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Arun Shourie on History




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A case in which the English version of a major book by a renowned Muslim scholar, the fourth Rector of one of the greatest centers of Islamic learning in India, listing some of the mosques, including the Babri Masjid, which were built on the sites and foundations of temples, using their stones and structures, is found to have the tell-tale passages censored out... more


 

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At first, the demand-cum-assurance was, "If you can bring any proof showing a temple had been demolished to construct the mosque, we will ourselves demolish the mosque". A host of documents -- reports of the Archaeological Survey of India going back to 1891, Gazetteers going back to 1854. Survey reports going back to 1838 were produced which stated unambiguously that a Ram temple had been demolished to construct the mosque"... more

 

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Of course, he said, Hindus who became Muslims must be taken back into the Hindu fold. Otherwise our numbers will keep dwindling- we used to be around 600 million by the reckoning of Ferishta, the oldest Muslim historian, now we are just 200 million. "And then", he continued, "every man going out of the Hindu pale is not only a man less, but an enemy the more."... more

 

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The depths to which society had pushed sections of its own induced the latter to convert to Islam, for them the conversion was a liberation, and the people who even today do not see this are "lunatics", says Swami Vivekananda... more

 

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On January 2, 1937 a Professor of Philosophy from Poland, Krzenski came to see Gandhiji. Krzanski told Gandhiji that Catholicism was the only true religion... more

 

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The traditions of India were rich as can be. They had attained insights of the first order. A person who has reflected on what the Buddha has to say on the workings of the mind for instance, one who has even a little acquaintance with Buddhist works on psychology will find the writings of, say, Freud to be high-school level reductionism... more

 

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But have we no rights to proclaim our faith, to preach Gospel? You are the editor of such a large news-paper. You express your views on issues. Do we not have the same right? It was Bishop George Anathil, of Indore, the Chairman of the Commission for Proclamation of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India... more

 

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But in looking at the ritual, at the idol, at the concept, why not start with the opposite assumption? Why start by assuming that they are empty, that they are the remnants of superstition? They had occurred to, they had been devised by seers, by persons of great insight... more

 

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'It is a miracle... can be likened to the building of the Gothic cathedrals of Europe... There is no doubt that London has acquired a significant new building of traditional Indian beauty and interest... We can be grateful that this has happened in a part of London that needed transforming'... more

 

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The super-speciality hospital which Satya Sai Baba has set up in Putaparti, the water schemes which have been inaugurated in Anantpur district to mark his 70th birthday will, of course, make the difference between life and death to vast numbers. The other point about projects undertaken at the direction of these teachers is their managerial excellence. The projects are invariably completed on schedule: it took just three years from the permission being granted for the temple in London to its being opened for worship..... more


 

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All sorts of lessons are being propounded from the events of fifty years ago. But, as usual, political correctness is keeping commentators from facing up to the fundamental lesson. The fundamental premises on which the country was partitioned were that (i) religion defines nationhood; (ii) though they do not have a common language, though they are separated by a thousand miles, the Muslims of East and West India are a nation because of their common adherence to Islam; (iii) moreover, Muslims are a separate nation from the rest who inhabit the sub-continent; (iv) they can never get justice in a united India for they will be swamped by the Hindu majority; (v) once they are given a country of their own, prosperity, justice, fraternity and all else will flow automatically; (vi) as Islam is a religion of tolerance, brotherhood and equality, as it places human dignity above all, people of all beliefs, creeds, races, languages will enjoy equal rights, and live in liberty and fraternity.... more

 

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No one in the twentieth century has done as much to rid us of untouchability than Gandhiji. He attached more importance to ridding Hinduism of this accretion than to attaining Swaraj. He brought upon himself the hostility of orthodox opinion in western India, in the South by his uncompromising stand on the matter. But the other day, speaking during the commemorative session of Parliament, Kanshi Ram asserted that abolishing untouchability was never on Gandhiji's agenda. Not one person stood up to contradict him... more

 

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"Rational vs. National," screams the headline of the new pall-bearer of secularism, the magazine Outlook. "Tampering with history," proclaims the old pall- bearer, The Hindu. Having been educated by The Hindu that the "nodal ministry" for the matter is the Ministry of Human Resource Development, I ring up the Secretary of that Ministry. Has the Memorandum of Association of the ICHR been changed?, I ask. No, he says. It has not been changed, he says... more

 

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Answer by the Ministry for Human Resources Development to Unstarred Question number 3466 in the Rajya Sabha : "Professor Bipin Chandra was sanctioned a sum of Rs. 75,000/- during 1987-88 for the assignment entitled 'A History of Indian National Congress'. A sum of Rs. 57,500/- has been released to him till 23.6.1989. The remaining balance of Rs. 17,500/- is yet to be released because a formal manuscript in this regard is yet to be received... more

 

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As we have seen, the explicit part of the Circular issued by the West Bengal Government in 1989 in effect was that there must be no negative reference to Islamic rule in India. Although these were the very things which contemporary Islamic writers celebrated, there must be absolutely no reference to the destruction of the temples by Muslim rulers, to the forcible conversion of Hindus, to the numerous other restrictions which were placed on the Hindu population... more

 

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Writes Tasneem Ahmad, "I express my profound sense of gratitude, very personal regards and respects to Professor Irfan Habib, who encouraged and guided me at every stage of the work. In spite of his very pressing engagements and pre-occupation, he ungrudgingly spared his valuable time to examine with care every intricate problem, arising out [sic.] during the course of work." When the entire manuscript has been lifted word for word from the work of Dr. Parmatma Saran... more

 

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The pattern of these textbooks thus is set in stone : concoct a picture of pre-Islamic society of Indian history as a period riddled by discord, tensions, inequity and oppression -- evidence or no evidence; on the other side, concoct a picture of the Islamic period as one in which a "composite culture" flowered, one in which, in spite of the errors of few who acted out of normal, non-religious motives, there was peace and harmony -- evidence or no evidence... more

 

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Arun Shourie is not a historian. He is a mythologist of Hindu communalism. He is a political pornographer," declared one of these eminent historians, K N Panikkar, in Kerala the other day. He had been asked for an answer to the facts I had set out in Eminent Historians. And he was giving reasons why it was beneath his dignity to give one... more

 

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Namboodiripas' fusillade was just the opening salvo, it turned out. The Communist Party of India published a series of pamphlets - Arun Shourie's Slanders Rebutted History has indicated the Communists, 1942 August Struggle and the Communist Party of India... Translated into several languages, these were distributed far and wide. Today, they are prophylactics anyone who reads them will be immunised against the abuse of these 'leading intellectuals' and their parties... more

 

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"You have said that this is a historic visit, that this is a defining moment in the history of South Asia, but what is the substance in these declarations?," asked the correspondent at the joint press conference of the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers in Lahore -- the usual European or American correspondent, with the usual condescension and derision... more

 

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"Why do you keep doing this?", I keep asking. Another press conference has been held, another statement reprimanding Government has been issued, another "massive demonstration" protesting against the Government's "failure to extricate India from the clutches of the WTO" has been announced. The difference is that in the public eye the organizations for which they speak, issue statements, announce morchas and the rest, are part of the same parivar as the Government... more

 

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Hostilities have but to commence and a rash of strategists erupts: indeed, it seems that everyone, except the ones actually running it, knows how to run the war. Just as suddenly, intelligence agencies start planting stories: every agency, it seems, knew what was going to happen, every agency sent warnings, but every other agency scuppered its reports; every paper, every commentator suddenly seems to know what which top-secret agency has told Government... more

 

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To attribute the occupation by Pakistanis of such extended stretches in Kargil to "an intelligence failure" is too facile. It is an evasion -- an evasion of the basic cause, an evasion of responsibility... more

 

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"India has massacred 60,000 Kashmiris, but the people of Kashmir will never rest till they have won freedom;" "India has deployed 700,000 soldiers in the Valley, and yet the Kashmiri mujahidin are inflicting heavy losses on them every day;" -- such "facts" are repeated ad nauseum in Pakistani papers. We tend to dismiss such assertions as the usual lies. Public Opinion Trends, are so inured to these concoctions that they excise them from their reports! In fact, the concoctions deserve attention... more

 

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"The secret of success is sincerity," reads The Cynic's Lexicon, "Once you can fake that, you've got it made." How hard Sonia Gandhi is trying to reach success by that route. A flood in Assam? Visit the area. Have yourself photographed. Pronounce: Government's relief measures are wholly inadequate. An earthquake in Kumaon? Visit the area. Have yourself photographed. Pronounce: Government's relief measures are wholly inadequate. Cyclone somewhere? Visit the area. Have yourself photographed. Pronounce: Government's relief measures are wholly inadequate. Fighting in Kargil? Visit hospitals at a safe distance. Have yourself photographed with injured soldiers. Pronounce... more

 

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The war in Kargil has ignited an intense reaction across the country. War does. War that results from aggression by the other does even more. This time round two factors have caused the reaction to be even more intense. There is the element of betrayal: India had extended the hand of trust and friendship; Pakistan, it now turns out, merely pretended to reciprocate. And then there is the effect of television. This is the first war which has been brought into our living rooms: we see the extreme conditions in which our soldiers are defending our country, we see the majesty and beauty of our sacred mountains which the enemy has violated, we see the bodies arrive, we see and hear the valour of the bereaved parents and wives... more

 

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Aap log jis jazbe aur walwalese Jihad karten hain, vo Bharati kutton, muaf kijiye, faujiyon ko apni bandookein uthane ka mauka bhi nahin milta''- the passion and fervour with which you wage Jihad does not leave the opportunity for these Bharati dogs, pardon us, these Bharati militarymen to even pick up their rifles. ''Agar aap isi tareh Bharati faujiyon ko makhi macchar ki tareh jahanum ki vaadiyon mein dhakelte rahe, to ankareeb Bharat ka koi bhi kutta muazarat fauji Kashmir ka rukh nahin karega''- if you continue to push them into hell in this way, like flies and mosquitoes, no Indian dog, begging you pardon, no Indian militaryman will dare look towards Kashmir... Serious analysis in Khabarein, a leading paper of Lahore, of 10 July, 1999...  more

 

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"Congress insists PM ignored I-B reports on Kargil," ran the six column heading of The Indian Express on 16 September. Other papers too gave much prominence to the allegation. This time the Congress spokesman had used as his peg a front-page story in The Tribune of that morning about a "strategy backgrounder" which the paper said the Army had prepared and circulated... more

 

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"Not one paisa has been taken from the Trust," declared the Congress spokesman with a show of righteous indignation. He was declaiming on the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. But the charge had been altogether different -- that the Trust had been a Government-trust, that it had received Rs. 134 crores of Government money and 23 acres of invaluable land, that it had been converted into a private Trust by fraud, that the conversion had been sanctified by collusion between a trustee and the President of the Trust, Sonia Gandhi. Not one of these facts had been disputed by the Congress... more

 

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As Mr I K Gujral proceeded with his "Gujral Doctrine," a friend in RAW said, "He will rue it by September." As we returned from Lahore, he said, "When Pakistan goes so far out to seem friendly, it is planning something big." As Nawaz Sharif kept bringing one institution after another under his heel -- he enacted a version of our anti-defection law which made legislators his bonded men: they stand disqualified the moment they defy the party whip on any matter; he had the President resign; he removed the Chief Justice; he did away with the Council for Defence and National Security thereby curtailing the Army's role; he put a pious cipher into the presidency -- my friend said, "He will go on rushing forward till he bangs his head into a brick wall. It is his nature... more

 

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From our experience over the last 20 years the following emerge as self-evident axioms. The technology of inflicting large-scale violence is becoming easier to obtain, and - per quotient of lethality - less and less expensive. This in turn yields three lemmas. The target country has to be equipped to counter the entire spectrum of violence: to take the current examples from the United States-from aircraft being used as missiles to anthrax; It is almost impossible in an open society to block a determined lot from acquiring the technology they want by blocking the technology itself-the only practical way is to be a leap ahead of the technology the terrorist acquires... more

 

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'A State that's patronising terrorists should wake up to the consequences; in any case its immediate neighbours must'. Corresponding to the four ''don'ts'' are six ''do's'': Believe what the ideologues and organisations of the terrorists say. The one thing for which ideologues and organisations can be credited is that they are absolutely explicit about their aims and objectives. The fault - the fatal fault - is that of liberal societies: to this day they continue to shut their eyes to what these organisations proclaim to be their aim: domination, conquest, conversion of the ''land of war'' into the ''land of peace,'' that is the land which is at peace because it is under their heel - exactly as they had shut their eyes to Hitler in the 1930s and to Stalin later. Read their press, reflect over their books and pamphlets, and act in time - that is, before they have wreaked the havoc they proclaim they will... more

 

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What is the VHP? Whom does it represent? What is its locus standi?, the Supreme Court asked the other day - and it seemed to have done so in a tone that triggered much delight among secularists. The Bench did not ask, as the Constitution Bench had not asked, ''Who is Mohammed Aslam, alias 'Bhure'? Whom does he represent? What is his locus standi?'' It did not ask, ''What is the Babri Masjid Action Committee? Whom does it represent? What is its locus standi?'' It did not ask, ''What is the 'All India Muslim Law Board'? Whom does it represent? What is its locus standi?'' How is it that doubt assailed it only in regard to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad? ... more

 

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In the sense American intellectual activity has been built on foundations. Agar aap koi bhi ek American scholar ko dekhen, he is one of the great psychologists today. They work the most on the physiology of the mind on consciousness. If you read any book of his, in its first five pages aap yeh dekhiye ki woh kin-kin ko acknowledge karte hain. The unknown foundations and it has been one of the great omissions of the Indian tax system that we have not allowed, not made it profitable for business houses and other people to set up foundations for intellectual activity. I also feel in the sense that we underestimate, what Ramswarup Ji used to call, the seed value of ideas... more

 

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"Now, Sir," the member said, "we have inherited a tradition. People always keep saying to me : 'Oh, you are the maker of the Constitution. 'My answer is I was a hack. What I was asked to do, I did much against my will." He ridiculed the "notions of democracy" the country had acquired because of its hatred of the British, like the notion that to leave any discretionary powers with the Governor is undemocratic. "We have inherited the idea that the Governor must have no power at all, that he must be a rubber-stamp," the member explained. "If a minister, however scoundrelly he may be, if he puts up a proposal before the Governor, he has to ditto it. That is the kind of conception about democracy which we have developed in this country," he continued. The member? B.R. Ambedkar, of course. The occasion ? The debate in the Council of States, as the Rajya Sabha was then known, on 2 September, 1953, regarding the Bill for establishing the state of Andhra... more

 

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For a year and a half you keep issuing statements to the press, and writing ostensibly scholarly articles, and holding forth in interviews that the Babri Mosque was not, most definitely not, built by demolishing or even on a site of a temple. Documents of the other side are sent to you. You are nominated by the All India Babri Mosque Action Committee as an expert who will give his assessment of them. A meeting is scheduled. Before that you meet the then Director General of Archeology who had supervised the excavations at the site. The day the meeting is to begin the newspapers carry yet another categorical statement from "intellectuals", again asserting the line convenient to the AIBMAC. You, of course, are among them... more

 

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"This is an old charge which keeps surfacing now and then," wrote one of those "eminent historians", K. N. Panikkar, in an vituperative response to an article of mine - - the charge that close to two crores had been spent on the "Towards Freedom" project of the Indian Council of Historical Project, and little had been achieved. "About a year back the historians had then clarified through a public statement, that they have not drawn any money from the ICHR and that they worked for five years purely in an honorary capacity. When he gets the information, I would normally expect Shourie to tender a public apology. But given the intellectual honesty and cultural level reflected in his article, I do not think it would be forthcoming. The alternative of suing for defamation the likes of Shourie is below one's dignity. But I do expect at least the ministry to make a public statement. Strong stuff, and definitive, one would think. It turns out that on 17 July, 1998, in answer to a question tabled in the Rajya Sabha, the Ministry stated that only one part of the project has been completed and published since the original volume of Dr. P. N. Chopra. This is the volume -- in three parts -- by Dr. Partha Sarthi Gupta covering 1943-44. In answer to another question, the Ministry has reported that "After publication of the Volume he was paid an honorarium of Rs. 25,000/- in September, 1997." ... more

 

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"We must at present do our best to form a class," Macaulay wrote in his famous Minute of 1835, "who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indians in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect."... more

 

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The US campaign of bombing erstwhile Taliban positions in Afghanistan had not been on for 10 days, and our experts began pronouncing it a failure: "Osama bin Laden is still at large, the Taliban have just dispersed into the hills, the Northern Alliance is stuck where it was, Bush's Grand Alliance is coming apart... The winter is about to set in," they said. "The Afghan is a hardy fighter, they said. He will just tie an onion and a roti (bread), fling his blanket over his shoulder, and disappear into the nearest mountain; and these American GIs - they cannot fight without their Coca Colas, their hot meals... Just look at them on TV - they are loaded with so much equipment, they have difficulty just walking. These jokers are going to fight the Taliban? Secure on the mountaintop, the Taliban Jehadi will pick them one by one as they try to clamber up the mountain. Remember Kargil? These slopes in the Afghan mountains are even steeper than the ones our soldiers had to scale."... more

 

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"Zee News at 9.40 p.m. on Saturday (August 21) showed clipping of Vajpayee addressing an election rally at Thiruvananthapuram," declared the spokesman of the Congress (I) in a written statement on 24 August. "He declared that the building of Ram Mandir, abrogation of Article 370 and bringing in the uniform civil code were an intrinsic part of the BJP's manifesto." In fact, Vajpayee had addressed no public meeting at Thiruvananthapuram at all. But hardly one to be deterred by facts, the Congress (I) went on to describe Vajpayee as "a habitual liar," as one who was making a "completely ridiculous" statement when he expressed surprise at what Govindacharya, a General Secretary of the BJP was reported to have said... more

 

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"There can be no doubt that the fall of Buddhism in India was due to the invasions of the Musalmans," writes the author. "Islam came out as the enemy of the 'But'. The word 'But,' as everybody knows, is an Arabic word and means an idol. Not many people, however, know that the derivation of the word 'But' is the Arabic corruption of Buddha. Thus the origin of the word indicates that in the Moslem mind idol worship had come to be identified with the Religion of the Buddha. To the Muslims, they were one and the same thing. The mission to break the idols thus became the mission to destroy Buddhism. Islam destroyed Buddhism not only in India but wherever it went." The writer? B. R. Ambedkar. But today the fashion is to ascribe the extinction of Buddhism to the persecution of Buddhists by Hindus, to the destruction of their temples by the Hindus. One point is that the Marxist historians who have been perpetrating this falsehood have not been able to produce even an iota of evidence to substantiate the concoction... more

 

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The first thing that strikes one upon reading the books of these eminent historians, of course, is the double standard. Recall how, without an iota of evidence, our eminent historians advanced the most far-reaching assertions about ancient India -- about its having been a period riddled with tensions, inequity and oppression. And how, in cases such as Aurangzeb and the Sultanate, these very historians shut their eyes to what stares them in the face. In a word, their approach is set to a formula : pre-Islamic India must be presented as a land of discord, a land in the grip of a social and political system marked by injustice, extreme inequities and oppression; and the Islamic period must be presented as a period in which "the composite culture" flowered, a period in which the norm was a policy of "broad toleration"... more


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