The problem that has plagued history writing in India is that Marxist historians have always used it as a tool to expand their ideology and to destroy the flame of nationalism in the country in the name of “proletarian internationalism”. They grafted the Leninist theory of nationalities onto the Indian context and supported all sub-national and anti-national activities, including Jinnah’s demand for creation of an Islamic republic.
Although it cannot be categorized as a history book, Saffron, White and Green: An Amazing Story of India’s Independence , written by Subhadra Sen Gupta, is full of factual inaccuracies, Marxist propaganda stuff, half-truths and lies. This book is prescribed for students of the Eighth standard for general reading. A cursory reading of the book will tell you that the author is agenda-driven and has not done her research properly. It will not be proper for schools and educationists to impose such biased, poorly written books on young and impressionable minds.
Sen Gupta writes glowingly about the contribution of some great British ‘men who loved India’. But she fails to reveal the real agenda behind their academic pursuits and actions. She tells us how some of them had salvaged Sanskrit from the hands of wily Brahmins, who used exclusivity of knowledge as a source power. For instance, William Jones studied Sanskrit and translated Kalidasa’s Shakunthalam. “…Then Jones became curious about the age of Indian civilization, but he needed a date that he could match with events in Europe.” In fact, those who have studied William Jones closely say that while fixing antiquity of the Indian civilization he force-fitted evidence to suit the chronological events in the Bible. Therefore, his motivations were not saintly. On the other hand, he wanted to establish intellectual superiority of the West over India. For, in the 19th Century, “such a deep-rooted conviction of Christianity’s superiority to Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism was the norm among Orientalists and European Sanskritists”. (Breaking India by Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan)
Another personage about whom Sen Gupta waxes eloquent is Sir Alexander Cunningham, the founder of Archeological Survey of India. It is true that his tireless work produced an inventory of India’s monuments; he is also remembered for his pioneering Ancient Geography of India. According to famous author Michel Danino, Cunningham’s “motives were not wholly disinterested”. By excavating India’s past, among other things, Cunningham hoped to “show that Brahmanism …was of comparatively modern origin, and had been constantly receiving additions and alterations; facts which prove that the establishment of the Christian religion in India must ultimately succeed.” (A Cunningham, An Account of the Discovery of the Ruins of the Buddhist City of Samkassa, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1843, pp 241-47.)
Sen Gupta betrays her slavish mentality towards our erstwhile colonial masters when she writes: “The English taught us to respect and preserve our heritage….From monuments to literature, painting, sculpture, music and dance, we can enjoy these today and be proud of our wonderful, many-hued cultural heritage because of these stubborn, passionate Englishmen who fell in love with India.” (p 29-30)
There is a subtle move by the author to give an impression that all revolutionaries were inspired by Communism. “The government, deeply fearful of the growth of communism, came down on the revolutionaries with fierce efficiency, matching their acts of terrorism with overwhelming violence.” Not only the British, even Congress leaders like Gandhiji and revolutionaries like Arabinda Ghose were suspicious of the Communists. However, she doesn’t say a word about the dubious role played by Communists during the Quit India Movement and Partition. The author places all the blame of Partition at the doorsteps of the Muslim League, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. According to her, Congress leaders, including Pt Nehru, had no role at all whatsoever.
“The Muslim League was a party of rich landowners who disliked the Congress because it wanted land reforms in favour of peasants. …Similarly, the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS supported the Hindu upper castes. Unlike the Congress, these communal parties were not interested in social or economic reforms. Instead they concentrated on protecting the interests of their own groups – the upper class Muslims or the Hindu. So such issues as the caste system, education, the emancipation of women or fighting poverty were never on their agenda. …..by the 1940s the propaganda of the Hindu communal parties had created such an atmosphere of insecurity among Muslims that they felt they would suffer at the hands of Hindus, who were in a majority.”
It seems the author doesn’t know that the RSS always opposed the Partition of India. One of the guiding principles of the Sangh is “Akhand Bharat”.
But one political party that wholeheartedly supported Jinnah’s Two-Nation theory was the Communist Party of India. A person none other than EMS Namboodiripad had admitted the “mistake committed by the Communists” in his book A History of Indian Freedom Struggle. EMS writes: “For one thing, the Communists had been campaigning in those days in such a situation as would have helped, at least indirectly, the argument of Jinnah that the Hindus and Muslims were two nations. The Party did not endeavor to expose sufficiently forcefully and uncompromisingly the League stand that borders between two countries should be determined on the basis of religion. This enabled the opponents of the Party to make propaganda that it helped the demand of the League for Pakistan and the subsequent partition of India.” (p 470)
Historians have noted that the Communists had not only provided ideological and logistical support to Jinnah’s demand for Pakistan, but also gave physical training to Muslim League cadres for taking on the Congress. The Communists also supported the British and tried to sabotage the Quit India Movement. On the role of Communists in the Freedom Struggle, EMS writes in The Frontline Years: “…we did commit the serious mistake of denouncing the leaders and participants in the Quit India struggle as ‘agents of world fascism and Japanese militarism’. (p 41) But the author seems to have deliberately omitted these crucial facts of history.
Although courts have exonerated RSS in the Gandhiji assassination case, the author makes a clever attempt to link the Sangh with the case. “On 30 January 1948, he (Gandhiji) left his room leaning on his two ‘walking sticks’, his gran-nieces Abha and Manu, to walk to the prayer meeting in the lawns. A man wearing khaki broke through the surging crowds, bent down as if to touch his feet, and then raised a revolver and shot him thrice in the chest. Nathuram Godse, a RSS sympathizer and Hindu bigot, thought he was killing a man who favoured Muslims over Hindus. What Godse did was silence the voice that could have taught India to live in religious harmony in the future.” (Saffron, White and Green, p 155)