November 19, 2005

Rizwan Kadri on Sardar Patel

It is believed that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi had never fought any election in his lifetime. Secondly, there is no reference to the election participation by Gandhiji himself in his autobiography, "My Experiment with Truth".

The Second established notion in the history of Modern India is that it was Gandhiji who had given the label of "Sardar" to Vallabbhai Patel, the first Deputy Prime Minister of independent India and first Home Minister in the cabinet of Jwahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Republic of India.

Dr. Rizwan Kadri (37) has presented his doctoral thesis to Gujarat University under the title Sardar Patel – Ek ‘Sinh Purush’. In his thesis, on the basis of archival records, and publications like Prajabhandhu (Gujarati – since defunct) and Gujarat Mitra (Gujarati), it is proved that Mahatma Gandhi had contested the 1915 Gujarat Congress Subject Committee election. Again in 1919,Gandhiji contested Gujarat Sahitya Parishad election. It is stated therein, as per a report in India Today, Volume XXX, Number 46, November 15-21, 2005, released on November 14, 2005, a publication of Living Media India Ltd, New Delhi, that Gandhiji had lost both the elections on both the occasions. It is believed that he had never stood in any election after that.

Further, it is again stated in the report of the India Today, in their Offtrack section under the pen of Uday Madhurkar, that Dr. Kadri believes that it was not Gandhiji who had bestowed the label of ‘Sardar’ on Vallabbhai Patel. It was the people of Bardoli, who had started calling him Sardar. This fact is also claimed by Sumit Sarkar in ‘Modern India 1885-1847’.

Nature of Reporting on a Muslim Scholar:

The achievement of Dr. Rizwan Kadri, a lecturer in Swaminarayan Arts College, Ahmedabad, under the organisation, which is famous for Akshardham Temple, is really commendable. However, while reporting the achievements of the scholar, a peculiar tone has been given to the article.

It is reported in the Offtrack section of the prestigious India Today magazine. The Offtrack is a general feature of the prestigious magazine. Under this section, reporting is done on such personalities and activities which are generally in nature of individual achievements. That justifies the tile of the section as Off Track.

The achievement of Dr. Rizwan Kadri in the eyes of the reporter seems to be an individual achievement. He has concluded his 430 words report on the scholar in the following words.

"In age of short attention spans, Kadri stands out for his dispassionate and meticulous research."

Being a student of history, I have felt perturbed. India is suffering from one major shortcoming. There is great need of scholarly work in major areas in social, political, cultural and economic fields. However, all such research is coming from outside and Indian scholars especially in the field of sociology, history, anthropology and archeology, are just reacting to what the foreigners are saying about this part of world. This is not some thing new. Similar view had been expressed long back by Romila Thapar. Here, it is pointed out in field of other social sciences also. Whenever, some good work comes up, it is rated as offtrack. That is the irony. It is a cause of agony for many of the teachers and scholars in the field of social sciences.

Further, the reporter had pointed out what the scholar has found in case of relation between Patel and Jinnah and also in case of Lokmanya Tilak. Similarly, his scholarly work and its findings are compared with the views of Mulana Azad. The value of his work is not rated for its contents but emphasized on the point that who has done it.

There are some other reports on Dr. Rizwan Kadri. Those reports are related to the activities of the employer of Dr. Kadri. There is a report on the web site of Swaminarayan Gadi in which the release of the book of Dr. Rizwan Kadri had been reported (One may find the photograph of Dr. Rizwan Kadri standing in silken Kurta in there). The report is projecting the activities of the organization more than the actual achievement of Dr. Rizwan Kadri. Similarly there is report by the same organization on the activities of NSS. It is specifically pointed out that social work had been supervised by Dr. Rziwan Kadri. I just fear that at the maximum he would be appointed as Principal and with that "dispassionate" scholar will whittle under the weight of his gratitude and work. Similarly, there is another report on K. K. Shastri (100) (a report of Asian Age) a veteran founder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad. It has been attributed to this legendary personality that he is mentioning the name of Dr. Rizwan Kadri in order to bring out the real nature of the present fight of Hindus under Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

There is another report on the preservation activities Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. It is about preserving the historic buildings in Gujarat which is actual heritage of Republic of India. Now there is a general neglect of such buildings by the Indian nation on the whole. However, in that report also, the news piece considered it important that Dr. Rizwan Kadri should be quoted. The report has been picked from Indian express another important news publication of India. Well in case of this report, it can be understood, that as the building in question is somehow associated with Sadar Patel, and the scholar being an expert on it, he is the right person for such comments.

Being a student of history, I have been making this point, that there is need of reinterpretation of Indian History and some real work which is not coming up. There is a need that print media should also take up this issue. However, the way it is being taken, leaves lot to be desired. A scholar is not identified for the contents of his work but for his religion. The achievement of the scholar is emphasized not on the basis of his work but on the basis of his religion. The religion of the scholar is subtly being used to convey a different message. The actual message should have the need to identify nature of the research activity in India but that is not there and it is well projected in the quotation of a reporter given above.

I wish a great success for the young scholar. However, I fear that he may not be used as a tool. This is what for which the history and historians are being used. I can just feel the hurt of Firdausi, when he was cheated by Mahmud Ghaznavi.

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