Thursday, September 29th, 2022 22:49:58

Is Indian civilization a gift of Britain?

Updated: September 15, 2022 5:07 pm

Well, it is often seen that Western opinion shapers frequently view world history through the lens of the colonizer. Hence, they frequently have an incorrect understanding of world history. They cling to the idea that colonial and imperialist rule substantially benefited the colonised people by introducing them to “civilization” and providing them with the blessings of the industrial revolution. One such person is Fox News host Tucker Carlson. He thinks India’s civilization is only a little over three centuries old and was a gift from Britain to India when it departed in 1947 rather than it is thousands of years old.

Carlson said: “When the U.S. government withdrew from Afghanistan after 20 years, we left behind airstrips, shipping containers and guns. When the British pulled out of India, they left behind an entire civilization, a language, a legal system, schools, churches and public buildings, all of which are still in use today. Here’s the train station the English built in Bombay, for example. There’s nothing like that in Washington, DC right now, much less in Kabul or Baghdad.”

After this, netizens and fact checkers have showed him his place. In fact, they showered his twitter with images of marvels of Indian architecture made after Independence including the Lotus Temple in Delhi, the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru, Prem Mandir in Vrindavan, Somnath temple, Auroville Dome in Puducherry, and many more. The recently built ‘Statute of Unity’ speaks volumes of infrastructural strides made by India in the years since its independence. The comment was so distasteful that even Congress leader Shashi Tharoor lost his cool.

While many have proved wrong Carlsons misconceptions about India, surprising was the support he got from some Indians. This colonial mind-set among some angelised Indians is the most detrimental to our glorious past. And this mind-set is a product of the European and a “Hindu by Mistake” Nehru. It was he who must be held responsible for the Western world’s dimwit view about India. The past was dismissed and seen hastily by Nehru as a hindrance to India’s efforts to advance and modernise. In this way, he was a by-product of colonial prejudice and, like so many other members of the anglicised elite, had internalised the overt but purposeful contempt for Indian culture, and in particular Hindu civilisation. ‘India must break with much of her past and not allow it to dominate the present,’ he wrote in his book titled, ironically enough, The Discovery of India.

This mindset of the most significant person in charge during the early years of independent India made the rehabilitation of the wisdoms and refinements of ancient India and Hindu culture a victim. In the anglicised class, he had sympathisers, especially in the bureaucracy. The Indian Administrative Service, which superseded the Indian Civil Service with little to no change in the qualifications required, was established by the British and allowed Indians to apply as long as they set an example for the type of “intelligent” locals who could serve the Empire. The entrenched elite members had a personal stake in maintaining the outdated systems that they ruled. Lip service was paid to India’s glorious past, but little was done to integrate it with the national policy.

After Independence, schools and universities maintained colonial-style curricula for many years. As a result, Raja Raja Chola-I and Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara dynasty were barely mentioned in our history books, and no effort was made to concentrate on the political wisdom of Kautilya’s Arthashastra or the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata. The majority of British academics continued to write textbooks on Indian history. The prominence of rulers like Maharana Pratap and Shivaji was diminished. There was a persistent worry that history lessons may become overly “communal” if they focused too much on how Hindu leaders opposed Muslim rule.

This has continued unabashedly for the last six decades and in turn made Hindus a second class citizen despite being a majority.

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