Fascist Shor Ghul


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Fascist Shor Ghul
Arun Shourie's attack on Indian historians is a
Hindutva attack on Composite Culture

Nalini Taneja

Arun Shourie’s journalistic writings on the left secular historians represent Hindutva’s attack on composite culture. They first appeared as columns in the Asian Age and were subsequently brought together and published by him in a book titled ‘Eminent Historians’. Nalini Taneja, who teaches history at the University of Delhi, reviews his controversial book.

It is always welcome when a professional social scientist makes an effort to put across the findings of his/her research in a popular form intelligible to a larger lay audience. The same does not hold true when a third rate ideologue of a communal political organisation decides to step into the shoes of a professional historian. Well known for misquoting, not providing pagination for the distortions he has brought into documents and quotes of others, he surpasses himself as he treads into new territory. One need only remember various responses to his attack on the Communists for their political stand in1942, his book on Ambedkar and his treatise on ‘Religion and Politics’ to realise that intellectual honesty is not the strong point of this most ardent follower of Goebbels. Arun Shourie, as in all other books that he has penned, throws reason, professional integrity, and facts into the dustbin as he publishes his own book on history and the secular historians of Indian history.

One may note that his Goebbelsian technique is directed only against those secular historians he sees as outstepping their limited territory of academic journals and monographs into the territory of text books and popular reading material . It is also clear why he sees them as threats to the world view he wishes to see as dominant in this country. After all history has today become a part of popular political discourse, due no doubt largely to the efforts of the Sangh Parivar.

The RSS view of history has had certain pervasiveness in the school system which has now spilled over into the streets. But despite this pervasiveness in the school system as a whole, it has not completely succeeded in its designs on the street, and the discourse remains a contested area whose outcome is by no means predetermined, the BJP government in power or not. This lack of unqualified success is primarily because, even given the events/incidences of heightened disharmony, it contradicts people’s own collective experience of shared heritage and every day life – a truth publicised only recently by the findings of the massive survey undertaken by the Anthropological Survey of India. While people may not be familiar with the results of the survey, and they may even contradict them in the absence of a conscious awareness of such facts, it nevertheless is integral to their experiential reality and lived cultural expression. And it is ultimately this truth that speaks through the books that Shourie has singled out for attack.

There is an affinity between what people experience as the sources of their identity and cultural expression and what secular historiography represents so vocally. There is even a greater affinity between what the left- secular historians see as the purpose of their historiography and the peoples’ own aspirations for freedom, equality and social justice. This is the real reason why Arun Shourie, who stands for a Hindu Rashtra and second class citizenship for the minorities and the lower castes, cannot stomach the left – secular historiography.

Objectively, the single most important purpose of Shourie’s book on these historians and their craft is to provide ideological justification for the attacks on the minorities which, even a cursory reading of the newspapers would tell us, constitutes the immediate agenda of the Sangh Parivar, and is ultimately their most well tried out strategy for undermining popular unity against casteism and economic oppression.

He does not speak, he rails against what he sees as historical wrongs against what he perceives as the Hindu community. There is no attempt to come to terms with or contend against the whole sea of evidence in the works of these scholars, or even other scholars not of the same political persuasion, in his hurry to repeat his charges of academic shallowness and a malafide rendering of Indian history which he accuses them of. Aware as he surely must be that he has picked up their school level texts, rather than their more full studies, where the possibility of providing full evidence for ones’ conclusions is not available, he accuses them of making statements that are not historically justified. It is, in fact, Shourie’s own method and intentions which are highly malafide and questionable.

His misquotations and deliberate misreading of the texts of DN. Jha and DD Kosambi have been exposed at length by Visva Mohan Jha in his review of the book in the Asian Age. The textbook on medieval India can hardly hope to win Shourie’s approval if it does not consider the Muslims as genetically prone to violence whose only duty in life is to destroy the Hindus. If in addition it sees some cultural advances in the centuries that are for him one unending saga of cruelty and conversion then at least Shourie is not one to give it his stamp of approval. Any one who has even the slightest familiarity with Bipan Chandra’s work, particularly with the very book Shourie is commenting on, would know that he could be considered a bit soft on the Congress, but by no stretch of imagination can he be accused of partiality towards the Muslim communalists. He is very critical of Jinnah and the Muslim League and clearly recognises the limitations of Saiyed Ahmed Khan and the Aligarh Movement.

About Shourie’s forays into the Towards Freedom project the less said the better. Even here he is relying on the unfamiliarity of the lay person with the nature of the work involved in the project, the sheer effort in collecting the material, the annotations and the notes, the actual processes in printing a volume of three thousand odd pages. Any number of times it has been clarified publicly that the costs involved are for the volumes as a whole, the research assistance required etc., and that the historians concerned have not individually received this money. But he nevertheless goes on relentlessly with his lies, quoting figures which pertain to specific project costs while he is talking of individual ‘gains’. It is the same with regard to his other contentions regarding the ICHR, many of which lie purely in the realm of fantasy. The fact sheet on the ICHR is sufficient to demolish his contention that the council has always been filled with historians of the Left, or that only their books have been selected for translations. As for his comment that historians like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Sumit Sarkar, KN Panikkar, Bipan Chandra and RS Sharma owe their stature to reviewing each others work is enough to make a laughing stock of him anywhere.

Obviously he has chosen his audience carefully. Nobody even remotely connected with the world of social sciences would waste their money on the book. But then again pitching one’s lies where they cannot be caught out and among people who have little means of verifying the facts or the expertise to challenge the documentation and its reading is the hallmark of all fascist propaganda, and a regular practice with Arun Shourie.

But what really needs to be underscored is the reason why he is forced again and again to resort to the time tested fascist method of appeal to unreason in order to present his critique of the secular historians, or why the strongest epithet that he can find to critique their academic work is to refer to them sarcastically as "their eminencies". It is not the first time that unreason has been used as an ideological tool to undermine the growing influence of political ideologies that challenge the system, or to provide answers for peoples discontent along lines that would divide rather than unite them in struggle.

He has systematically chosen his enemies--beginning with the Sikhs and the Bangladeshi refugees in the early 80’s to lend crescendo to the anti-Sikh riots and the massacres of the Muslims in Assam, justifying Nellie killings as well as state terrorism in Punjab--all in the name of democracy and order. The big book on the Quran was timed as accompaniment to the rising tempo of anti-Muslim propaganda and the rath yatra leading to the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the ensuing anti Muslim pogroms. The Christian Missionaries book marked the beginning of attacks on the Christian minorities, now reaching proportions that have compelled the Christian organisations to document and publicise the outrages. And one does not need much political acumen to know the reason for the latest attacks on Ambedkar and the secular left-oriented historians. Mr. Shourie we can see as well as we can that the most urgent need today of the democratic movement in this country is to somehow achieve a unity of the upsurge among the lower castes with the popular struggles against the economic policies of liberalisation and globalisation.

Today cynicism is pervasive to an extent where nothing succeeds in putting down one’s enemies faster than questioning their integrity. In a political ethos rampant with corruption, such vilification is the surest way of disarming one’s enemy and also rendering them friendless. It is also the surest way of killing any spark of hope that may remain to kindle a movement concerned with the larger interests of society. His is an age-old method used in all times by the political ideologues of his genre.

Violence is inherent in every thing ever written by him. Even at his sanctimonious best he cannot hide his hatred for what he does not uphold. He does not hate structures – it is the people who uphold those structures that he hates. He is quite comfortable with things as they exist provided they are not hindrances in the path to the Hindu Rashtra. Politicians are corrupt only to the extent that they oppose the Sangh Parivar and laws exist for him only to punish those who are not advocates of the Hindu Rashtra. He has presumably not heard of the attacks every other day on the Christians and the Muslims, immersed so deeply that he is in exploring the historical legacy of this country, and the Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sainiks are no doubt for him the greatest symbols of justice and democracy. He has even managed to write a book Elements of Fascism without encountering their likes!

The effect of his own writings when translated into street language and acted upon is of supreme unconcern to him as is the fact that those found guilty of inciting communal violence are sitting pretty as Home Minister and with other important state positions. In fact he has written this latest book precisely that it may find echo in newspapers like Jagran and Amar Ujala--which is exactly what is happening--whose editors and journalists would ultimately be held responsible by people analysing the role of the media in fanning communal tensions. Shourie himself after all this would, as always, look sanctimoniously in the air with a posture of pain--what can anybody do if the ‘truth’ hurts- literally.



Memory and Guilt
Muslim Rule
Historical Wrongs
Somanatha temple and Gazni
False Concept
The Indus and the Saraswati
Fascist Shor Ghul
In Defence of History
Are tribals hindu

HINDU ,Dalit, Muslims, INDIA , 

Fascism, Nazism, GenocidesHuman rights

Indian fascism :Intro,Myths, Organizations, Cultural Fascism,Babri Masjid, Bombay Riots , Role of Govt. 

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Last updated: October 29, 2000 .