At the Red Fort, on August 15, 1947, the past and the present had coalesced to mark a newly independent nation’s step towards the future.
The many who condemn Aurangzeb cannot be swayed because they base their ideas on an ideology of India as a Hindu nation, in which Muslim rulers are inherently illegitimate, rather than on documented historical facts.
In ‘Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth’, Audrey Truschke sifts popular imagination on the ruler’s personal and political life from historical realities.
Whatever happened in the past, religious-based violence is real in modern India, and Muslims are frequent targets. It is thus disingenuous to single out Indian Muslim rulers for condemnation without owning up to the modern valences of that focus.
Rajeev Kinra’s Writing Self, Writing Empire is a window into the life and writings of Chandar Bhan Brahman, a skilled Farsi poet and a munshi who served in the Mughal court under emperors Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb.
What the Rohith Vemula and Najeeb Ahmed cases tell us about how India’s relationship with its ‘others’ – the minorities – is pathologised by the enforcement of exaggerated discourse of difference amidst unrecognisably similar lives and cultural practices.
Historians should reject both excessive focus on precolonial Islamic violence, as well as a secular whitewashing that is insensitive to local memories and histories.
In the darkest hour of partition, when the whole of East Punjab was engulfed in a frenzy of communal violence, the town remained calm. And has stayed that way ever since.
Bhimsen is distressed that landowners are exploiting the peasantry, there are defections to the Marathas, and lawlessness in the countryside. But there is little evidence in his book of the anti-Hindu policies attributed to Aurangzeb today.
For those who wish to protect modern India’s secular and democratic identity, there is no need to defend the religious chauvinists of centuries past.
Work on Indian history is increasingly threatened by those who cling to a fabricated past filled with religious conflict and display fierce animosity toward anybody who brings up evidence to the contrary.
Shah Jahan discovered that in the Bhimbhar region of Kashmir, it was common for Muslim boys to marry Hindu girls, with the boys then converting to Hinduism. He tried to stop it but found that his diktat had no effect
India must give importance not only to ‘eminent’ personalities from the past and present but must also be open to integrating marginal and subaltern figures in the commemorative pantheon.
To not have your patriotism questioned, you have to be fortunate enough to be born into the majority community.
It is colonial history that we propagate today when we view Akbar and Aurangzeb as merely “good” or “bad” Muslims and not as rulers whose actions were guided by complex considerations
The despot is not in fact being executed by the act of renaming a road; he is being brought to life again.
As recently as April 2015, the government told Parliament that 1975 guidelines did not allow the names of existing roads to be changed.
The promised liberation from ‘1000 years of slavery’ remains a war-cry to fool the gullible. But those who have some idea of medieval India know that it was not a particularly repulsive place to inhabit.
A man who should be commemorated with a museum of science for children has been fobbed off with a road-sign.