Farrukh Dhondy, official defender of the Naipaul faith. He shouldn’t bother when Naipaul summarises his own argument thus: “When the subject cropped up at last, Naipaul kept his cool. Dalrymple’s evidence of cultural hybridisation was shaky, tendentious; clearly it had been influenced by left-wing academics. The Moguls systematically destroyed Hindu culture. The fact that a few monuments survived, that there was some mingling of architectural styles, one of Dalrymple’s principal points, is neither here nor there. It’s like saying that the Nazis left some things intact in occupied France.” This is such a gross misreading of Indian history that it would be barely worth rebutting–if it weren’t for the fact that you don’t expect a Nobel laureate to produce such a half-baked perspective.

There’s an interesting article in Himal on the historian Romila Thapar: while it covers a slightly different debate, this section is worth re-reading, in the light of Sir Vidia’s views.

“Professor Thapar has looked at a variety of cultural traditions in the making of ancient India. To the petitioners Indian past is monolithic, unified and unmistakably only Hindu. Those who disagree with this notion are accused of committing cultural genocide.

The fact is that Romila Thapar has been pointing out for more than three decades that the historical theories expounded by the Hindutva club are a jump backwards to the assumptions of 19th century colonial history.

In February 2003, in delivering the Athar Ali Memorial Lecture at Aligarh Muslim University, she elaborated on this theme again:

“The colonial interpretation was carefully developed through the nineteenth century. By 1823, the History of British India written by James Mill was available and widely read. This was the hegemonic text in which Mill periodised Indian history into three periods – Hindu civilisation, Muslim civilisation and the British period. These were accepted largely without question and we have lived with this periodisation for almost two hundred years. … Mill argued that the Hindu civilisation was stagnant and backward, the Muslim only marginally better and the British colonial power was an agency of progress because it could legislate change for improvement in India. In the Hindutva version this periodisation remains, only the colours have changed: the Hindu period is the golden age, the Muslim period the black, dark age of tyranny and oppression, and the colonial period is a grey age almost of marginal importance compared to the earlier two.”

Naipaul’s version of history is almost exactly the same as the version Thapar calls “the Hindutva version”. He may have arrived at his reading of history by making a different journey, but the destination is the same.

Professor Thapar provides a more elaborate reading of Indian history here.





2 responses to “”

  1. Azygos Avatar

    Instead of parroting away marxist antinational propaganda, be original, read some primary sources, and stop pulling your veil of ignorance over netizens.

  2. Hurree Avatar

    That’s a 2004 post, Azygos; it took you three years to figure out that I was an unpatriotic Leftist pig?Tch.

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