India is a land of thousand myths but no memory. We, as a people, have absolutely no recollection of our past, only mangled fantasies and half-true gossips. May be one of the greatest tragedies of the nation is that its tragedies and triumphs have faded away from the public consciousness, replaced by only hazy legends and complete apathy.
Of course, India does not stand alone in misunderstanding its history or reinterpreting its past to suit to contemporary political or nationalistic needs. Glorifying catastrophes and turning heroes into villains or vice versa has been a long-standing sleight of hand employed in countries around the world.
However, the degree to which this pervades in India is astonishing and terrifying. An average Indian high-school student would be hard-pressed to name all of nation’s wars since independence. Our national leaders follow ideologies that fundamentally misunderstand centuries of Indian history. Meanwhile, the country goes through riots and senseless violence based on factually incorrect recollection of past events.
There are several contributing factors to this unfortunate state of affairs. Indian school textbooks provide anemic accounts of the past that are simply untrue. Society’s elders dispense rumors and indictments of history in trains, buses and living rooms. Politicians twist facts to suit their own agendas. History departments in universities remain practically non-functioning due to lack of resources and talent. The government and individuals refuse to release any records for public consumption. Bookshops continue to stack their history sections with more copies of Mein Kampf and whatever political biography is in vogue these days. Meanwhile, we remain apathetic.
Finally, there remains a paucity of writers to translate for public consumption whatever academic research is being carried out by a handful of scholars. It is to this end that this blog is being created.
It is not an attempt to rewrite Indian history with a political agenda. It is definitely not a post-colonial revision (something that I have little faith in). And it is not a showcase for original research (although I may be tempted at later a stage). The aim here is simple – a recounting of the great tale of India and its journey through time. Synthesizing research carried out by accomplished and reputed scholars and explaining it in a simple and interesting manner for the general public.
And in its own humble way, this blog hopes to contribute to the collective memory of our people.