Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Harbans Mukia and his Critique of Indian Historiography

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books In the Hindu dated 27th October 2015, Professor Harbans Mukhia published a scathing critique of Indian historiography and with the hyperbole that comes naturally to the Left Liberals he terms the present political situation as a threat to "historiography". Is there any substance to this argument? It has become a fashion to decry the nationalists in and out of season and even if the nationalists are absolutelu quiet, it appears that the liberals would like a dog fight. For the past sixty five years, India has not seen any major shift in the paradigm within which History is debated: Communal versus Secular, Marxist versus the rest. Such contrived debates do little either to the profession of History or to the tasks that Historians have to perform in their societies. As memory keepers, Historians play a vital role in ensuring that the past does not become a victim of Lethe, the River of Forgetfulness. In India, we have seen a concerted attempt at rewriting the past keeping the objectives of the Nation State of 1947 in mind and as a consequence Indian Historiography is truncated and distorted. Can we study Kushana History without taking the larger context of Eurasia into consideration. Similarly can one study the Delkhi Sultanate without taking the Mongol context and how can one study the so called "Slave" dynasty without looking at the fact that the same Selujek Turks ruled Persia and Anatolia around the same time. My argument is simple: Indian historians rushed in to manufacture a so called National Secular Historiography and enshrimed that in the portals of the University and any attempt to question it was lampooned as "communal" and "reactionary". Can we forget the manner in which stalwarts ofIndian Historiography like Sir Jadunath Sarkar and R C Majumdhar were deliberately set aside as "Rankean" and "Reactionary". Mercifully Dipesh Chakravorthy has in his Calling of History studied the towering work of Sarkar. The need to satisfy the left of Center regime that came into power with Indiara Gabdhi in 1971 resulted in a virtual moratorium on debate in Indian History. The agenda of Historical Research was now set by the Left which was keen on looking at social and economic history to the exclusion of Political History. R S Sharma's highly original intervention in Indian Feudalism made historians discover feudalism everywhere. The appropriation of Indian Historiography entirely by the Left made meaningful debate impossible. For example, at the theoretical level, one must investigate the notion of feudalism as a metaphor for the medieval period as a whole. It has become passe to invoke James Mill and admonish anyone who seeks to ask searching questions as a blind adherent of the "colonial" school. The Left Liberals captured the UGC through Professor Satish Chnadra, the Ministry of Education through Professor Nurul Hassan and theICHR through Professor R S Sharma and his students. While the House of History has many rooms, Indian Historians stated letting out the rooms only to their shosen tenants and turned the MANSION OF HISTORY into a mere appartment block. The fall of the Congress Government has created the climate for new questions to be asked and these questions have remained ignored for the past several decades. For example is the Arayan/ Dravidian dichotomy a valid premise for early history of India. Similarly, did Sanskrit as a language serve only the instruments of religion and power or was there as Sheldom Pollock points out, there was a Sanskrit Cosmopolis. These question remain unanswered inspite of nearly seventy years of socalled research. The Left Liberals were guily of hounding the dissidents to the point of death. Harbans Mukhia himself was a victim of the intolerance of th Left and he should remember. The manner in which the Bhatariya Vidhya Bhavan series was ridiculed by these scholars goes to prove their intolerance. The Let Liberals have finally realized that sarkari historiography with a post colonial flavour will not wash.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Supreme Court of India and the Judgement on NJAC

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books The Indian Constitution envisaged a Parliamentary Democracy in India and over the years, thanks largely to the unmitigated abuse of power and corruption of successive Central Governments, particularly the Congress Party and its Allies, the political system as it presently states is viewed with suspicion by the rest of the country. The decline in the legitimacy of the political institutions has led to un elected elements like the CAG, the EC and quasi autonomous bodies to relegated a degree of freedom to themselves which was not envisaged on desirable in a democratic country. The Judiciary has always been a law unto itself as it does not subject itself to any scrutiny and of late, THE CREDIBILITY OF EVEN THE SUPERIOR judiciary has been called into question. A few years back there was a raging controversy over a Chief Justice, and the matter about his involvement in certain judgments still lingers on. The Constitution states quite clearly that the Executive which is accountable to Parliament must have a major say in the appointment of justices. It was Indira Gandhi's fascist talk of "committed judiciary" that alarmed the Judiciary and as the Central Government became weak under an assortment of non Congress Government. the Collegium System evolved which essentially meant that judges appointed judges. It is this imbalance of giving primacy to the Judiciary in matters relating to appointments that sought to be rectified in the National Judicial Appointments Commission which envisages a role for both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the selection of the Judges. In every democratic country the Executive and the Legislature appoint the higher judiciary. In USA the President nominates and the Senate confirms. Even the USA does not have a Judiciary which perpetuates itself by appointing itself and arrogating to itself the right of appointing judges in the name of Independence of the Judiciary. The concept of Indepemdent Judiciary does not embrace the notion of an unaccountable judiciary which is the situation under the Collegium sysytem. The basic flaws under the judicial collegium system was rectified by the present law which was passed by the Parliament unanimously. The Lok Sabha for all the flaws in our existing Parliamentary system is the representative of the Sovereignty of India and the Supreme Court cannot and should not undermine that. It is likely that some amendment will be made and the role of the Executive in the appointment of Justices will be restored. By striking down the Constitutional Amendment, the Supreme Court has undone the basic structure of the Consitution which makes the Parliament the source of law and the fountainhead of political will.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Dadri Killing and the Liberal Reaction

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books In Dadri, a suburb of New Delhi, located in the state of Uttar Pradesh a murder took place. A man suspected of killing a calf and eating its flesh was set upon by a furious mob and killed. This unfortunate incident took place when the state was ruled by the Samajwadi Party and the ruling Party at the Center, the BJP has nothing to do with the event. Yet, Azam Khan, better known for the alacrity with which the police of UP traced his missing buffaloes, made it a point to politisize the killing and insinuate that the BJP is general and one particular leader was responsible for the crime. The fact is that the Law and Order situation in UP is appalling and no one but the state Government can be blamed. First Azam Khan wrote a letter to the United Nations complaining of this incident. When India is trying to deal with the terror network sponsored by Pakistan, it is highly condemnable that a politician from the troubled state of UP should chose to write to the UN.The killing of the man was unfortunate. However instead of identifying the ral culprits, the state police sought to give a political spin and pin the blame on the BJP. Such mindless politicization of essentially criminal acts result in the real culprits escaping the long arms of the law as the police are more keen to help their political masters by providing fodder for the internecine wars between the so called "secular" alliance and the nationalists. Then the cry went out: Modi should speak. It defies logic to demand a statement from the Prime Minister whenever a petty crime takes place. Narendar Modi, like the US President made a routine statment condeming the killing. Whenever there is a white on black killing or there is mass shooting deaths in USA, President Barack Obama comes out with a statement. Do such statements reduce the number of killing. Apparently not. In the last decade or so there have been 18 reported instances of mass shootings in USA. Nobody demands the resignation of the President as if he is responsible for the crimes. Here the liberal Media,immediately gets into hyperactive mode and the Barkha Dutts and the Rajdeep Sardesais and the Karan Thapars come out of the woodwork to link the BJP with the crime. A few months back there were a spate of attacks on Christian religious institutions and the White countries lined up to condemn India as if the Government was responsbible for encouraging the attacks. It turned out that Bangladesh immigrants were responsible for the crimes and the liberal media did not report the facts. There is a law in place banning Cow Slaughter. Now the liberals encouraged by the white world are using this law to paint a picture of India as if the ban on cow slaughter is a symptom of religious fanaticism. We may say that all over the world the vegan movement is gaining strength and in India, beef consumption is taken as a sign of how "secular" one is. Rightly then gropus of people, armed and ready to protect Cattle from being slaughtered are gaining strength all over North India. Cow Protection Leagues are sprouting all over North India and cattle transporting trucks are stopped and the cattle freed. There is a law in place against the illegal killing of cows and that law is not being enforced. Therefore, people are taking the responsibility of enforcing the law into their own hands. One unfortunate fallout of the Dadri killing is that some octogenarian writers have started surrendering their state awards. Nyantara Sehgal who received the award 2 years after the biggest killing os Sikhs in 1984 by the goons associated with the Congress Party has suddenly found the virtue of secularism. Similarly another poet, Ashok Vajpayee has given up his award. It is time for the state to stop giving awards and later such awards become the basis for propaganda. Wriers have a right to dissent, but political correctness cannot be the basis of dissent.