Saturday, July 12, 2014

After August 15th

We have all studied history at primary levels at least.

Oh no. You don't get to yawn and leave today. Today is the day I have decided to write - after 3 months- So , Please read me out . 
Everybody seems to hate history and me being an exception to this rule, hates the current state of affairs very much. So much, that I started questioning some haters why they hate the topic so much. One of the standard responses is that why should we care about something which happened so long back? England is not ruling us anymore and we're even beating them in cricket now :P
While I can go on an on about how past experiences are invaluable to current scenarios , how history tends to repeat itself and how the mere fact that the area I was born in or the wooden table I am using is so soaked in history that I often can't help but get intoxicated with the romanticism of it all or how there are so many different civilizations which had so much in common and difference , I am not going to.
In this post we're going to address the problem of modern history. Modern history? That word sounds very oxymoronish to be true.
One of the major problem with our education system of history in India is that there seems to be a total disconnect from what we study and what we see today.  While it is pretty cool that Mahatma Gandhi walked miles to collect salt from the British and that we stunk of socialism in the independence era , nothing seems to correlate with what we see today.
The freedom fighting politicians of the yore seem to be substituted by blatantly corrupt ones of today. While we read about socialism and Nehru everywhere , we hear more about FDI in retail and the far reaching tentacles of globalization and capitalism.
Indian history to us Indians seems to end with August 15 , 1947  when India achieved independence. The very few who elect political science for high school or college degree learn a ridiculously more amount about our country.
We're stuck in that moment
Isn't it time to acknowledge that what happened for the 68 years afterwards to be also included as history? Not an entire subject , that would be asking too much. But at least 2-3 chapters covering important topics like the Kashmir issue , language reorganization , 1991 liberalization reforms which certainly changed the history of the country.
If pundits are unwilling to label it as history then it is about time that we give importance to political science as a social science. I was literally flabbergasted when a very well learned friend of mine, who studies architecture currently, told me that she didn't know Pakistan and Bangladesh were the same country before 1970's . :O
And it gets worse. When i told others about her ignorance , I found more from unexpected quarters.
This problem rises in significance when we take the rate of change happening around us into consideration. Every decade sounds like a different era and with the rate of growth of population and science and technology being equally precariously scary , it is time we read history according to modern contexts.
India has stepped into a new era or believes it has stepped into a new era by electing Narendra Modi into power. This is the first time a non congress alliance has got such a huge mandate and we can be pretty sure that the lawmakers would want to 'rewrite' history soon enough. Citizens must be offered an unbiased version of the riots , partition and violence which has been plaguing the country.

Things to be added in a social science textbook :

  1. Partition - No point acting like it never happened. While independence was a huge victory , the partition was quite the opposite. The fact that Mahatma Gandhi never celebrated the independence is conveniently ignored. Some light on this hasty yet historic blunder would remove some prejudice we carry about our Pakistani neighbors. Both sides suffered . Sick of all the pakistani hate posts. Half the people don't know why/who/how we got separated but carry the hate though :/ 
  2. Kashmir - Before yelling that article 370 is unconstitutional Indians must be taught ( unbiased ly ) how  really Kashmir was created. While demanding that Kashmir be ours is truly patriotic , learning what exactly happened before harping ill informed propagandized news is truly more worthwhile and patriotic . 
    Too beautiful to suffer :(
  3. Hindi - There surely must be a lesson on the reorganization of states according to languages , the tensions and unity it created. The language politics , the true current status of hindi - the official and not the national language of India. 
A crash course on this would really enlighten many of us on current issues . Unlike science , every person can have an opinion on social science topics and well informed chapters on current historic problems would at least brighten us enough to not sound like illiterate buffoons on social media . 

Thanking you for the patience if you did read me out
Samyuktha (Semi) Jayaprakash 

6 comments:

  1. Hahaha! Nice one. :P Every person can have an opinion, unlike science. So true.

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    1. thanks prerna :) just read your post. Loved it! bullseye.

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  2. Well written post. 'India after Gandhi' is a good book if you're interested in this period of Indian history. And it's gotten wildly popular in the past few years - probably an indication that many of our folks are realizing this hole in our education system. The subject of history itself needs to stop being about stupid memorization though, that's why we hardly ever find the charm and romanticism in it as students - we're busy being lost in the dozens and dozens of dates and names!

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    1. I'll surely check it out :D You can find the charm even there - if you are really looking for it :P Thanks for the comment sundar :)

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  3. Understandable. You unwittingly spoke the words of Ramachandra Guha! And ya, time did stop after 15th August 1947 -- for good. Because, independence was a definitive time period in all our lives. And, history post-independence should be a part of higher secondary and college syllabus because it involves just too many dynamics. For instance, to understand why India was not convincingly a NAM proponent (though it created NAM!) we must gobble the context of 1956 and understand the concept of Power camps and understand the dynamics between IND-USSR. So, good that time stopped in syllabus, but awareness is needed which cannot be done by voluntary participation.

    Psst. You can refer India after Independence by Bipin Chandra to satiate your thirst for post-independence history! :)

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