On the eve of Bharat’s 77th Independence day, Indian history needs revisiting
History, as a discipline is highly relevant to the times that we live in. It is true that it is neither the best of subjects nor with the most prospects of employment.
People tend to discredit the history as a dreary subject full of dull facts, dates and names.
But let’s be honest, with the changing socio-cultural and political milieu of our country, the need to study history has become all the more necessary.
Why Should it be Studied?
The understanding and study of history is necessary to understand one’s roots i.e. from where a person has descended.
The discipline helps individuals to understand their identity, their roots, their purpose in life and their socio-cultural surroundings.
Further, the reading of the past is necessary to understand what negative and nasty things occured in the past so that we can improve our actions in the present and develop a far better future.
For example- if Jewish children are not made to study their history of persecution, starting right from the Roman Empire to the Holocaust, then they will never know the history of their community.
Similar is the case of Hindus, if they don’t their glorious past and persecuted status in the Middle ages by Islamic invaders, they will never develop the spirit of resistance.
Next, research has found that studying history helps us in making better humans.
But how exactly?
Well, studying history helps, according to psychologists like Steven Pinker, Joshua Greene and Jordan Peterson to become more empathic.
It helps in improving the critical, especially the empathic and altruistic portions of the cortex in the brain.
Studying history is also a sine qua non for developing nationalism, albeit healthy nationalism.
For example-it was the thorough knowledge of their tormenting past that the African people in the 1950s and 1960s rose in revolt against their European masters and decolonized their countries.
Indian History Revisited
Having articulated the need to read history, now, let’s turn our attention on the need to revisit history-Indian history.
The leftist generation of historians-Bipan Chandra, Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Satish Chandra all wrecked havoc in Indian history writing.
They undermined Indic history and glorified the invaders-Delhi Sultans, Mughals and other Islamic invaders.
This led to the emergence of a seige mentality of a generation of Indians who regard that India has no indigenous history, and what is there is the history of invaders-outsiders.
In the old NCERT textbooks, there was little mention of Lalitaditya Muktipad, Bhima II, Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Chakravarthy Chandragupta Vikramaditya (of the Gupta empire).
Aurangzeb, the despot was glorified as a ‘Wali’. Audrey Truschke did that in her controversial book Aurangzeb-The Man and The Myth.
But no more, we will rewrite history as it should be.
The mantle has already being carried forward by a new generation of popular historian scholars- J Sai Deepak, Vikram Sampath, Sanjeev Sanyal, Sandeep Balakrishna, Madhu Kishwar etc.
This is why Indian history needs revisiting.
The inclusion of Sanjeev Sanyal, Sudha Murthy, Shankar Mahadevan on a new NCERT textbook panel is a welcome change.
I firmly hope more such changes will be forthcoming and the people of India will welcome this with open arms.
That is why Indian history needs revisiting.