Can the new Samajwadi perfume wipe away communal hatred being spread by right-wing?

It's a refreshing idea to launch a perfume in these dark times, but can all the perfumes of Kannauj contain the cries of communal hatred and the aftermath unleashed from various quarters of the State?

Can the new Samajwadi perfume wipe away communal hatred being spread by right-wing?

Humra Quraishi

Can the Samajwadis be so utterly naïve to think that their recently launched, Samajwadi Perfume will be potent enough to wipe away the communal hatred being spread around by the combined forces of the Right-Wing!

No doubt, it's a refreshing idea to launch a perfume in these dark times, but can all the perfumes of Kannauj contain the cries of communal hatred and the aftermath unleashed from the various quarters of the State?

Let us not delude ourselves. Let us not comfort ourselves with the notion that sensitivity still prevails. Today, polluted lies the entire expanse. If the political pollution wasn’t hitting enough, the climatic and communal pollution is more than lethal. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say loud and clear that we Indians are surviving amid not just the climatic disturbances but also amid the toxic communal pollution caused by the fascist forces.

With Agra very recently declared as one of the most polluted cities, I have been sitting wondering how traumatized must be the very soul of the long-departed Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. He built the monumental wonder, the Taj Mahal, with such intensity for his love; perhaps, little realizing that one day severe levels of pollution would be enveloping Agra, the city where stands the Taj Mahal.

In fact, the apparent bias or aversion of the present government of Uttar Pradesh for the Mughals and their monumental wonders was more than apparent, when the annual budget for 2017-2018 made no mention of Taj Mahal in the section ‘Hamari Sanskritik Virasat’ (Our Cultural Heritage) incorporated in the finance minister’s 63-page speech. This is the attitude of the state government for the upkeep of the Taj Mahal! Not to overlook the fact that the Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site that draws thousands of tourists and earns crores in terms of revenue for the government.

In fact, on previous occasions, Right Wing rulers had publicly commented that the Taj Mahal, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, did not reflect India’s ancient culture. Also, they made it amply clear that no replicas of the Taj Mahal would be presented to the foreign dignitaries visiting Uttar Pradesh; instead, copies of the Hindu scriptures would be presented to them.

Right-Wing's Blatant Dislike for the Mughals

Over four summers back, when the BJP-led government was in power in Rajasthan, news reports had stated that students in Rajasthan were to be taught incorrect and twisted versions of historical facts: Maharana Pratap defeated the army of Mughal Emperor Akbar in the Battle of Haldighati some 450 years ago!

It is of course factually incorrect. To quote historians on this: “This is historically incorrect as historical evidence shows that Maharana Pratap, ruler of the Mewar region, had fled the battlefield, although in the later years he continued his guerilla war against the Mughals.”

In fact, the Right-Wing government’s dislike for the Mughals can be also judged from the fact that during the then BJP government, not just the very title ‘Great’ was removed from Mughal Emperor Akbar’s name, but also the relevant focus on him from the textbooks taught in the state of Rajasthan.

And the then BJP-led government in Rajasthan had even renamed the Ajmer Fort — from ‘Akbar Ka Qila’ to “Ajmer ka Qila and Sangrahalaya'. No expert committee of historians and academics was involved in the decision. Just by the order of the then Rajasthan education minister, Vasudev Devnani, the name of this historical fort was changed!

Mind you, this fort, built by Akbar in 1570 was left untouched even during the rule of the Rathors, Marathas and the British. The original name of the Ajmer Fort was legally sanctioned by a Gazette notification in December 1968. It was named as ‘Akbar ka Qila’ or ‘Daulat Khana’ and this name continued till, of course, Right-Wing came centre-stage.

And the Maharashtra government under the earlier BJP rule had almost near-defaced the names of Muslim rulers from its history textbooks. There were plans to omit from the textbooks, vital details to the Delhi Sultanate and the Suri Empire in India without realising that without those, the very history of India would be incomplete, if not riddled with gaps.

As a commentator put across, “Without a focus on the Bijapur Sultanate, Aurangzeb's rise to power over other contenders to the throne and the invasion by Ahmed Shah Durani, cannot be put in the historical context. Also, one cannot bypass other vital historical facts — In the third battle of Panipat, where the Marathas were defeated by the Durani Empire of Afghanistan, the Marathas sided with Shah Alam II (Shah Alam II was only a puppet under the Marathas) and then led an army to punish the Afghans for their atrocities in 1772. They attacked the fort of Pathargarh and forced the Rohilla Afghans to pay a huge war indemnity… Muslim rulers hold out much in terms of the historical past. And it would be a folly if not unethical to cut or omit or trim or distort historical facts.”

And the RSS-affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, headed by Dina Nath Batra, sent a list of recommendations to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) demanding a host of changes in its textbooks. Amongst other changes, Batra had also wanted references to the Mughal Emperors as “benevolent” to be removed!

14 November: On Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's Birthday

I can’t ever erase memories of that particular day when we were sitting in the living room of my grandparent’s ancestral kothi in Shahjahanpur. The radio was on and suddenly I saw my maternal grandmother, Amna Rahman, cry out in deep anguish when she heard the news of the passing away of the then Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

I was too young to comprehend the connection between her tears and Nehru's death, but to this day I recall her words along with the strain that Nehru was a saviour of the masses of our country. And much later, she had explained to us that in a democracy it’s not important to have a leader from a minority or majority community but a person the entire society could respect and look up to…someone who could take care of the masses, without discriminating along with the religious or regional formats.

‘Panditji’, as Jawaharlal Nehru was popularly called, stood for democratic values, for the rights and dignity of the minorities and the disadvantaged. Yes, communal attacks did take place even in those years, but they were controlled and there was that guarantee that justice would prevail. He was looked upon as a saviour. That feeling of security was intact because he was himself secular. I’m certain if Nehru was around, it would have been impossible for the Right-Wing brigades to have destroyed the Babri Masjid or for the Gujarat and Delhi pogroms to have taken place, or for the Hindutva men to be ruling.

Nehru was a statesman who built our country’s institutions and infrastructure that paved way for development to take off in the actual sense of the term. Also stands out the fact that Nehru was a leader of the masses. He was respected and loved in our country, and also worldwide. In fact, Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision and policies vis-a-vis West Asia made the Arab countries tilt towards India. He was firm and clear on his stand on Palestine, and that made the Arabs strong allies of India. … I recall the receptions hosted by the Iraqi envoys in that sprawling bungalow on New Delhi’s Prithvi Raj Road, which was gifted in the 1950s, by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to the first Iraqi envoy posted to India.

In fact, whenever the Arab commentators and academics spoke about India, they would make sure to detail the genuine bonding of the Arab people with the Indian masses. This bonding was because of the connection established by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

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