History writing: Need for a consensus

This has reference to Syed Nooruzzaman’s article “Controversy over history writing” (Perspective, July 18). He has taken a very practical view of the whole problem. Some time back, Dr Amrik Singh also exposed similar views in “Punjab Kesri”.

The writer has referred to the Central Asia Theory of Aryan advent to India in his article. I recently happened to see the textbook “History and Civics” (for Class VI of a public school). The blurb says, it has been written according to the “latest syllabus prescribed by the inter-state Board... and covers the latest syllabus of NCERT, according to the “New Education Policy”. Obviously, it was expected to be saffronised by the erstwhile NDA government.

To ensure empirical and non-prejudicial nature of history, experts entrusted with the task of removing the prejudicial portions from the history books meant for school students, should ensure, as the writer rightly opines, that the revised text does not reflect the views of any individual, or a few selected “experts’ or religious or political group but the “collective wisdom” of scholars through a consensual approach.

Being an experienced leader, statesman and an able administrator, Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh is accepted to keep all these aspects in mind. Otherwise, haste might lead to bigger waste by promoting social tensions and undermining the cause of purposeful education.





The article is apt and timely. There is an urgent need to rewrite Indian history in an objective and apolitical manner. Readers are baffled and confused. For, in the medley of voices, they cannot discern a clear note of certainty. They are bewildered by different interpretations of history by different political thinkers.

No doubt, the task of re-appraised of historical events is very difficult as it brings in its terrain the subjective element. The historical events, when viewed through the prism mind of the politician, take on different hues.

In my opinion, true history does not respect persons or communities; it should always strive to tell the truth, so far as it can be deduced from reliable evidence.

K.M. VASHISHT, New Delhi 

Ties need nurturing

Apropos of Aruti Nayar’s article, “Where love has gone”, (Spectrum, August 1), social mobility has become very important for many young people. According to sociologists, mobility has broken up collective ties and solidarity of families and had a disruptive impact on the structure of the primary group of relationships i.e. husband-wife, parent-child.

For most of us, comfort is happiness and wealth is success; relationship is a term for comfort, gratification and security. In that relationship, we use property, images and persons for our gratification. We have a relationship with the image and if that image is not in accordance with our pattern then we say, “He/she is not the right person”. It is because of this that we face conflicts in our relationships.

Human relationships need constant nurturing with love, affection, flexibility and respect. In essence, as a Greek saying has it, “Life is the gift of nature, but beautiful living is the gift of wisdom.

P. L. SETHI, Patiala

Double standards

Khushwant Singh in his write-up, “Eat, drink and be merry” (Saturday Extra, July 24) claims that he is an agnostic. “I reject theism as well as atheism,” he adds. In my view the columnist is a theist regarding his own religion and an atheist when it comes to others’ religions.

Khushwant Singh was so disturbed over the storming of the Golden Temple by the armed forces during Operation Bluestar that he even returned his Padma Shri in protest.

However, he does not mind making fun of other religions. For instance, he made derogatory remarks against Lord Krishna in a national daily a few years ago, which evoked protests. I hope he remembers it all.


Translating verse

This refers to Khushwant Singh’s write-up “Iqbal translated” (Saturday Extra, July 31). Although his rendering of Iqbal’s poem Haqeeqat-e-Husn is better than that of Kiernan. However, his translation of some lines is not correct.

Shab-e-daraaz-e-adam ka fasaana hai dunya means “the world is a tale of long night of nothingness” and not “ A tale told to pass the long night of eternity” as mentioned by him. Likewise, tasveer khaana means picture gallery not “hall of mirrors”.

He has translated the last couplet

Chaman sey rota hua mausam-e-bahaar gaya

Shabaab sair to aaya tha sogvaar gaya

as “Grief filled the garden in loud lament

Youth that had come to sport in sorrow went”.

My rendering is “Weeping, from the garden, spring season did go

Youth that had come to ramble went full of woe.”n

BHAGWAN Singh, Qadian

Book based on credible facts, not hearsay

I found Rajinder Puri’s review of my book "The World According to Washington: An Asian View" (Spectrum, Aug 8) puzzling. He first describes my condensation of US relations with Asia in barely 200 pages as “masterful”, and the scholarship “spectacular”, then proceeds to repeatedly fault the book, by making factually incorrect statements.

He says I overlooked the powerful transnational lobbies that overwhelm nations and governments, which is astonishing considering I give an entire chapter to “New Tools of Dominance: Economic Instruments of Global Strategy”.

He says there are two omissions in the book which are glaring: lack of mention of China’s help to North Korea during the Korean War, and the South Vietnamese President Diem’s assassination which prompted his sister-in-law to prophecy that “Kennedy will be killed next”.

After Truman ordered General MacArthur to overrun North Korea and take US forces up to the borders of China, what was China suppose to do?

The Chinese were not aggressors in North Korea, the Americans were. Even in 2003, fifty-two years after American troops first entered North Korea, 37,000 of them were still based there!

As for a South Vietnamese citizen’s prophecy about Kennedy’s death, my book is not based on prophecies and hearsay but on credible facts.

Patwant Singh, Chandigarh


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