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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2040

Converting India Into Pakistan

BY Atul Cowshish - Syndicate Features

It is a strange paradox. While the distance between India and Pakistan is increasing day by day, the country is being recast as a mirror image of its radicalised and paranoiac western neighbour. The present dispensation is speeding up this transformational project while refusing to see that it can lead the country, like Pakistan, with few admirers in the world in a not too distant future.

That will be a tragedy of the highest proportion at a time when India does look to attain greater heights internationally. It has already become something of an envy of the greatest power on earth, the United States of America, for producing techie wizards and is on way to becoming one of the great economic powers in the world. That has been possible because India started to look forward, not backward. This is certainly not to say that India rejected its past that is supposed to be ‘glorious’ to move ahead. Indians take pride in their past without letting it come in the way of accepting modern, scientific and rational ideas.

History has been chosen as the instrument for a reconstruct of the hitherto dominant narrative scripted by men and women of proven intellect and scholarliness even though they have been accused of being or influenced by the ‘Left’ thinking which has now become another word for ‘anti-national’. The ‘right’ gladiators who seek a ‘course correction’ of the past ‘distortion’ of Indian history need to ponder over a very basic question: Why have they failed to establish and prove intellectual supremacy over the ‘decadent’ and ‘anti-national’ historians of the ‘Left’? Is it because of intellectual deficiency?

It is apparent that the motive behind the current moves to revise textbooks in schools in the BJP-ruled states is as much political as it is to serve the ‘nationalist’ agenda of the Sangh Parivar that rules the country today with complete authority. Its grip over the government is much stronger than it was during the previous BJP-led NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who despite his RSS moorings, commanded respect across a wide spectrum of Indian politics.

Vajpayee is sometimes accused of being an ‘admirer’ of Jawaharlal Nehru but that was surely not the reason why during his tenure as prime minister, no organised attempt was made to erase his name from school textbooks, as is being done in the BJP-ruled states today. If Vajpayee had any admiration for Nehru it was not because of his politics but because of his other qualities which included tolerance for dissenting voices. Vajpayee was one of the severest critics of Nehru’s China and Pakistan policies.

The Sangh Parivar ought to known that Nehru’s China and Pakistan policies have been and continue to be criticised by many who owe no allegiance to the Sangh Parivar. But most of these ‘non-Parivar’ critics of Nehru would disapprove the idea of deleting his name from the history of freedom struggle and the years after Independence. And certainly it sounds plain idiocy to not even mention that Nehru was the first prime minister of free India when you want to damn him for the ‘disgrace’ of the 1962 Chinese invasion and taking the Kashmir issue to the United Nations.

The Sangh Parivar has always mocked at Nehru’s advocacy of scientific temper in the country because it is supposed to undermine ‘Indian culture’. The ‘Hindutva’ concept of the Sangh Parivar derives its strength from ‘Indian culture’ which looks like replacing science with myths and legends. A nation with people who learn not to question and examine any thought or belief that defies rationality cannot belong to the present world.

One of the factors that have considerably lowered the image of Pakistan in the world is the process of ‘Islamisation’ which started in full earnest during the rule of Gen Zia-ul-Haq and has continued unabated. The Pakistanis learn from their textbooks not only to disrespect and ridicule religions other than their own but also that their country’s history has nothing to do with its non-Islamic past. They learn about the many splendours of the Islamic rule in undivided India, not about the thousands of years before that.

Pakistan has no history of freedom struggle as we understand it in India. The Muslim League under Mohammed Ali Jinnah confined its battle to the drawing rooms and amiable ambience of good things in life and smug with the knowledge that the British rulers of the sub-continent agreed with the Two Nation theory of Jinnah.

If there is any reference to Mahatma Gandhi in Pakistani textbooks, it paints him as a villain and a crafty ‘Bania’, used pejoratively. The ‘Hindu’ leaders are invariably reviled in textbooks. It is common in Pakistan to hear politicians and other public figures use foul language against Hindus.

How will it look if something similar is to happen in India? It is not that relations between the two largest communities in India are ideal. But India has been readily accepted as a secular and tolerant nation where the Constitution gives freedom and equal rights to the majority and minority communities. Will India look the same by decrying modern outlook and after textbooks gloss over the architects of India’s broad-minded policies?

There is a view that today’s ruling party wants to project its own ‘icons’ and since the list is too short, certain ‘icons’ from the Congress, who can be presented as ‘nationalists’ and ‘victims’ of the ‘Nehru cult’, are being appropriated. There is certainly merit in the allegation that during its long rule the Congress concentrated on eulogizing and deifying the Nehru-Gandhi family.

But it cannot be countered by eliminating all traces of the Nehru-Gandhi family and replacing them by those favoured by the Sangh Parivar, especially when some of these luminaries had sought pardon from the British for supporting the freedom movement. If RSS leaders have to be immortalised in school textbooks they can co-exist with the names of others. The process of selective omission of names from the textbooks will amount to distortion of history. It will be imitation of Pakistan and will, therefore, lead to the same disastrous consequences for India.

- Asian Tribune -

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