The word civilization is among those words which may have no certain definition as the concept is very wide. But by any account Indian civilization is one the oldest and the most diverse civilizations in this world. What prompts me to write an article on this topic is the ‘tradition’, in the 5 Ts of Modi, talent, tradition, tourism, trade, and technology. You cannot survive being cut off from your roots.

 

The Indians of our generation, who continue to be a product of Macaulay’s Minutes and his education scheme for India do not realize the importance and value of being among the oldest civilization and a continuous one at that. It is must for a country not to forget its root. I am choosing to write about the topic as of late and in fact every time NDA has formed the government, the students of Macaulay and the communists accuse BJP and RSS of the “saffronization of education or Bhagvakaran in Hindi.  You would not find that word in Oxford dictionary, it means rewriting Indian history with a certain mindset to glorify its past with, as many communists and other ‘secular’ forces say, writing with a Hindu mindset. I would not endorse writing wrong facts, but it’s the interpretation of the facts that makes history. It is unfortunate that India continues to be a country which has to get certificates from so called seculars and communist to write history. Under Modi, it is not going to continue.

India is one of the countries whose history was not written by people who understand the nuances of its culture. For instance, for most westerners India is a country where women do not have equal status.  We do not need ‘feminists’ in this country the way the west defines it, all we need is giving the Indian women their right place in the society. Do we want women who want to be paid for their duties as a mother like many women wants the western countries? Will Indian women ever demand so, the answer is NO. Indian women are one of the most compassionate in this world and most ‘Selfless’ as well. It is the time we value them not just in words but in our actions as well.

I have chosen the title after a book by the same name written by A.L. Basham which has been in the print for 50 years now.

The book still serves as a stepping stone for many foreigners as a guide to Indian history. But one thing becomes evident is that it remains a foreigner’s guide to Indian History. Interpreting history requires a deep passion and at the same time the ability to understand the nuances of a culture which takes a lot of time to develop. With all the sincerity that I have in me, I would like to say that west has a certain inferiority complex viz a viz eastern civilizations. This inferiority complex manifests in a certain need to find reasons to be superior. For the most part of our documented history, we have been well ahead, be it mathematics science, astronomy, astrology. Just because we have been behind for past 300 years doesn’t mean that all that we have achieved in the past thousands of years stands useless.

The recent controversy about appointments of members of ICHR, Indian Council for Historical Research, shows that many in India’s political circle still want to abide by the western traditions of history. To them Wendy Doniger’s book Hindu’s: An Alternative History is not objectionable no matter what it attempts to portray and how she interprets India’s ancient scriptures.

India is yet to give credit to its eminent historians and, in fact, its history, its writers like Tagore, Premchand and Mahasweta Devi whom I find equally in not more great as Chekov. I admire the legend of Devi Kannagi, the Tamil deity as exciting as any other in this world.  I tried hard to find in Mona Lisa what is so great about her that makes the painting the best, as it is called by many. I find the paintings of Ajanta to be better and far better than that. I find the Kandariya Mahadev temple, an unparalleled architectural wonder that no Eiffel Tower can match. You may not like to hear this, but certain sections of India’s intelligentsia would accept the Harvard or an Oxford degree as the benchmark for everything even if it is not related to India. To them, western yardsticks to measure the greatness of Indian culture are a must. Perhaps this is what Modi meant that what you need is hard work and not Harvard.

We need a synthesis of many Indian identities and histories so as to offset any divisive elements among us yet preserve the identities of individual cultures. That requires starting the arduous task of re looking at our history so as help in defining a composite identity. As an Indian I take pride in magnificent architectures of our temple no matter whether they are made in North Indian Nagar style or South Indian style.

In India, History is not kept safe in museums. It is in the streets, in our everyday life, in our temples. This country has a continuous history without any aberration for more than past 5000 years. Unfortunately, Indian history textbooks are written with a certain mindset and that doesn’t do justice to its greatness.

I am an avid reader of Indian History, after reading quite a few books I do find a need to give good re-look to Indian History.

I find it amusing how the western world chooses to preach India on secularism. India does not need certificates from those who abolished the cultures natives of America, the whole of the Americas is predominantly Christian today.  India doesn’t take away children from its scheduled tribes like they did in New Zealand, USA, and Australia. I question the moral ground they have to preach us about pluralism. In fact, many Indians find this amusing. Indian culture doesn’t require one to adopt rather it assimilates different cultures without a loss of identity.

As an Indian I place a lot of faiths and take pride in being a part of Indian civilization and would like us all to realize the importance of it. At the same time, 3we must not tell history with vested and skewed interests as it would do a lot of harm in the long run. What we need is to tell our coming generation how rich our culture is despite many ill practices that had plagued our society for many years. We should cherish the diverse elements of our composite culture and teach our children to respects the ideals of our civilization.

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Contributor: Sachin Diwaker

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