of-freedom-struggle-than-so-called-hindutva-group-says-prashant-bhushan/

He said that almost all of the patriotic slogans and songs in the fight for freedom were written by almost all the Muslims while Hindutva organisation or group did nothing. He clearly pointed to the specific group, but the damage was done and he started getting trolled. On this tweet of Prashant Bhushan, people accused him of sacrificing religious freedom on the fate of the freedom struggle. Prashant Bhushan, in his tweet, wrote the names of the people who had given it, and who gave that slogan. Prashant Bhushan, while referring to Suraiya Tayabjee, wrote that a Muslim had a hand in shaping the country’s tricolour.


Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - The defiance of an 'untouchable' #NewYork subway worker. #India #Dalit #Apartheid #Caste

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-40702242#

Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India by Sujatha Gidla

(In New York), she says, she faced racism. And caste was right here too. She says she found "petty caste discrimination" among the Indian community.

---------

The 53-year-old subway conductor has been luckier than most Dalits back home, women especially, who suffer unspeakable cruelty, are employed in menial jobs including cleaning of human excreta and are segregated by their communities.
Unlike most of her lot, her family was "middle class", thanks to the help of Canadian missionaries in her region who aided in education and offered them religion. Her family was thus Christian and benefited with education. Her parents held jobs as college teachers.
Gidla says that proselytization didn't help her lot. "Christians, untouchables - it came to the same thing. All Christians in India were untouchable. I knew no Christian who did not turn servile in the presence of a Hindu."
The book chronicles unflinchingly the caste slurs and segregation Gidla and Dalits like her have to endure in India.

Gidla lists how she and other Dalits are humiliated in India by other castes.
They are forced to eat from separate plates and glasses in eateries; barred from the community's main source of drinking water; allowed to ride a bicycle or wear footwear only in segregated areas; rejected in love and denied opportunities. She recalls her hurt when a junior school classmate refused to touch the sweet she offered. Things like this are constant reminders to Dalits of their status as social outcastes.
Since her teens Gidla was spurred to rebel with her uncle, the rebel Telugu language poet Shivasagar, setting an example. His call to join the Communists and later the guerrilla movement of the region demanding social justice held appeal for the young Gidla.

---------

In America, writes Gilda, "people know only my skin colour, not birth status".
"One time in a bar in Atlanta I told a guy I was untouchable, and he said, 'Oh, but you're so touchable'."

Riaz Haq said...

Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (review)
Kanishka Chowdhury

https://muse.jhu.edu/article/243354

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:
Reviewed by
Kanishka Chowdhury
Gauri Viswanathan. Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India. New York: Columbia UP, 1989. 206 pp. $32.50.
In his Prison Notebooks Antonio Gramsci argues that a class can exercise its power not merely by the use of military force but by an institutionalized system of moral and intellectual leadership that propogates certain ideas and beliefs. For Gramsci "cultural hegemony" is maintained through the consent of the dominated class which assures the intellectual and material supremacy of the ruling class. In Masks of Conquest, Gauri Viswanathan uses this Gramscian model of hegemony to analyze the relationship between British political and commercial interests and the establishment of English Literature as a discipline in India. [End Page 331]
Early in the book Viswanathan clearly states that the literary curriculum was introduced in India not to demonstrate the superiority of English culture but to "mask" the economic exploitation of the colonized. The propagation of English literature among the "natives," from the vigorous attempts by the secularized government schools to the more uneasy attempts by the Christian missionary schools, was ultimately carried out to ensure the authority of the British government and to create a stable state in which British mercantile and military interests could flourish.
In the last of six central chapters, however, Viswanathan cleverly points out the inherent contradictions in the colonial project of creating an educated elite. Aside from developing a dissatisfied class that was denied any suitable employment opportunities, the literary curriculum highlighted the problems of a system which advocated both social control and social advancement.
Viswanathan is also careful not to oversimplify the British educational objectives in India. Using a variety of resources, she demonstrates the continual modification of the British educational goals which together created the discipline of English studies. Her attention to archival material and historical details often leads to fascinating excerpts, such as an examination paper by a certain Nobinchunder Dass of Hooghly College, Calcutta, who effusively praises the colonizer's culture. Much of Viswanathan's work, in fact, concentrates on bringing together various pamphlets, tracts, periodicals, and government sources. But Viswanathan is often inclined to be overly absorbed by her material, as in Chapter Two, "Preparatio Evangelica," where she devotes considerable space to a biographical sketch of Alexander Duff. Indeed, Viswanathan sometimes professes a greater interest in imperial representatives than in the material conditions that produced their work.

Viswanathan's brief concluding section, "Empire and the Canon," points out the dangers of reading nineteenth-century educational practice as continuous with contemporary English studies in India. Warning us about the "illusion of historical continuity," however, does not necessarily demystify the ironies of a postcolonial educational system in which an ostensibly leftist government in Bengal rigidly enforces the study of canonical English texts.
The value of Masks of Conquest finally is its important reminder that educational systems and curriculum developments must be judged in historical perspective. Viswanathan's intellectual history of British educational practice in India is both a compelling account of the relationship between power and culture and an indictment of the exploitative tendencies of ruling class interests. [End Page 332]

Riaz Haq said...

Split #India: #Hindu Nationalist #RSS did not support #Gandhi's #QuitIndiaMovement Against #British Raj

https://www.telegraphindia.com/1170810/jsp/frontpage/story_166526.jsp

The following are excerpts from some of the speeches that stood out:

Elephant in the room

The role the RSS did not play or did play in the freedom movement hung heavy.

Narendra Modi: Every individual in the country had become part of the Quit India Movement. Inspired by Gandhiji's words, the whole country was moving forward....

Sonia Gandhi: When we remember freedom fighters, we should not forget there were outfits and people in that period who opposed the Quit India Movement. These elements had no role in the freedom struggle.

(Murmurs of disapproval swept through the treasury benches in the Lok Sabha, and BJP member Kirron Kher was heard saying: "Sad, sad.... This is the tragedy of Parliament."Although BJP members usually do not miss any chance to register their loyalty to the parent, none got up to contest Sonia.)

Whither India?

Modi: In 1942, the clarion call was "karenge ya marenge (do or die)". Today, it is "karenge aur kar ke rahenge (we will do and surely do)". The country needs the spirit of the Quit India Movement to develop into an India of the dreams of the freedom fighters in 2022. Corruption, poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition are the greatest challenges that India now needs to overcome and we should rise above political considerations and resolve to bring about a positive change.

(The Prime Minister divided India's pre-independence journey in two phases from 1857 to 1941 and 1942 to 1947. He said the first phase was incremental but the second one - 1942-47 - was "transformative and delivered the objective". He said the country needed the same spirit in its journey from 2017 to 2022.)




Sonia: Fear is replacing freedom.... Isn't it true that there is an attempt to destroy the foundations of our democracy which rests on freedom of thought and faith, equality and social justice? We can't let the idea of India be a prisoner of a narrow, divisive and communal ideology.... It appears our secular, democratic and liberal values are in peril. Space for debate, disagreement and dissent is shrinking.

Kanimozhi: The only real freedom (to expect) is freedom from fear.... If our women, if our people, if our Dalits, if the underprivileged, the backward communities and the minorities are not free from fear of the future, then there is nothing to feel proud of.

(Kanimozhi, a Rajya Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu, recalled freedom fighters from her state who took part in the Quit India Movement without knowing Hindi. Many were non-Hindus who ate what they wanted.) Are they in any way less of Indians? Are they less than anybody else? But today, if I don't speak Hindi, people think I am less of an Indian. If I don't eat what some people think is right, or if I am an atheist, I am not an Indian. Why have we become this?

Whether it is a rape, whether it is stalking, whether it is an acid attack, it is always the woman who is being questioned. Why? Are we not ashamed of ourselves? We should be ashamed of even questioning why the woman is out.

Sugata Bose: Modiji says that the next five years will be transformative. We sometimes wonder is it transformative because the three top constitutional posts are held by people belonging to the same ideology? We cannot but express some concern. If he truly wants all evils to quit India by 2022, including communalism, in the pejorative sense of that word, we hope that he will take stronger action against those who are spreading the poison of hatred and killing human beings in the name of religion.

(Amid thumping of desks by Opposition members) I appeal to the Prime Minister to stop the engines of coercion in their tracks. Faith in India's destiny rescues us from debilitating pessimism in the face of ferocious assaults on the expression of rational difference.

Riaz Haq said...

Sense of unease among Muslims: Says retiring #Muslim VP of #India Hamid Ansari. #Modi #Lynchistan http://toi.in/5SxO0a via @timesofindia

In his last interview before demitting the office of India's vice-president, Hamid Ansari has said that Muslims in the country were experiencing "a feeling of unease".

"A sense of insecurity is creeping in" as a result of the dominant mood created by some and the resultant intolerance and vigilantism, he added. Ansari also said he shared the view of many that intolerance was growing. In hard-hitting remarks during an interview to Rajya Sabha TV, he ascribed the spate of vigilante violence, mob lynchings, beef bans and "Ghar Wapsi" campaigns to a "breakdown of Indian values" and to the "breakdown of the ability of the authorities" to enforce the law. "...and overall, the very fact that (the) Indianness of any citizen (is) being questioned is a disturbing thought," Ansari said.




Asked in an interview why he thought Indian values were "suddenly" breaking down, Vice-President Hamid Ansari answered: "Because we are a plural society that for centuries, not for 70 years, has lived in a certain ambience of acceptance."
He said this acceptance was "under threat". "This propensity to be able to assert your nationalism day in and day out is unnecessary. I am an Indian and that is it," he told Rajya Sabha TV.

On Thursday, Ansari demits an office that only S Radhakrishnan had occupied as long: 10 years.




Asked specifically about his speech on Sunday in which he spoke about a nationalism with cultural commitments at its core being perceived as the most conservative and illiberal form of nationalism, and whether the remark was about the mood of the country in 2017, he replied: "Oh, absolutely." And he agreed he had felt a personal need to underline that this need to keep proving one's patriotism, and the intolerance it made for, was unhealthy: "Yes. And I am not the only one in the country; a great many people feel the same way." Asked if he had shared these apprehensions with the PM or the government, he replied: "Yes... But what passes between the Vice-President and the PM in the nature of things must remain in the domain of privileged information."

Riaz Haq said...

#India at 70: #Lynchistan #racist #fascist #xenophobic #Hindu #Supremacist #Modi #BJP

"Mr. Modi’s rule represents the most devastating, and perhaps final, defeat of India’s noble postcolonial ambition to create a moral world order. It turns out that the racist imperialism Du Bois despised can resurrect itself even among its former victims: There can be English rule without the Englishman. India’s claims to exceptionalism appear to have been as unfounded as America’s own." --- Pankaj Mishra

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/11/opinion/india-70-partition-pankaj-mishra.html

India at 70, and the Passing of Another Illusion

By PANKAJ MISHRA
AUG. 11, 2017

August 15, 1947, deserved to be remembered, the African-American writer W.E.B. Du Bois argued, “as the greatest historical date” of modern history. It was the day India became independent from British rule, and Du Bois believed the event was of “greater significance” than even the establishment of democracy in Britain, the emancipation of slaves in the United States or the Russian Revolution. The time “when the white man, by reason of the color of his skin, can lord it over colored people” was finally drawing to a close.

It is barely remembered today that India’s freedom heralded the liberation, from Tuskegee to Jakarta, of a majority of the world’s population from the degradations of racist imperialism. India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, claimed that there had been nothing “more horrible” in human history than the days when millions of Africans “were carried away in galleys as slaves to America and elsewhere.” As he said in a resonant speech on Aug. 15, 1947, long ago India had made a “tryst with destiny,” and now, by opening up a broad horizon of human emancipation, “we shall redeem our pledge.”

But India, which turns 70 next week, seems to have missed its appointment with history. A country inaugurated by secular freedom fighters is presently ruled by religious-racial supremacists. More disturbing still than this mutation are the continuities between those early embodiments of postcolonial virtue and their apparent betrayers today.

Du Bois would have been heartbroken to read the joint statement that more than 40 African governments released in April, denouncing “xenophobic and racial” attacks on Africans in India and asking the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate. The rise in hate crimes against Africans is part of a sinister trend that has accelerated since the Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.

Another of its bloodcurdling manifestations is the lynching of Muslims suspected of eating or storing beef. Others include assaults on couples who publicly display affection and threats of rape against women on social media by the Hindu supremacists’ troll army. Mob frenzy in India today is drummed up by jingoistic television anchors and vindicated, often on Twitter, by senior politicians, businessmen, army generals and Bollywood stars.

Hindu nationalists have also come together to justify India’s intensified military occupation of Muslim-majority Kashmir, as well as a nationwide hunt for enemies: an ever-shifting and growing category that includes writers, liberal intellectuals, filmmakers who work with Pakistani actors and ordinary citizens who don’t stand up when the national anthem is played in cinemas. The new world order — just, peaceful, equal — that India’s leaders promised at independence as they denounced their former Western masters’ violence, greed and hypocrisy is nowhere in sight.


Riaz Haq said...

#India at 70: #Lynchistan #racist #fascist #xenophobic #Hindu #Supremacist #Modi #BJP

"Mr. Modi’s rule represents the most devastating, and perhaps final, defeat of India’s noble postcolonial ambition to create a moral world order. It turns out that the racist imperialism Du Bois despised can resurrect itself even among its former victims: There can be English rule without the Englishman. India’s claims to exceptionalism appear to have been as unfounded as America’s own." --- Pankaj Mishra

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/11/opinion/india-70-partition-pankaj-mishra.html


India’s lynch mobs today represent the latest and most grisly expression of such cynical political ideologies. As the sheer brutishness of Mr. Modi’s populism becomes clear, the memory of the aristocratic Nehru becomes more sacred, especially among politicians and commentators from India’s English-speaking upper castes. But Mr. Modi has also turned that legacy of high-flown promises to his political advantage.

Nehru and his followers had articulated an influential ideology of Indian exceptionalism, claiming moral prestige and geopolitical significance for India’s uniquely massive and diverse democracy. Only many of those righteous notions also reeked of upper-caste sanctimony and class privilege. Mr. Modi has effectively mobilized those Indians who have long felt marginalized and humiliated by India’s self-serving Nehruvian elite into a large vote bank of ressentiment.

Virtuous talk of unity in diversity and secularism has been replaced by a barefaced Hindu nationalism: The tattered old masks, and the gloves, have come off. The state, colonized by an ideological movement, is emerging triumphant over society. With the media’s help, it is assuming extraordinary powers of control — telling people what they should eat at home and how they should behave in public, and whom to lynch.

Mr. Modi’s rule represents the most devastating, and perhaps final, defeat of India’s noble postcolonial ambition to create a moral world order. It turns out that the racist imperialism Du Bois despised can resurrect itself even among its former victims: There can be English rule without the Englishman. India’s claims to exceptionalism appear to have been as unfounded as America’s own.

And so one can, of course, mourn this Aug. 15 as marking the end of India’s tryst with destiny or, more accurately, the collapse of our exalted ideas about ourselves. But a sober reckoning with the deep malaise in India can be bracing, too. For it confirms that the world as we have known it, molded by the beneficiaries of both Western imperialism and anti-imperialist nationalism, is crumbling, and that in the East as well as the West, all of us are now called to fresh struggles for freedom, equality and dignity.

Riaz Haq said...

INGLORIOUS EMPIRE
The lies Brits tell themselves about how they left behind a better India

https://qz.com/1053297/independence-day-what-good-did-the-british-do-for-india-during-the-raj/

Railways. The British built the railways primarily for themselves, using their own technology and forcing Indians to buy British equipment. Each mile of the Indian railway constructed cost nine times as much as the same in the US, and twice that in difficult and less populated Canada and Australia. The bills were footed by Indian taxpayers and British investors received a guaranteed return on their capital. Freight charges were dirt cheap, and Indians who traveled 3rd class paid for expensive tickets.
Tea. The British desire to end their dependence on Chinese tea prompted them to set up plantations in India. Following many failed attempts, they managed to find a local version that worked. For this, the British felled vast forests, stripped the tribals who lived there of their rights, and then paid Indian labourers poorly to cultivate the cleared areas. Once the tea was ready, it was shipped off to Britain or sold internationally. The little bit left in India was too expensive, until the Great Depression when weak global demand finally let Indians enjoy the delights of the drink.
Cricket. “Yes, the British brought it to us,” Tharoor writes. “But they did not do so in the expectation that we would defeat them one day at their own game, or that our film-makers would win an Oscar nomination for an improbable tale about a motley bunch of illiterate villagers besting their colonial overlords at a fictional 19th-century match (Lagaan, 2001).”
English language. The British made it absolutely clear that it was only taught to serve their own purpose. Lord Macaulay wrote: “We must do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons Indians in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinion, in morals, and in intellect.” (This is the same Macaulay who also said, “A single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.”)
“That Indians seized the English language and turned it into an instrument for our own liberation was to their credit, not by British design,” Tharoor writes.
The upshot of the empire, as Tharoor puts it, was that “What had once been one of the richest and most industrialised economies of the world, which together with China accounted for almost 75% of world industrial output in 1750, had been reduced by the depredations of imperial rule to one of the poorest, most backward, illiterate and diseased societies on Earth by the time of independence in 1947.”
Inglorious Empire shows in full glory how the British systematically purged India’s riches, destroyed its institutions, and created divisions among its peoples. Worse still, there has been no formal apology for what the empire wreaked on its subjects. Instead, there is rising nostalgia for the empire as nationalism surges in a country that is now three ranks below India in the size of its economy.

Riaz Haq said...

#India at 70: Why #Hindu nationalists are afraid of #Mughals. #Modi #BJP #Islamophobia http://www.dailyo.in/politics/mughal-history-mughalsarai-hindu-right-rss-hindutva/story/1/18955.html … via @DailyO

Hindu nationalists are arguably growing bolder in their anti-Muslim bigotry, as can be seen from the names they choose to fill the vacuum created by their erasure of the Mughals. In 2015, Aurangzeb Road was renamed APJ Abdul Kalam Road, and thus an acceptable Muslim - in Hindutva eyes - supplanted an unacceptable one. But Mughalsarai is being replaced by the name of a Hindutva man. Ajmer's Akbar Road is now known, blandly, as Ajmer Fort. Instead of learning about the Mughals, Maharashtrian school children will learn more about the myth of Shivaji (the actual history of Shivaji being largely unpalatable to current Hindutva sensibilities and so obscured). Such actions communicate the hateful view that only a narrow band of Hindu nationalists can qualify as patriots.

Over the last several years, Hindu nationalists have fought - with increasing success - to remove traces of the Mughals from the Indian public sphere. In 2015, Aurangzeb Road was renamed in Delhi. Other renamings have followed, including, this year, Akbar Fort in Ajmer and Mughalsarai Railway Station in Uttar Pradesh. A second front of the Hindu nationalist war on Indian history is school textbooks. The RSS has been saffronising Indian textbooks for some time, and news broke this month that they had wiped all but a few lines on Akbar from Maharashtrian textbooks.

Hindu nationalists have offered several justifications for their sanitising efforts. Early on, they rallied against honoring tyrants or "invaders," as the Rajasthan education minister described the likes of the Indian-born Akbar. As the months and years have passed, many on the Hindu Right have offered alternative motivations that deemphasise their Islamophobia.

For instance, the recent changes to Maharashtrian textbooks have been characterised by those responsible as framing history within a "Maharashtra-centric point of view." Yogi Adityanath's government has defended its retitling of Mughalsarai Railway Station as having little to do with the Mughals and instead as an attempt to pay tribute to Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, an RSS ideologue whose name the railway station will soon bear.

Such flimsy justifications do little to cover up the real fuel behind the Hindu nationalist renaming frenzy: hatred of Muslims, past and present.

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India's Hindu Right has never been good with history. For instance, in the lead up to the seventieth anniversary of India's independence, we have seen an uptick in desperate Hindu nationalist claims that the RSS participated in the Quit India Movement, in contravention to the real story that the RSS was somewhere between being aloof from the independence movement and collaborating with the British Empire.

Shame about opting out of the Quit India Movement is understandable, given subsequent historical events. But why is the Hindu Right unable to come to terms with the Mughals, an empire that ended 150 years ago in name and fell apart far earlier in terms of power? For the rest of the world, the Mughals are ancient history, best left to the musty shelves of libraries and the curious minds of scholars. So why are the Mughals - long ago decayed into the dust of the earth-so viscerally threatening to the 21st century Hindu Right?

Riaz Haq said...

#India at 70: #BJP Using History to Divide, Rule People. #Islamophobia #Hindu #Muslim #RSS #textbooks via @thenation

https://www.thenation.com/article/why-the-battle-for-indias-past-is-a-fight-for-its-future/

Why the Battle for India’s Past Is a Fight for Its Future
Seventy years after partition, India’s ruling party is using history to divide the country.

In India, history is increasingly finding its way into contemporary debates. That is in large part because Hindu nationalism or “Hindutva”—the defining ideology of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—draws its animus from the past, or at least a vision of the past. (Full disclosure: My father is a member of Parliament for the opposition Congress party, but my views on these issues far predate his political activities.)

At stake is the very conception of what defines India. Is it the pluralist civilization that leaders of the independence era like Nehru imagined? Or is Indian civilization synonymous with Hindu civilization and identity?

The BJP and its ideological allies believe that India is fundamentally a Hindu nation with a proud Hindu history. Using this as justification, it routinely invokes and attempts to correct imagined historical grievances. After years of mobilization, activists in 1992 demolished a nearly 500-year-old mosque in Ayodhya in the north of India, because it was thought to sit on top of a temple that marked the birthplace of the Hindu deity Ram.

The main target of Hindu nationalists is India’s Muslim community, who compose roughly 15 percent of the population (close to 200 million people). Islam has been in India for over a millennium, but Hindu nationalists often depict Muslims as outsiders who are graciously “tolerated,” making their presence in India a testament to foreign invasion and their history one of foreign tyranny.


All nation-states—but especially new ones—use history to burnish their claims of grandeur and legitimacy in the present. After partition in 1947, both India and Pakistan laid claim to the physical and symbolic inheritance of the Indus Valley Civilization. In 1950, while working as a consultant with the Pakistani government, the British archaeologist Robert Eric Mortimer Wheeler published an archaeological survey titled Five Thousand Years of Pakistan that sought to endow millennia of history upon a three-year-old nation. A modern nation-state drawn up by British civil servants in the middle of the 20th century can hardly be a prism for understanding South Asia’s deep past. And yet that implausible notion is still invoked by Pakistani nationalists today.

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Of course, India and Pakistan have had much more heated contests; they’ve fought several wars and remain at loggerheads over the disputed territory of Kashmir. But the battle over the Indus Valley objects presaged the enduring importance of historical symbols in modern Indian politics.

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Similarly, evidence of the plural history of India poses a problem to Hindu nationalists who want to define India as an eternally Hindu nation. That’s why they are engaged on several fronts in fighting a cultural war of historical revisionism. This battle for the past has extended to the Indus Valley Civilization. Where Nehru turned to Mohenjodaro as an example of general Indian accomplishment, some Hindu nationalists now attempt to claim the Indus Valley as a “Vedic” or Hindu culture, a dubious assertion according to historians.

These historical debates have real consequences. Since Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, Muslims and other minority groups have become increasingly demonized at all levels of society, resulting in a horrific spate of attacks, riots, and lynchings in the past year. Much like the pluralist nationalists before them, Hindu nationalists seek to impose their understanding of history on the country to mold the present. But they turn to the past in order to divide and exclude, to suggest that even though all Indians are equal, some are more equal than others.

Riaz Haq said...

Who invented Hinduism?

by David N. Lorenzen

"Over the past decade, many scholars have put forward the claim that Hinduism was constructed, invented and imagined by the British scholars and colonial administrators in the 19th century and did not exist in any meaningful way before this date"


"There is also a consensus that the name Sindhu became "Hind" or "Hindu" in Persian languages and then re-entered Indian languages as "Hindu"

https://books.google.com/books?id=SO-YmMWpcVEC&pg=PA2&lpg=PA2&dq=wendy+doniger++hindu+invented+by+muslims&source=bl&ots=0w8xqxvaoo&sig=5GqNm4lvCfHQwqI_gD_-NakWU34&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjP0bvQ5IrWAhUqrFQKHVDqBjsQ6AEINzAG#v=onepage&q=persian&f=true

Riaz Haq said...

No, Mughals didn't loot India. They made us rich
They remained as Indians, not colonists.

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/mughals-contribution-indian-economy-rich-culture-tourism-british/story/1/19549.html

From 16th century to 18th century, the Mughal kingdom was the richest and most powerful kingdom in the world and as French traveller Francois Bernier, who came to India in the 17th century, wrote, “Gold and silver come from every quarter of the globe to Hinduostan.”

This is hardly surprising considering that Sher Shah, and the Mughals had encouraged trade by developing roads, river transport, sea routes, ports and abolishing many inland tolls and taxes. Indian handicrafts were developed. There was a thriving export trade in manufactured goods such as cotton cloth, spices, indigo, woollen and silk cloth, salt etc.

The Indian merchants trading on their own terms and taking only bullion as payment, leading Sir Thomas Roe to say that "Europe bleedeth to enrich Asia".

This trade was traditionally in the hands of the Hindu merchant class who controlled the trade. In fact, Bernier wrote that the Hindus possessed "almost exclusively the trade and wealth of the country". The Muslims mainly held high administrative and army posts.

A very efficient system of administration set up by Akbar facilitated an environment of trade and commerce.

It was this which led the East India Company to seek trade concessions from the Mughal empire and eventually control then destroy it.

A very interesting painting in possession of the British Library painted by Spiridione Roma, named The East Offering Her Riches to Britannia, dated 1778, shows Britannia looking down on a kneeling India who is offering her crown surrounded by rubies and pearls. The advent of the famous drain of wealth from India started with the East India Company not the Delhi Sultanate or the Mughals.

Edmund Burke was the first to use the phrase in the 1780s when he said, India had been "radically and irretrievably ruined" through the company’s "continual Drain" of wealth.

Let us examine India’s economic status prior to its becoming a British colony.

The Cambridge historian Angus Maddison writes in his book, Contours of the World Economy 1–2030 AD: Essays in Macro-economic History, that while India had the largest economy till 1000 AD (with a GDP share of 28.9 per cent in 1000AD) there was no economic growth. It was during the 1000 AD-1500 AD that India began to see a economic growth with its highest (20.9 per cent GDP growth rate) being under the Mughals. In the 18th century, India had overtaken China as the largest economy in the world.

Riaz Haq said...

How the British convinced Hindus that Muslims were despots and religious invaders

The East India Company wanted to be seen as a rectifier of the historical harm inflicted by the Muslims.


https://scroll.in/magazine/850787/how-the-british-convinced-hindus-that-muslims-were-despots-and-religious-invaders


It is a fact not so easily known, thus rarely acknowledged, that the British colonial project in India at one moment turned into an excavation of India’s pasts. This excavation was aimed at exploring the arrival of various foreign people, cultures, religions and politics into the subcontinent. After all, the Indian peninsula had been the site of commercial, political and military incursions by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the Timurids since 1498. Surely, one reason for the excavation was that, as the latest foreigners to arrive in India, the British wanted a justification for their own arrival. The other reason is tied to the way in which the British saw themselves as heirs to the Romans.

Edward Gibbon published the first volume of his book The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in 1776, the year Great Britain lost 13 of its colonies in America. All six volumes of the book came out by 1788 to tremendous acclaim and sales. A central theme in Gibbon’s work was his quest for historical linkages between Pax Britannica – the period of British-dominated world order – and Pax Romana.

He provided the foundational stone for a theory that sought to legitimise British colonial enterprise as a successor to a great empire of the past that brought a long era of peace and prosperity for Europe in its wake. Even more influential, I would argue, is his exploration of the relationship between race and politics within the context of the Roman experience. This relationship was immediately employed in legitimising the British conquest of India.

---------------------

John Jehangir Bede’s doctoral dissertation, The Arabs in Sind: 712-1026 AD, was written within this academic context. Submitted to the University of Utah in 1973, the thesis remained unpublished until Karachi’s Endowment Fund Trust for Preservation of the Heritage of Sindh printed it earlier this year.

We do not know why Bede never published his work. Notes on the dust jacket of the book state that all attempts to trace his family or career were largely unsuccessful. The only thing we know is that he worked with Dr Aziz S Atiya, an influential historian of the Crusades, and that his work has been cited and expanded upon by historians such as Derryl MacLean, Mubarak Ali, Muhammad Yar Khan and Yohannan Friedman in the 1980s and 1990s. How are we to read this dissertation in 2017? One possible way is to see what the history of Muslim origins in India, as well as the historiography detailed above, looked like in 1973.

Bede starts his dissertation by reflecting on the fact that the history of Sindh has received little contemporary attention. He observes that this is because there have been relatively few textual sources for this history and that historians have been “generally subject to preconceived prejudices mainly colored by the religious outlook of particular authors”.

Instead of treating the Muslims as religious invaders, he explores an economic basis for their conquest of Sindh by examining a variety of sources, earliest of which date to the middle of the 9th century. In his last chapter, Commerce and Culture in Sind, he draws upon travelogues, merchant accounts and poetry from the ninth and 10th centuries to argue that there once existed an interconnected Indian Ocean world in which Sindh was a pivot.

Riaz Haq said...

A conversation with Dr Audrey Truschke, the author of Aurangzeb: The life and legacy of India’s most controversial king

http://twocircles.net/2017jun19/411640.html

Truschke points out that Aurangzeb was fluent in Hindi from childhood, and quotes the Italian traveler Niccoli Manucci about Aurangzeb “He was of a melancholy temperament, always busy at something or another, wishing to execute justice and arrive at appropriate decisions.” She also quotes Ishvaradasa, a Hindu astrologer, who wrote about Aurangzeb in Sanskrit in 1663 calling the king righteous (dharmya) and even noted that the King’s tax policies were lawful (vidhivat). Truschke’s point is not that Aurangzeb was just but rather that a wide variety of individuals, including “Hindus,” identified Aurangzeb’s pursuit of his vision of justice as crucial to his kingship.

She also quotes the following stanza authored by Chandar Bhan Brahman, a Hindu, Persian-medium poet in Aurangzeb’s employ:

O King may the world bow to your command;
May lips drip with expressions of thanks and salutations;
Since it is your spirit that watches over the people,
Wherever you are, may God watch over you!

She continues “Hindus fared well in Aurangzeb’s massive bureaucracy, finding employment and advancement opportunities. Since Akbar’s time, Rajputs and other Hindus had served as full members of the Mughal administration. Like their Muslim counterparts, they received formal ranks known as mansabs that marked their status in the imperial hierarchy and fought to expand the empire.”

Truschke quotes Aurangzeb’s February 1659 farman “You must see that nobody unlawfully disturbs the Brahmins or other Hindus of that region, so that they might remain in their place and pray for the continuance of the Empire.”

Truschke concludes “I have argued that Aurangzeb acted according to his ideals of justice, commitment to political and ethical conduct (adaab and akhlaq), and the necessities of politics. Aurangzeb’s worldview was also shaped by his piety and the Mughal culture he inherited. He was not interested in fomenting Hindu-Muslim conflict – a modern obsession with modern stakes- but he was fixated on dispensing his brand of justice, upholding Mughal traditions, and expanding his grip across the subcontinent.”

I interviewed Dr. Truschke about her fascinating new book “Aurangzeb: The life and Legacy of India’s most controversial king.”

Riaz Haq said...

What #India's textbooks don't tell us: Why the #Rajputs failed miserably in battle for centuries. #Mughal #Muslims

https://scroll.in/article/728636/what-our-textbooks-dont-tell-us-why-the-rajputs-failed-miserably-in-battle-for-centuries

The home minister, Rajnath Singh, wishes our school textbooks told us more about the Rajput king Rana Pratap, and less about the Mughal emperor Akbar. I, on the other hand, wish they explained why Rajputs fared so miserably on the battlefield.

A thousand years ago, Rajput kings ruled much of North India. Then they lost to Ghazni, lost to Ghuri, lost to Khilji, lost to Babur, lost to Akbar, lost to the Marathas, and keeled over before the British. The Marathas and Brits hardly count since the Rajputs were a spent force by the time Akbar was done with them. Having been confined to an arid part of the subcontinent by the early Sultans, they were reduced to vassals by the Mughals.

The three most famous Rajput heroes not only took a beating in crucial engagements, but also retreated from the field of battle. Prithviraj Chauhan was captured while bolting and executed after the second battle of Tarain in 1192 CE, while Rana Sanga got away after losing to Babur at Khanua in 1527, as did Rana Pratap after the battle of Haldighati in 1576. To compensate for, or explain away, these debacles, the bards of Rajputana replaced history with legend.

Specialists in failure

It is worth asking, surely, what made Rajputs such specialists in failure. Yet, the question hardly ever comes up. When it does, the usual explanation is that the Rajputs faced Muslim invaders whose fanaticism was their strength. Nothing could be further than the truth. Muslim rulers did use the language of faith to energise their troops, but commitment is only the first step to victory. The Rajputs themselves never lacked commitment, and their courage invariably drew the praise of their enemies. Even a historian as fundamentalist as Badayuni rhapsodised about Rajput valour. Babur wrote that his troops were unnerved, ahead of the Khanua engagement, by the reputed fierceness of Rana Sanga’s forces, their willingness to fight to the death.

Let’s cancel out courage and fanaticism as explanations, then, for each side displayed these in equal measure. What remains is discipline, technical and technological prowess, and tactical acumen. In each of these departments, the Rajputs were found wanting. Their opponents, usually Turkic, used a complex battle plan involving up to five different divisions. Fleet, mounted archers would harry opponents at the start, and often make a strategic retreat, inducing their enemy to charge into an ambush. Behind these stood the central division and two flanks. While the centre absorbed the brunt of the enemy’s thrust, the flanks would wheel around to surround and hem in opponents. Finally, there was a reserve that could be pressed into action wherever necessary. Communication channels between divisions were quick and answered to a clear hierarchy that was based largely on merit.

Riaz Haq said...

Islam in South Asia presdates Mohammad Bin Qasim's invasion.


http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/74835/1/blogs.lse.ac.uk-Book%20Review%20A%20Book%20of%20Conquest%20The%20Chachnama%20and%20Muslim%20Origins%20in%20South%20Asia%20by%20Manan%20Ahmed%20Asif.pdf

A Book of Conquest: The Chachnama and Muslim Origins in South Asia is a critical literary, historical
and intellectual analysis of a 13
th century Persian text which tells the story of the Arab invasions of
Sindh in the 7-8
th centuries. Asad Abbasi finds the book an important re-examination of a key text
which has been used to perpetuate the myth that Hindus and Muslims are historic enemies, despite
offering a moral conduct for governance.
A Book of Conquest: The Chachnama and Muslim Origins in South Asia . Manan Ahmed Asif.
Harvard University Press. 2016.

------

Asif implies that previous commentators have invariably selected, chopped, derided, ridiculed, and ignored parts of
the text to fit their own agendas. But there are two common assumptions that still hold, primarily because of how Ali
Kufi frames his work: first, the Chachnama is a translation of an Arabic manuscript, and second it is a book about
conquest in eighth century Sindh. Asif rejects both these assumptions. He argues the Chachnama is an original
book of political theory written in Persian addressed to the audience of thirteenth century Sindh.
Asif builds on work by Muzaffar Alam and A.C.S. Peacock in challenging the notion that the text is a translation.
Alam, an eminent Mughal historian, proposes that translation was key part of ‘Persianisation’ i.e. process for the
elites to move away from religious values towards more secular methods (p. 55). Peacock, Professor of History at St Andrews, views the translations of that period as ‘transcreations or commentarial interpretations’. Asif highlights that
in the 13th century claiming a book’s Arabic heritage was customary but also very prudent for raising author’s
profile. Kufi’s contemporaries such as Awfi and Juzjani are known to have employed similar methods. The historians
of thirteenth century may call their own work translations but ‘saw pedagogy and self-reflection as key function of the
texts’ (p. 60).
Asif also argues that the Chachnama does not fit the mould of other conquest narratives within Arabic
historiography. These differences are stark: while the conquest narrative deals in proper names; the Chachnama
gives ‘general attributes’ and uses generic citations (p. 63). The Arabic conquest literature focuses on plot of the
story, description of land and regions; Kufi, instead, writes about ‘inner turmoil, deliberation, doubts and planning of
the campaign’. The conquest narratives paint dismal picture of pre-Islamic times; Chachnama informs the reader of
the wealth and resources in Sind before Muhammad Bin Qasim. Furthermore, unlike the conquest narratives, Kufi
draws comparisons between the Hindu ruler Chach, and the Muslim ruler Bin Qasim (p. 66). Based on these
differences, Asif contends that the Chachnama is not a conquest narrative but ‘an Indic political theory’ which is
‘deeply ingrained in the physical geography and spatial constraint of the thirteenth century’ (p. 67).
Asif’s interpretation differs significantly from those of earlier commentators.

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The falsehood that Hindus and Muslims are enemies who have been engaged in conflict since time immemorial is
perpetuated by centres of power to establish legitimacy. The British used it to legitimise colonisation, for Pakistani
state it provides legitimacy for military expenditure and for Hindu nationalists it becomes the basis for delegitimising
last one thousand years of Indian history. Asif’s new volume seeks to challenge the misinterpretations of the
Chachnama that has arisen from its use in these instrumental narratives.