Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are not the first Sangh Parivar leaders to aim to delete alleged “distortions” from history as it is currently presented, studied, and believed (file photo)

By asserting that it was it was time to focus on the “part of history (that) was intentionally suppressed” in a conspiratorial way, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 25 virtually endorsed the Indian Council of Historical Research’s (ICHR) recent decision to launch a project to “rewrite” Indian history.

The Prime Minister effectively justified the project by baring his displeasure at how India’s history has been studied so far when he alleged that what has been promoted so far is “just about slavery.” Modi said, “There are countless stories of victory over tyranny during the long period of repression. The mistake of not placing those events in the mainstream is being rectified now.”

The Prime Minister’s statements were preceded by Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s assertions a day earlier when he donned the garb of chief adviser to historians. He asked: “Who is stopping us from presenting history properly and in a glorious manner?…I request all students and university professors to get over with this narrative that history is not correct” and remove “distortions” in history.

The Prime Minister, as well as the Home Minister, made these remarks at a special programme organised by the Assam government in New Delhi to mark the 400th birth anniversary of 17th-century Ahom general, Lachit Borphukan, who successfully marshalled troops to ward off advancing Mughal troops.

Modi and Shah’s statements were made days after the ICHR move became known, courtesy media reports. In fact, Modi foisted a new target to disparage — history as taught in the pre-Modi era was termed a “colonial conspiracy.”

While evoking the memory of Borphukan and alleging that he has been ignored because of a planned design, the Prime Minister spoke of the “brave sons and daughters” who fought “oppressors” in “every corner of the country.”

Most of these valiant characters Modi and Shah referred to lived in the period the Prime Minister usually terms as “1200 years of slavery,” an allusion to the medieval period.

Peculiarly, while attacking India’s leading historians for being part of the colonial conspiracy, the periodisation of Indian history of Hindutva groups is on the lines of British historians led by James Mill, who, in the early 19th century, divided Indian history into Hindu, Muslim, and British, with a three-volume work, History of British India.

In fact, it is not wrong to say that Hindutva historiography is rooted in colonial view of Indian history.

Underlying sentiments are old hat

Modi and Shah are not the first Sangh Parivar leaders to aim to delete alleged “distortions” from history as it is currently presented, studied, and believed. The underlying sentiments in their statements at the event, conceptualised and mounted mainly because Borphukan clashed with Mughals (and thereby “foreign”), are old hat and have been stated several times by Modi and even Shah.

For instance, at an event in Banaras Hindu University in October 2019, the Home Minister called for rewriting history from an “Indian (read Hindu) point of view.” This underscored how important it is for the Hindu right wing to alter people’s perspective on the country’s history. The primary intention is to present Indian history as Hindu history and vice versa.

From the early decades of the 20th century, when Indian nationalist thought became more articulate, it split into two divergent and conflicting paths. The basic points of difference included how Indian history was viewed by the two groups.

This story was originally published in . Read the full story here