Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Saturday, January 04, 2003

ABC of pseudo-secularism

Author: Vijay Kumar Malhotra
Publication: The Hindustan Times

A tribe of pseudo-secularists in India have arrogated to themselves the right of expressing their views even in the textbooks for children.

It does not bother their conscience if the subject of their writings is history relating to events of national importance. They float on intellectual pride on an assumed self-righteousness. They smugly close their eyes on the monstrous lies perpetrated by sadist elements among our erstwhile imperial rulers or the prejudiced communal minds of past historians, whose overpowering desire was to distort our legacy, denigrate our social norms and destroy our national pride.

As part of the same tradition, some of our recent so-called historians and over-rated intellectuals tried to repeat the myths in our textbooks, which had the potential of poisoning the young minds with wrong assertions and blurred interpretations of the otherwise poignant episodes in our chequered history. The Romila Thapars, Satish Chandras and their clan, refused to budge from their arrogant versions and insisted on the correctness of their prescriptions as an inscription on the wall. On wider inquiry and deeper scrutiny, it could be found that they were misguided by superficial sources and did not have any unimpeachable historical authority to rely upon.

Perhaps, they were too keen to appear liberal among the present generation of Indians to ingratiate themselves to a class of people inside and outside the country so inimical to us. It did not matter to them that as 'historians' it was their duty to correct the past mistakes and to put things in the correct perspective. Their social conceit stood in the way of taking remedial action which could have easily been done without raising so much dust of controversy.

It is in this context that the NCERT had to remove certain portions from the textbooks to clear the cobwebs of prejudice and ignorance. One of the gems of Satish Chandra related to the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth guru of the Sikhs, in 1675. He is a saintly figure in the Sikh faith, who made the supreme sacrifice to save the much-oppressed Hindu community from the bigotry of Aurangzeb. Many a chronicle has been written about the inextinguishable thirst of the Mughal ruler to forcibly convert Hindu droves. Even the tenth guru, Guru Govind Singh, in his autobiography, Bachittar Natak, has ascribed the execution of his holy father in Delhi's Chandni Chowk to his noble effort to protect the frontal mark (tilak) and the sacred thread (janeyu) of the Hindus.

And look at Satish Chandra's version in his history book on medieval India for Class XI. According to him, after the return of the guru from Assam, in association with one Hafiz Khan, he resorted to plundering and raping, laying waste the whole province of Punjab. And he attributes this to some unspecified Persian source. He adds that according to Sikh tradition, the guru's execution was due to intrigues of some members of his family.

Chandra mentions the cause of Aurangzeb's annoyance with the guru to his act of converting a few Muslims to Sikhism! He does not say a word about the countless conversions carried out by the fanatic ruler. It is for the people of India to assess such historians, who unwittingly or deliberately, impose their interpretations on the masses.

According to Romila Thapar in her book (Class VI), for special guests, beef was served as a mark of honour. According to Arjun Dev and Indira Arjun Dev (Modern India, Class VIII), Jats founded their state at Bharatpur from where they conducted plundering raids in the regions around and participated in court intrigues in Delhi. Some other diseased minds of the so-called historians have denied the existence of Lord Rama at Ayodhya and Lord Krishna in Mathura around 2000 BC and 200 BC-300 AD respectively. These are not only attempts to create confusion, but to strike at the roots of the Hindu heritage.

Who are the protagonists of such theories to demolish the faith in Hinduism? The communists - whose atheism takes them to the portals of hatred for the Hindu way of life. They were against the freedom of India from foreign rule. And when freedom came, the Communist Party of India sent a delegation to Stalin of the Soviet Union to help them in a coup against the government of India, as they perceived the Hindu ethos as the single biggest bulwark against communism in this country.

Everything that the NDA government does for the nation is dubbed as an effort at 'saffronisation'. And this effort may be aimed at only removing the vestiges of falsehood in the history books for our children.
It is paradoxical that even after the Supreme Court has dismissed a petition filed by some misguided persons, the latter have dug their heals in refusing to accept the verdict. Sonia Gandhi has gone on record saying that her party would not accept the curriculum developed by NCERT and the schools in states ruled by the Congress would continue with the old curricula. That hits the nail on the head of a party which has been claiming to be the conscience-keeper of the nation and a tool for progressive change.

It was nothing short of blasphemy on the part of another Congress boss, Salman Khurshid, who said on TV that Sita was not from India. One wonders if there is a coordinated plan among the Congress bigwigs to distort Hindu mythology and history. They seem to be taking their 'secularism' a bit too far, as they are trying to trample over the Hindu tradition.

It would be best to let the Congress and their cohorts stew in their own juice. With the verdict of the apex court, the ghost of saffronisation has been laid to rest. A new dawn is beginning in the horizon of school education. It would now be possible to give the students an insight into multiculturism, social rights and human values. A new initiative is in the offing to build scientific temper among children. The anchor of education would be the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi and the thought of our national leaders.
One can only hope that the present Congress president would not claim exclusive rights to the philosophy of the Mahatma. Her party has done enough to denigrate what Hinduism stands for.

Recounting the Supreme Court verdict, 'value education', based on the good points of all religions, will contribute to the building of a secular ethos. But the Congress thinks otherwise. They are calling the verdict just a legal victory and not a real one. Their convoluted minds view every good thing done by the NDA government as furthering the 'Hindutva' agenda, as if it were a hoodoo.

The coming elections are not going to take place on the Hindutva plank. What the BJP believes in is to strengthen the nation's unity on the basis of undivided loyalty to the nation, adherence to its territorial integrity and the agreed economic reforms. But the pseudo-secularists try to exploit even a tragic event to reap a short-term advantage.

It would be pertinent to ask the Leftists to set their own house in West Bengal in order, where the education policy is highly backward. Let them rewrite their books full of jaundiced information on India's past. Let them rectify their own blunders before upbraiding the NDA government's efforts to rationalise education.
If the Congress and the Communists have the good of the nation at heart, let them remove their blinkers and see the direction in which the country wants to go. Let them eschew obscurantism and megalomania and be humble to strengthen the nation's unity and well-being.

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