ASIA/INDIA - Rewriting the history of India: a dangerous move for religious minorities

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Posted on: 03/18/18
New Delhi - The Hindu nationalist organizations are trying to rewrite the history of India: a dangerous move for religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims.
The ongoing effort is being promoted by the ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party and by well-known Hindu extremist groups Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Sangh Parivar. "This effort to 'saffronize history' is a blow to the secular and religious fabric of Indian society, and goes against the commitment of historians who have the noble task of presenting the truth without manipulation", notes in an interview with Agenzia Fides Verbite missionary Fr. Jesuraj Rayappan, SVD, professor of Church history at the "Khristo Jyoti Mohavidyaloyo" institute of Sambalpur in the Indian state of Orissa.
As reported by local sources, last week a team appointed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been working for six months to show that Hindus are the direct descendants of the first inhabitants of India and that the ancient Hindu scriptures are facts, not myths. The objective of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu nationalist groups is "to shape national identity to satisfy their religious opinions, and to legitimize the assumption that India is a nation of Hindus and for Hindus", say the historians.
Catholic professor Rayappan adds: "The saffron colour groups want to show the world that they are a majority and are the winners: it is said that history is written from the winners point of view. The English had given a multicultural narrative to the collective memory of our nation and that is the right way to present the facts. We hope that historians of nationalist groups like Sangh Parivar respect the truth that is inclusive and multicultural. The responsibility of a historian is to present truth without prejudice or manipulation, to help people understand reality".
Another Jesuit professor, Father Jerry Rosario, tells Fides: "Any story is written according to a certain perspective, in other words, no history is completely 'without prejudices'. History can be continuously enriched by new elements and new inputs to make it ever more complete and all-inclusive". But, notes Rosario, a civil lawyer and professor of theology, "never ever can a story be rewritten according to a hidden agenda, and according to an ideology corroded by a nauseating sense of exclusivism". The very fact that Narendra Modi appointed such a committee about six months ago, to redesign the ancient history of India, requires a reflection on all the conscious and mature citizens of India: it is urgent to protest against such irresponsible effort". The professor says he is ready to raise a public debate and also present, with other historians and scholars, an appeal to the Supreme Court of India as "the government has the constitutional obligation to preserve, promote ethnic, religious and cultural pluralism".


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