Friday, Oct 07, 2022
Outlook.com
Review

History As A Triangle

Useful snatches of a historian's conversation with the past...

History As A Triangle
History As A Triangle
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Mushirul Hasan, professor of Modern Indian History at the Jamia Millia Islamia, has struck on an ingenious idea of writing a three-dimensional history of the period known as British rule in India, India's freedom struggle, independence of the country, its partition and its aftermath. He has made up a trio of close friends: a Hindu, a Muslim and a Sikh who meet periodically in Lucknow or Delhi and discuss different episodes in the history of India from the time Britishers started coming to India to the present time. They question each other, argue over answers given over long sessions sipping cups of tea and nibbling samosas. Most of the questions are put by the Hindu and the Sikh, most answers given by the Muslim who is evidently the author himself. Being a Lucknavi, he sprinkles his monologue with apt quotations from Urdu poets: Mir, Ghalib, Zafar, Hasrat Mohani, Akbar Illahabadi, Iqbal, Josh, Faiz and others. They all go in making up the story of John Company, down to its dissolution, and the setting up of the independent Republic of India.

Prof Hasan is an erudite scholar. Whatever he has to say is refreshingly new. Specially worth noting are his views on the formation of the Indian National Congress and how it changed from being an organisation of conservative Indians patronised by British rulers to a revolutionary one determined to kick them out of the country. Also the different shades of opinion ranging from those of the Hindu orthodoxy represented by leaders like Tilak, Malaviya, Lajpat Rai and Savarkar to those of mainstream nationalism represented by Tyabji, Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Maulana Azad, Dr Ansari and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. The divergence of opinion continued after independence between Nehru on the one side, and Sardar Patel on the other.

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