India should stop fighting with its past. It should take the problems of the present head on and secure the future of its youth
The authoritarian right that controls the Indian polity today is obsessed with its history. Determined to establish its brand of Hindutva as supreme, it misses no chance to wrestle with what is mostly common knowledge and sets about pointlessly “rewriting” it. These forces refuse to come to terms with India’s collective past which, just as in the case of most other countries, is flawed — made up of invasions, caste slavery and religious obscurantism tempered by occasional moments of glory and advancement.
Today, India is a constitutional democracy seeking to dispense to its people justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. Its 1.41 billion people have a lot to achieve for its future generations with the nation still grappling with absolute poverty, income inequality, lack of access to education and growing unemployment. To top it all, India will soon become the most populated nation on earth.
Such a nation should stop fighting with its past. It should take the problems of the present head on and secure the future of its youth. And this was precisely what the Supreme Court said while rejecting a public interest litigation plea moved before it seeking a direction to the Union government to set up a commission to rename Indian cities that have a history of invasion.
The fact of the matter is that the government has not waited for a commission to rechristen cities; it has been on the job for quite some time, Aurangabad and Osmanabad in Maharashtra being the newest venues of its exertions. This, even while the court suggests that such attempts are fraught with danger. They would inevitably take society back to the past, keep controversies alive and put the nation on the boil. The bench of Justices K.M. Joseph and B.V. Nagarathna reminded the petitioner that a democratic secular republic cannot be held prisoner to its past by bringing in a certain view on history. There are enough issues of the present for us to address, it reminded the petitioner.
The court’s comments are meant for all those who believe fighting with history is a pious call. We hope that wisdom prevails on their mental processes.