On being simply notified by a twitter user and an RSS ideologue, Ratan Sharda, the Ministry of Culture has removed a certain paragraph about the Mughal Empire from the KnowIndia website. Though being an uncertain, barely noticeable incident, this brings concern as the kind of changes being done to the ethos of the country’s history and culture is both alarming, and welcomes danger to marginalised communities. The politics of name changing is a staple of the current dispensation and by shifting focus to issues of nationalism, culture, etc., the state has become a machinery of ideological suppression by changing history.
The critique that needs to be participated in and contributed by historians, anthropologists and other scholars, have been now, taken over by mouthpieces of the ideological vehicle that runs the current ruling party. Mughal history is one that has had its own complexities, but by not seeing it from a socio-political lens of history, the current government is encouraging the right wing’s urge to bring a communal Hindu-Muslim binary to the vey idea of thought, in history. This is very well executed by the cyber helpers of the RSS, to transcend every conversation about history to that of a milieu of Hindu-Muslim rivalry, something that was not the determining factor of conflicts during the monarchy.
Recently the Uttar Pradesh government is planning to change the Urdu/Persian names of major towns to those of Sanskrit origin. This urgent move from the Yogi Adityanath government conflates with the popular demand of the country’s right wing to erase the Muslim historical identity that is embedded in the India soil. Historian and Professor emerita at JNU, Romila Thapar recently pointed out that historians should insist on pointing to evidence. The construction of a ‘new past’ is integral to the growth of erasure that’ll enable the ostracism of communities that are attached to those historical identities in the country.
Akmal Ahmed is a final year Masters student in Sociology at the University of
Hyderabad. He is interested in politics, human rights and education.
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