It is such a pity that the problem that we used to have, of a near-blind reverence of our leaders from the time of independence, has now been replaced with a near obliteration-by-means-of-rewriting of our history from that time.
The pre-2014 version of Indian history, particularly the independence era, does not have in it much of an acknowledgement of the mistakes that happened at time. All the tragedies from that time, particularly the violence that followed the partition, finds little accountability in the history books and official version as someone’s responsibility. It is something that organically happened that nobody has any ownership for.
I have always found that to be a problem. Confident nations are able to examine their histories, particularly the troublesome parts, learn the lessons from them and move ahead in a manner that gives them a good chance of avoiding those mistakes in the future.
But our new era of reinterpreting history worsened the existing problem and pulled it in an altogether different, terrible, direction. We now have the other binary that everything that was done by the liberal/progressive leaders were terrible and there is nothing worth remembering from that time. If it were not for them, we could have been an entirely different powerful and prosperous country.
Almost everyone who has gained power succumbs to the temptation to rewrite history to a version of their liking; and, in that this is nothing new. But they do retain some degree of contact with what happened. The current one is quite unhinged as evidenced by the that reads something like below.
Thousands of years ago, India had a spectacular place on the world map; be it cultural, religious or one of military prowess. The centuries that followed, waves of foreign invaders looted the destroyed the country. The last wave of which included the Mughals and the Brits. Independence was a mess that broke up a singular, large India and the 70-years post-independence saw India being looted by Indians. Nothing good happened in this time and we were again robbed of our place in the powerful world. Post 2014, many of those ills are being fixed and everything is going to be great again.
This bothers me a lot, as it wipes out any instance of episodes or aspects of the country that one can like from that time. I was listening to Harsha Bhogle’s new podcast on the Indian space program and it just struck me as so brave for a country in the shape that it was in the 1950s dared to create a space program for itself, which, at that time was a novelty.
There are so many other aspects, similar to the space program, that is now getting buried under this binary once-over that is being done. We had Panchayati Raj, the green revolution, the vaccination program, just to name a few. An entire generation is going to grow up knowing little about them as it gets pulled under the ‘everything sucked’ carpet.
And that is just so sad.