May 01, 2005

Shortcoming in Historic Analysis in Indian History

While writing a conclusion to a review of a book titled “Jinnah’s Early Politics: Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity” , Dr. V. N. Datta has concluded thus, “This scholarly work warns us that in historical analysis, we must not examine leaders in a linear way. There are ups and downs in the vicissitudes of human affairs. To see things in black and white is unfair.”

In the above mentioned article the scholar has reviewed a book by Ian Bryant Wells, “Jinnah’s Early Politics: Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity”.

The book has dealt with the life of Jinnah from 1910 to 1934. During that period, Jinnah has been studied as a liberal, constitutionalist and staunch nationalist.

On the other hand, in Indian history books, Jinnah has been studied from 1940 onwards under which he has been shown to have unleashed the communalist forces just to carve out Pakistan. He has been showed to have killed Wavells plan, C. Rajagopalacharia plan and Cabinet Mission Plan. He had been studied to show that it was he who was against the one nation theory and it was he, who could not go along with Gandhi.

The issue here is not that what Jinnah did, or what Gandhi wanted. The question here is the historical analysis. Dr. V. N. Datta has pointed out to a shortcoming of history writing in India from which this subject has suffered in India and also as a result the two countries have suffered.

Such points has been raised in Review View Analysis and in different articles which I have written. I have raised the same contention in Education forum.

Those who know the history of India from 1857 to 1947, and have studied it from books written in India, they would find the references in the article of V. N. Datta some fascinating observations. It may be fascinating for them, but they also tell you some thing else if they fascinate you. It shows that history of India as being told to India is written from one perspective. It is written to project one personality, one party and one national programme of one party. A true analysis from the perspective of pure history has not been done. As a result, whenever some questions of past look into our face in present, it creates confusion and problems. Such questions may be the issue of re-writing the history of India, the question of Kashmir, the question of relation with China, the questions of personal laws of various communities. All such questions can be answered only if we are able to define and perceive our history in correct perspective. A common man may not read history books. It should not be even insisted upon him. History does not need any propagator to do that job. The issue of soft borders and people to people contact doctrines now being projected so loudly are not engineered by some foreign department of one or other country. It is the history which is making them to seek them as solutions and present realities are forcing them to articulate in the forms in which they are doing. If they are getting responses, then, they should not pat their back. They are not that intelligent or godly to make large number of people weep when they meet their relatives on either side of the borders. It is not the home or foreign departments of either countries which created such relations. They were there because of the history of the countries. These departments were the impediments in natural course of the movement of the different happenings. Those people who have met, and those who come across the borders finding and searching for their old villages or those crossing over to search for their roots, are not student of history but the breathings of history.

Issue is not to discuss all those things as narrated above. The issue is the historic analysis. The issue is that it is not being done rightly in India. In the name of research, more and more articles are coming, but what they are not doing is to place the pieces at their right place in the matrix. They are not clear about their matrix, which includes the definition of history which should guide the article, the methodology which should follow some fixed standards which has yet not been decided by the historians and the role of their topic which it will play in promoting the cause of history but not of one ideology. The issue is that we are writing and doing research not for India and India history but responding to some objections or playing to promote some ideology. The pure history suffers and with that the common man and real nation suffer.

The remark of the scholar as quoted above has suddenly ended after touching the first chord. He should have elaborated it further. It may the constraint placed by editorial policy of the newspaper. Why does Dr. Datta not make his blog and write with some more freedom?

It is will be a matter of great curiosity to learn that how the present pseudo-nationalist would react at the phrases used in the title of the book. In the conclusion of the article also, though it is a review, but even then, a message is conveyed that Jinnah was a great nationalist.

Now it is not that some thing out this world is being said in the article or the book which is source of the article of Dr. Datta. It comes back to same thing, that, it is a shortcoming in the historic analysis from which present historiography of Modern History suffers.

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