Hindutva fanatics want to rewrite history to hide the fact that they haven’t done much for India.
The top goal of the Modi government has been to rewrite Indian history to make it more red. Bhide Guruji, a supporter of Hindu Rashtra from Maharashtra, once said, “The Muslim invasions, the British taking over, and Gandhiji becoming the Father of Modern India are three big attacks on our great Hindu culture.” Now, the saffron think tanks are trying hard to get rid of what they call “assaults” on ancient Hindu culture that happened in the last eight hundred years.
The recent “rationalisation” effort by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to get rid of chapters on the Mughal empire and parts of textbooks that talk about the ban on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) after Gandhi’s death is just a clever way to change Indian history. The goal of this trick is to change the story of our past in a way that fits the current political project.
When a Hindutva terrorist killed Gandhi, it was a wake-up call for everyone, and the Hindu-Muslim riots stopped as the country went into sadness. Even though it’s in the books, the Hindutva group doesn’t like that. At best, they want Gandhi to be a symbol of “cleanliness,” since Gandhi’s principles of truth and nonviolence stand in the way of the lies and violence that Hindutva supporters always believe in.
Also see: Writing a ‘new’ history to support the Sangh Parivar’s agenda
On the other hand, Hindutva extremists think that the crimes of Mughal attackers from hundreds of years ago are the fault of Muslims today. They don’t realise that India’s constitution makes Muslims equal citizens with them. They don’t like the colonial buildings from the British era, so they are spending crores of rupees to build a new “Hindutva era” parliament while ignoring the growing hunger and unemployment of the people who that parliament is meant to represent.
What we get through WhatsApp these days are white lies about our past. But for many decades, these false gossip campaigns were heard in RSS shakhas. Since 2014, these efforts have been going on because the Modi government has helped them. But official history books can’t include what can be said on WhatsApp. To change how people see things through textbooks, you have to be smarter about how you use saffron.
The saffron group wants history books to leave out facts like the fact that Hindutva forces killed Gandhi. It is the worst thing in their history that they killed the most respected Sanatani Hindu and the most famous Indian in the world, who was also an apostle of peace and a symbol of the highest ideals of human civilization. Gandhi created the modern idea of Indian nationalism, which the RSS is now trying very hard to take over and replace with a more aggressive Hindutva doctrine.
A gift is given to Mahatma Gandhi in a train compartment. Photo: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons, unknown author
The people who work for RSS want Gandhi to be forgotten, and they have been doing this by shortening and watering down Gandhi’s history, which is actually a great part of India’s history. Historians and other smart people have criticised these kinds of moves and are blowing the whistle on efforts to change the past.
But we live in a time when “lies” are called “perception management” and “political frauds and crimes” are called “strategy.” The deputy governor of Jammu and Kashmir tried to make people doubt Gandhi’s law degree so he wouldn’t have to answer questions about Narendra Modi’s college degree. Gandhi’s ideas, which the “saffron brigade” attacks, will have to be put to use sooner or later to stop the moral decline that is happening all around us.
White lies in Amrit Kaal
The Hindutva regime has a lot of problems with India’s past since Gandhi came to power in 1920. Their Amrit Kaal began in 2014. Between these two important years, 1920 and 2014, the idea of modern India, with all its flaws and problems, kept changing in different ways. No one thought a country in the third world that grew out of systematic looting by imperial powers could ever become a developed democracy, but it did. The seeds were planted during the freedom fight, which Gandhi led. For the first time, he got a lot of people in India to work together politically. Dr. Ambedkar’s constitution enshrined that idea of a country with many different kinds of people that is run by modern laws. During his long time as India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru made the country stable and kept religion out of politics. He laid the groundwork for a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic nation.
Now, WhatsApp texts from RSS shakhas, which have grown into multi-billion dollar IT cells, say that Gandhi was a British agent and that his whole national political movement was just a show. These WhatsApp forwards tell you that the Constitution is a lie and that Ambedkar just “copied” it from the British. And Nehru was the most popular hitting target because he liked women and had his clothes washed in Paris. In the coming years, this will be the academic level of our modern history.
We all know that rulers write history, but these rulers are rewriting history, possibly because they know they have nothing new to say and more to hide, like their small role in the freedom movement.
Hindutva’s politics are based on taking advantage of people’s religious feelings and dividing society. It’s much easier to start a fight than to make friends. Taking money out of the economy is much easier than building up the economy and making jobs. It is much easier to change statistics and facts than to get real results.
Harshavardhan Purandare and Sandeep Pandey are both members of the Socialist Party (India).