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History writing needs liberation from colonized mindset
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History writing needs liberation from colonized mindset

There is an imperative need to decolonize the mind-set of the history writers so that they feel free to write the real history that transcends national pride among our generations to come

Post by on Wednesday, December 29, 2021

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When India got independence from the British yoke in 1947, the first thing that should have been brought on priority of the socio-political spectrum of the country should have been the history of India that the generations of the country were supposed to study in schools, colleges, universities and thereafter. Each nation in the world desires to instill a sense of pride among its people through the study of history and also makes its people realize about the mistakes of the past so that the same are not repeated in future. In order to be perfectly articulate and correct in this regard, the history writing must be a professional effort devoid of any sort of a particular mind-set than the nationhood at the core of it.

Unfortunately, in case of our country, it didn't happen nor was it attempted immediately after the achievement of freedom from the Britishers. The colonial mind-set among our rulers and the so-called intellectuals who had access and reach to the necessary and desired instrumentalities and tools connected was overwhelming, stark and real. The colonial mentality is the absorbing and internalized attitude of ethnic, civilizational or cultural inferiority felt by people as a result of colonisation. It corresponds with the belief that the cultural values of the colonizer are inherently superior to one's own. The interesting but complicated thing about colonialism is that it encompasses not just politics, education and economics, but consciousness of the nation too.

The initial rulers post independence and their pet and nourished intellectuals assumed a role with the support of the government to be among the most important sections of the society that had an overwhelming impact upon the mind of the common masses. Psychologically speaking, their colonial mentality led initially to their own collective depression, anxiety, and other widespread issues leading to operational concept for framing ideological domination in historical colonial experiences.

For a colonized people- before, during and after colonisation- the land is always their first and foremost essential aspect of life. Their description of the land they live on is the most important feature of their nationhood and collective consciousness. In case the same is put in a doubt in a historical perspective, the nationhood naturally becomes soulless and without the warmth of national consciousness. It carries its effect through generations. The transgenerational effects of colonialism through the study of orchestrated and concocted historical interpretations cut at the roots of nationhood and national awareness.

It needs to be understood in perspective that the colonized people perpetuate their condition by striving to emulate the culture and ideas of their oppressors. 'Imperialism leaves behind germs of rot which we must clinically detect and remove from our land but from our minds as well', said Frantz Fanon, the critical theorist, in his study of psychology and sociology in context of the colonized people. It was ironic for the Indian nation that the initial post-freedom era politicians led by Nehru instead of guiding the history writers in context of the national spirit and goals allowed them to be guided by the complexes of the colonised mind-set.

The first rot they pursued with was the 'Aryan-invasion' theory which had no concrete foundations on the basis of an independent research. The theory had been initially carried forward by the Britishers in India during their rule. Such was its impact on the minds of the intellectuals of that era that before partition, Dr. Mohd. Iqbal, the creator of the famous poem in praise of India, "Sarey Jahan Sey Achha Hindustan Hamara" referred to the so-called Aryans coming to India in his poem. He said, 'Aey aabi rudey Ganga, woh din hai yad tujko, utra terey kinarey, jab kaarvan hamara'. It was de facto an admission of the concocted theory that 'the people in India who call themselves its natives were basically outsiders who settled in India thousands of years before'. It virtually equated them with the other invaders and foreign rulers and brought them at par.

The views of genius historians like R.C.Majumdar, Jadunath Sarkar and the likes were not allowed the central stage by the liberal and Marxist lobby nurtured by the corridors of power. In addition, under the garb and in the name of secularism, the mediaeval barbaric invaders in India were accepted by the new history writers, like Romila Thaper, Irfan Habib and men and women of their ilk as genuine rulers of the land. They promoted mediaeval history of India and ignored the ancient history and thus derecognised the civilizational flow.

The history was so written as if while these foreign rulers were busy with their persecutions against the natives, the rest of India had reconciled to their oppression and suppression. The truth is that the history that was called by them as the history of these barbaric foreign rulers was actually the history of struggle by the natives against them. The nomenclatures like 'Alexander the great' or 'Akbar the great' had no relevance in the historicity of India yet these terms were pushed through and imposed on the young minds without any concrete or tangible reason.



There was a time only 50 to 60 years back when local history of a place would be the main part of the curriculum of history in primary and middle classes in the schools. It would educate the young minds about their history at grassroot levels and also make them aware about their civilizational and cultural aspects of their native places. For example, the students in J&K were supposed to study and know about the history and geography of all the regions of the state including Jammu, Kashmir, Baltistan, Gilgit, Ladakh and the Punjabi speaking areas of Poonch, Mirpur and Muzaffarabad. This was unfortunately done away with under the new educational policy after 1960s. Over the last five decades, children have no idea about their very intimate history while knowing many things about the world history.

The history writers had such a psychological complex about these issues due to their colonised mind-set that they preferred to omit these aspects from the curriculum with the approval of the governments concerned. Ramayana and Mahabharata were also a part of the historical content of the syllabus as the indigenous ancient history of India. It would, besides giving an account of the historical events, pass on the lessons of morality to the young minds. However, the so-called secular and liberal ideological facade went against it and stopped such a traditional practice of study of history.

Colonised mind-set has a terrible opinion about the indigenous culture, history, traditions, civilization and the religious practices of the people of their own land. For them, anything that belonged to the foreign rulers and their society was always superior and thus better to follow. They even ridiculed the traditional and local dresses,  festivities and rituals of the people of the nation believing that the dresses, attire and festivals of the people who colonized them were far civilized and worth to follow. This is evident from their accounts of history that they produced over the last half a century.

There is an imperative need to decolonize the mind-set of the history writers so that they feel free to write the real history that transcends national pride among our generations to come. It is time after seven decades of our freedom to liberate our history from the deep colonisation effect in true sense, particularly when the people have brought change in the government at the centre in and after 2014. In order to achieve the objective, the government of India needs to be firm and decisive in this national mission to right the wrongs already done. The nation awaits the reformative change in this direction at an earnest.


(The author is a senior BJP and KP leader and Incharge, Deptt of Political Feedback BJP-J&K and can be reached at ashwanikc2012@gmail.com

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