WHAT THIS SITE IS ALL ABOUT
Historyandpedagogy is one part of my virtual and social media initiatives. The other is a facebook page called ‘Get Histerical’. Both are linked and connected to history and its pedagogy. In both I have been writing, sharing and discussing with few fascinating aspects of history’s epistemology, my experience of teaching history and several news features which brings out the ways in which not just politics but aspects of our daily life - food, arts, entertainment, sports, social relationships all are impinged by history.
Issues and challenges in conceptualizing history
However the latter is largely not realised and we see our present abstracted, unhinged from the socio-economic, cultural and political processes that shapes the world. And as these are processes,
i. they are not available discretely and since not perceived empirically, processes are less understood and largely misunderstood.
ii. further processes don't originate or operate merely in the here-and-now or in a vacuum and they have their genesis in past.
iii. dedicated time, efforts with adequate reading, personal observations and dialogue is needed to unravel these processes for their political, social and historic import. Thus history and disciplines like sociology, politics are lot more than mere narration of events, memorizing abstracted concepts, events, names and some definitions. Understandably given that these disciplines aren’t formally about skills, no practical value in any job or even life situations is assumed. Thus it becomes incumbent for the disciplines value, validity and practicality to be understood needing intelligent, appropriate and meaningful pedagogic interventions. Just like biology or chemistry can legitimately provide us understanding of the plant world or of compounds and solutions, our socialization, our politics, family, community, professional life, our cultural practices and more happen to be the provenance of history and sociology.
But recognizing the hows, whys and whats of the social, economic and political forces that implicates itself on our world views, governance, lifestyle and consumption patterns is fraught and challenging. For failure to recognize such processes and forces, makes us complicit in compounding many of the issues we are confronted with. The idea is to hack and get on top of such issues unraveling itself in ways that is often misrecognised. Rather than being an object or victim of such socio-economic forces, with capacities acquired through keener study of social sciences, we respond creatively and agentially in resolving such issues and matters. Viz Bourdieu our habitus can be and needs to be recognized, understood, unraveled and endeavoured to be hacked and worked upon.
Such emergent knowledge, unique and revealing opens up newer possibilities of embodied being and political awakening. And further socio-historical scholarship adds value to the knowledge, understanding and skills of a doctor, a coder, an engineer, an accountant, a designer, architect etc in ways that a disembodied mastery of their skills respective to their domain and profession cannot. Mundanity and our disembodied work and social life limits our horizons. However a new perspective acquired through engaging in these disciplinary domains begins to insert itself in our ‘being’, practices, outlook and indulgences - what in sociology we call, its ‘everydayness’. While the above issues are rather obvious to anyone desiring to understand history beyond recollection of events and personas and linking causality between the two in some analysis - the resolution and responses to such conundrum in historiography has come up with its own problems.
I highlight three major resolutions which have emerged to render history and its alter ego - sociology more meaningful and relevant. While they have been substantial but its rejigged premises are again very questionable. For in its wake an equally debilitating malaise has emerged which brings back the problem of history and sociology's importance and utility to the fore again.
1. Marxism infused social sciences for critique of Capitalism
Firstly a perspective hegemony engendered by Marxist, post modernist historiography and sociology hangs heavily on contemporary humanities and social sciences both at the level of precept and praxis. Such an overtly ideological suffused social sciences even as it enables several possibilities also restricts. Notwithstanding the systematic, rigorous and painstaking research undertaken by many Marxist scholars that has helped in disentangling facets and linkages hitherto opaque and hidden, their overarching premise of class (and now caste) conflict being the ultimate arbiter in unraveling past and present has become rather formulaic, blinkered and unhelpful. In such schema all historical and sociological processes begins and ends with class conflict whose roots are ingrained in the political economy of the times i.e. feudalism in medieval times, capitalist in modern and contemporary. Under the ideological hegemony of Marxist scholars, social sciences is not worth pursuing, if not based on class, caste and gender analysis placed firmly on the vertical axis of hierarchy and power. Coming to modern period in history and in contemporary sociology, their propensity, admittedly in certain seeming logic and coherence, is to link all unedifying and oppressive seams and societal manifestations purely with the prevailing political economy of capitalism.
My argument is not to deny and undermine the value of a methodology which unearths such social schisms and also ways in which vested interests camouflage it. However today modernity as late German scholar Ulrich Beck underscored is a second modernity which is not just about the increasing omnipresence of technology and greater managerialism of social spaces - both work and personal but also about an awakening and realization of risks. Technology and science even as it enables comfort, access, security has its flip sides i.e. industrial disasters and environmental degradation. Today every self respecting industrial group factors (or needs to in any case), these into their very core of business - making sure, for example, their factories do not come up in places where either forests or grasslands abounds and are also the domain of existence and survival of communities of farmers and tribals; that their factories have minimal emissions and with it production waste are comprehensively treated and handled. They minimize risks in their production processes - that doesn’t endanger life of its employees and even those who buy and patronize their end products. Of course such ' self respecting' companies are still exceptions. Lot more business houses need to understand and incorporate such processes in their DNA and cherish it as a value and an ethic informing all their policies and practices. Particularly so in India where unlike in North America, Western Europe, Japan or South Korea such sensibilities are limited and even if they do they are present mostly in IT firms.
Yet risks are not just environmental but social too. When workers and employees are short changed - their wages, tenure, rightly entitled bonuses, perks, medical cover, provident fund etc are seen as drain on company profits and margins. Major businesses have over the years informalised the entire labour sector, lobbied for policies that weakens their accountability vis a vis labor and even makes them unanswerable for manufacturing process and products that can imperil health, safety and environment. Such short sightedness and adhocism greatly enhances societal risks and not ironically, impact businesses themselves. For then we risk unrest, kindle insecurities, fear, ghettoisation engendering pathologies to fester and allow self serving political entities fish in such murky waters for self aggrandizement. Thus matters of unemployment, hunger and disease and extreme insecurities gets spun as caste, faith, ethnic, race and language issues adding to further fragility of society. Such a socio-economic environment hardly augurs well for businesses to sustain themselves in the long run.
This realisation can be sharpened via social sciences that can bring greater critical awareness of such risks which jeopardize their own long term operations for short term gains and profit. Therefore the point is while Marxism tries to locate such problems as structural and implicit to the contradictory nature of capitalism that only socialism can resolve, need not be the case.
2. Social Sciences for critiquing modernity
This brings me to highlight the second character of social science scholarship that in its single minded zeal negates the disciplines own worth and importance - its obsessive critique of modernity. As a matter of fact history and sociology owe their origin and disciplinary status to the very modernity it now constantly critiques and negates.
Though modernity is so embedded in capitalism, yet for all its exploitative qualities, it also saw being accompanied by political change wherein liberty, equality and justice became the aspirational value through a liberal democratic framework. Importantly for us modernity saw the emergence of knowledge canons that have emancipation inscribed on it. Scholarship that has since emerged in wake of enlightenment have unraveled structures and processes that seemingly play out in ways that neither our cognitive capacities or sensibilities innured in the everyday and routines fail to take cognizance of in any depth and substance. That agenda of modernity to render us more agential still largely remains unfulfilled. We still are so influenced by structures that manipulates us to act in ways that seems natural and keep us from a recognition of our agency - for the better or worse. Yet as Jurgen Habermas avered, enlightenment and post enlightenment thinking and knowledge that emerged therewith has enabled immanence. That is, modernity can turn back on itself. To be more specific and to state as an instance, those very social classes who wield all wealth and power i.e. the bourgeoisie and seen to contribute most to the deep crisis of our social world are not just identified as structurally complicit in the system leading to debilitating consequences but are or rather could themselves be re-awakened to recognise their own role and agency in a newer framework. This possibility then can have them act on themselves and the iniquitous system engendered by virtue of them being the bourgeoisie. For in classical Marxist understanding, the bourgeoisie, are perceived intrinsically irredeemable and venal. Their very ‘being’ is motivated purely and exclusively by an ethics of greed, naked individualism and gross materialism whose morbid pecuniary concerns of profit accumulation is a given. Every sector, domain - education, arts, entertainment, health etc - touched by the logic of capital, its avarice is attested to, its contribution to class divide evident. Further, dominant cultural practices and ideology working in the interest of the bourgeoisie obfuscates this objective social reality. Yet education and political awakening among the working classes, it is hoped will enable them to contest such regressive and exploitative bourgeois society in which socialist principles will provide the alternative.
However here my contention is the same logic viz Habermas through greater, direct, guided and meaningful exposure to history and sociology through prisms of new historicism and critical theory, the business and middle classes too awaken to different possibilities. In the process a new communicative rationality embeds modernity where dialogue, a new ethic based on equity and justice is engendered and an egalitarian modernity can emerge within the reasoning of modernity and capitalism.
3. Social sciences for (flawed) articulation of secularism
The third logic after critique of capitalism and modernity that drives much of historical and sociological research in India and which needs freeing from its pernicious influence is a rather warped notion of secularism. In itself secularism cannot be faulted. Tolerance, acceptance, provisioning for practice of different faith and beliefs in forms appropriate is and should be a given in a modern democracy. However what such scholarships misrecognizes and wantonly so is the fact that Hindu society has always provided that possibility from days of yore even as several of its egregious attributes of caste, untouchability, patriarchy have undermined fruition of its normative value of sarva dharma sambhavna and vasudeva kutambam. The latter value and possibilities is something that contemporary historiography and sociology in large measure either ignores, denies and takes a very disembodied approach in its interrogation of Hindu faith and practices. As mentioned, by ‘over empiricizing’ their practice and methods, the focus in contemporary historiography or sociology is not just to look for fault lines in the past but essentialize it ascribing and even inscribing an eternal quality of regress to Hinduism intrinsic to its ontology. Thus Buddhism and Jainism are highlighted as being starkly different and antithetical to Hinduism rather than seeing all the three as representing a collective whole. Just like conflict and attrition in a family does not negate the validity and legitimacy of a family, such contesting manifestation can certainly be seen as expressions that does not undermine ethos of an unified Hindu culture. Further it is posited that a collective political consciousness as Hindus never existed in the past even before Islamic rule was established. Indeed it is asserted that even Islamic rule never brought about Hindu political consciousness. Therefore it's not just erroneous to characterize pre-Islamic rule as Hindu but even to characterize Vijaynagar empire or Shivaji’s contest against Bahamani sultans and Aurangazeb respectively as Hindu resistance is fallacious. Further Islamic theology - the Sharia - did not or only opportunistically mediated the polity and policy of Muslim rulers it is averred. Destruction of temples, viharas, slaughter of non-Muslims and forced conversions were sporadic and exceptional and not the norm! It's also contended by pointing to several (rather few) instances of land grants made to many temples by even an overzealous Aurangazeb or Tipu Sultan. Then also highlighted are the many Hindu poets and saints who eugolized several Islamic patrons. All these manifestation of syncretism then, it is argued, were the contiguous expressions of the same pluralism and absorptive dynamism characteristic to pre Islamic India all cohering to establish a sui generis composite culture. So bottomline being neither was there an Hindu consciousness nor any sense of national sentiments extant in pre-colonial past. In fact an misplaced understanding that is with us today of ancient India being homogenous and ‘Hindu’ was on account of colonial shenanigans who created this myth of Hindu India conflicting with Muslim India to justify the legitimacy of their own rule. Such schisms, as Marxist-Secular scholars would say were products of Oriental scholarship creating discourses of knowledge through which both Hindus and Muslims were mutually ‘othered’ to be perceived as rivals.
Two responses. Many of these claims of composite culture appear to be established rather through a selective reading of the past. Scholarship prismed through such a framework is overemphatic on cleavages in ancient past while attempting to overdramatize harmony and concord between two patently different faith in their ontologies and going overboard with overstating the case of amity in medieval period. However these left-secular historians still struggle to explain two aspects both highly contradictory in their discourse and ouverve. If Hinduism was no more than a myth and harking to a Hindu past ahistorical at best or anti-historical at worse, then concurrently Islam too is a fiction and in whose harking not just creation of Pakistan was untenable but even granting rights to Muslims in India and even when a Muslim majority Pakistan was created, to practice their faith and rituals to the extent that state would remain completely stand-offish in the name of secularism was brazenly contradictory, hypocritical and deeply offensive to Hinduism.
Secondly you cannot belittle contemporary developments and hold them at fault for premising on different epistemes and ontologies. The lack of Hindu identity or Hindu consciousness in either ancient or medieval past in terms that secularist' attest, in itself does not delegitimize current Hindutva politics. Pasts are mostly imaginations first and only later history based on facts. Much of the historical facts that Marxist-secular scholars swear by as incontrovertible truths are subject to dispute given the rather questionable and contrived narrative frames based on which they parse the past. No nationalism anywhere in the world can claim antiquity but yet a narrative based on faith, ethnicity, language is conjured and politicised as an expression of political modernity. Nationalism based on such attributes are not necessarily anti democratic or based on singling out a community or faith. Nazi- Germany example does not automatically make the logic of such nationalist politics illegitimate. Hegel regarded the emerging 19th century political developments in Europe as a historical culmination of cultures that attempt to throw off its baggage of blind faith, superstition, hierarchy in newer nationalist imaginations based on democratic principles of liberty, equality and justice. People's faith, language, ethnicity and even an imagined history so conjured by several European countries became a legitimate process to assert a new nationalist ideal. At several levels Hindu imaginations of modern nationhood syncs with this model. And in principle it seeks not to pivot its discourse in any complete exclusivity but more on certain recognition and acknowledgement of the sanctity of its sacred geography something that was extolled in ancient Hindu texts as Bharatvarsha. In effect there's nothing in such a political vision that's communal or reeks of intolerance. Yet such politicised Hinduism as what Hindutva represents is constantly labelled as narrow, bigoted and fascist even as left-Congress model of secularism failed the very day Pakistan was created. And to this day in overt duplicity, hypocrisy and shamelessly regressive, medievalistic politics of parties based entirely on promoting Muslim identities like MQM, IUML, SDPI is defended and patronised. In effect such secularists are merely tilting at the windmills. They are creating non existing bogeys conjured purely out of prejudice, loathing of a deeply universalist Hindu culture and willing misreading of both Indian history and its philosophy.
Criticise Hindutva politics, the Sangh pariwar as you will on several other counts - their handling of economy, environment, their anti labor policies and even their pedestrian, insulting and boorish approach to matters of culture, arts and aesthetics - assigning film extras, poster makers, astrologers to helm specialized bodies of art and scholarship. One can also question the tactics, methods, the symbols employed by this government and saffron groups. I myself find their methods of mobilization thuggish, crude, brute, egregious and vulgar. Physical thuggery is hardly an edifying response to the intellectual boorishness intrinsic to the left-secular discourse. But the denial of legitimacy to a politicizing Hinduism or 'rearmed Hinduism' as Vamsee Juluri put it and labelling them in meanest of pejoratives in left-secular discourses which still continues to predominate intellectual spaces. There is a refusal to gracefully acknowledge a possibility for a less institutionalised faith like Hinduism to engage and negotiate with modernity and articulate a politicisation in ways that could be sui generis. In this regard Gandhian practice of politicizing Hinduism is the red herring shoved under the noses of sceptics like me - both as a symbol of genuine pluralist secularism and critique of modernity. However his brand of secularism couldn't prevent the creation of Pakistan and the ideology and politics of bleeding India by a thousand cuts that created Pakistan continues to inform Muslim identity politics. As regards modernity, as I implied above, it's not as sinister as made out to be. For all its flaws in its industry, technology and materialist, acquisitive ethic that is seemingly overt to modernity's ontology, a deeper look reveals emancipation inscribed over it which encompasses Gandhian possibilities too. Conditions of modernity alone makes several alternatives possible including critiques towards its own negation.
The Hindutva opposition to Nehruvian -Gandhian secular discourse by the likes of Hegdewar or Golwalkar during the freedom movement and also during the constituent assembly debates were weak, poorly framed and articulated. Even today a similar problem besots Hindutva politics. What is however tragic is the murky bath water of social science scholarship under hegemony of Marxism, accumulated over the years is being drained along with the very valid, desirable and meant to be nurtured baby representing newer scholarship based on different epistemic possibilities.
Hindutva ideology along with its emerging politics, admittedly has several flaws. As an unfortunate response the current political dispensation which has clawed its way to power in face of such prejudice, disgust and propoganda over last 70 years, not surprisingly loathes social science scholarship in its entirety. And tragically Hindutva ideology has indeed not emerged with a credible paradigm to contest the blinkered and selective Marxist historiography and sociology. Their politics and ideology however valid is articulated more viscerally and rhetorically. It is not intellectually grounded in social theory and praxis.
So if we see history and social sciences as having only critique of capitalism, modernity and defense of a highly dubious notion of secularism as its raison d'etre then we are neutering its potential and possibilities and limiting its scope, relevance and utility. In such a case I don't think there will be many takers for history, sociology or political studies. Importantly such highly instrumentalist and reductionist epistemes does more violence to the ontology of social science disciplines.
All professions, jobs, practices today including government jobs are implicated and invested in the bourgeois culture and economy. Our aspirations including those of the proletariat even as we recognize its flaws, serious shortcomings and its shocking subversion of norms, ethics and ideals are determined and shaped within dominant capitalist and liberal ideologies. Socialist alternatives are hardly edifying, inviting and compelling. Socialist experiment everywhere has failed and failed horribly. And socialists themselves continue to have their heads hidden in sand and their rhetoric still couched in language, tropes, symbols which failed to deliver anything democratic, substantial, meaningful for even the working classes.
To me political liberalism is real and not merely an apology for bourgeois agendas but rather having greater range and depth where the likes of Ambedkar also reposed their faith upon. I bring in Ambedkar’s even as his exegesis on Indian history and society also suffered from similar drawbacks seen in Marxist scholarship and I dare say even more.
So the question is whether we can have history and social sciences beyond such overt Marxist agendas, selective targeting of faiths and politics where it offers everyone some concrete, practical value that is relevant, meaningful and even empowering...? My answer is a big YES! For real danger to the epistemic status of history and sociology emerges in the debates caught between two polarizing camps, both of whom are systematically sapping the disciplines possibility, beauty and importance besieged by narrow political anxieties.
One also cannot but rule out other factors at play explained by concepts, themes and framework from non- Marxist paradigms. For example functionalism, symbolic interactionism and structuralism where thoughts of Durkheim, Levi Strauss, Parsons, Weber have helped shape them. Not that they are completely disregarded in contemporary pedagogy of sociology and history but are selectively and opportunistically used to pad up arguments for class conflicts (Weber is after all a darling of the Marxists) and barely to vindicate such thinkers meta narratives and its use, possibilities and relevance immanently. Further the sociological, political models of study that can emerge from India’s own ancient thinkers and philosophical system need to be further explored.
Needless to say that this new fashioning of social sciences being argued for does not preclude Marx and the different Marxist schools - where would our level of understanding of culture without a Gramsci, Adorno or a Bourdieu be today? They continue to help us understand society in singular ways. We clearly need to make a distinction, however inconsistent and contradictory that some may find, between the methodology of Marxism and the ideology and politics emanating thereof. I would imagine Habermas himself makes similar allusions.
I was a rather ‘committed’ Marxist and leftist quite early in my career as a student, as a school teacher, researcher and even in my personal life. However its politics, with its fetish for a selective brand of secularism in particular, started wearing thin. I realised that it was being sustained more by rhetoric, posturing and haranguing but in a language of superior grammar and vocabulary largely in English.
Yet historical/sociological work on education, health, clothing, music, cinema, sports pared from such overt ideologies and selective ontological identification limited to issues of negating seeming dominance of capital, faith and technology, are urgently needed. Under such a newer refashioning its utility and instrumentality needs to be put across meaningfully in pedagogically appropriate ways. Social sciences have to be skill enriching for folks in diverse professions like engineering, medicine, law, coding, fashion, marketing, advertising etc. For the current hackneyed epistemology is extremely circumscribed by refrain of class, patriarchy and Hindutva hollowing out its epistemic and ontological worth.
What kind of scholarship can I point to to substantiate the kind of alternatives that I'm proposing? Needless to say the paradigm informing history and sociology shouldn't be one that serves any ideology or political system - either capitalism or Marxism. In the process neither should it be reduced to banalities and inanities of mere recollection of names, events and definitions that this discipline can be at its most disembodied.
To give some examples - Annales school comes to mind. The tradition set off by Marc Bloch but perfected by Fernand Braudel offers history for everyone and in ways that will enrich lives in terms of our profession, relationships and being a citizen as we will discover the everyday and social world with its artifacts, books, food, clothes, institutions like family, trade, government impinge on one another and selves.
The writings of Yuval Noah Harari is obviously the most compelling in this regard. His magnum opus Sapiens opened up history to newer possibilities and understandings eschewing conflict framework but yet attempting to address contemporary issues of identities, nationhood, migrations in a normative frame. His own guru Jarred Diamond and particularly his history of the world in epic canvas - Guns, Germs and Steel offers a classic instance of how society takes a trajectory based on seemingly insignificant variables.
David Priestland's Merchant, Soldier and Sage again is a riveting work whose title alone will intrigue people to read and their understanding of history will never be the same. Mind you, this work too is marked with anxieties of capitalism and confronting its resilience but inter alia it uses a different model to understand European history from a standpoint going beyond standard Marxian tropes.
Several other works like History of the world in Six Glasses about how alcoholic beverage shaped world history or History of world in Hundred Objects drawing our attention to key artifacts that continue to have resonance today comes to mind. Keith Thomas' Religion and the Decline of Magic on how Christianity and people's faith changed under the impact of reformation and beginnings of modernity open up more to history not just without the kind of reductionist and deterministic readings intrinsic to Marxist epistemes (works of E P Thompson or the multivolume works of Eric Hobsbawm even being avowedly Marxist did overcome this limitation) but the idea of change and historical evolution without being overdetermined by class dialectics. I dare also add works of Niall Ferguson here not in much admiration but for the fact that even conservative history and its highly problematic defense of most horrific manifestation of capitalism needs to understood if only to critique it more comprehensively and offer a robust and sophisticated liberal alternative to Marxist readings as well.
Coming to India, alas…! Such rigorous works of history are patchy and extremely limited. Most credible works on history - credible in terms of methodology but that again in itself deeply problematic - are still Marxist.
Recent attempts to take a more synoptic view of Indian history could include Sanjeev Sanyal’s Land of Seven Rivers and Oceans of Churn. D K Chakravarti work on early archaeology and iron technology in ancient India offers a useful corrective to the rather simplified narration of social change seemingly triggered by iron technology as per R S Sharma. For mediaeval South India familiarity with the works of Noboru Karashima and Burton Stein are a must to understand how polity, governance and social change was multilayered and caste system evolved in ways different from Brahmanical injunctions and norms. As far as colonial period goes Tirthankar Roy offers a useful corrective to the classical Marxist view by the likes of Irfan Habib or even Bipan Chandra. The latter though moved away from Marxist frameworks yet in his defence of Nehruvian secularism presented typical Hinduphobic prejudices in his works on national movement. Dharma Kumar’s works again present a more nuanced approach to colonial history who also took on the left and particularly the Aligarh historians who continue to hold the mantle of defining secularism warped and selective and in the process dismiss well meaning scholarship. One could also mention the work of historians like Ira Mukhoty Daughters of the Sun which offers insight into the royal zenana of the Mughal court and how it had its own impact on Mughal polity. Colleen Taylor Sen delightful book Feasts and Fasts along with K T Achaya’s denser works on Indian food are important works enlightening on our victuals that shaped us. James Mchugh Sandalwood and Carrion is an ingenious work to understand how smell plays an important role in shaping our sensibilities. Then the popular podcasts of Anirudh Kaniseti and Aditya Ramanathan on how different wars shaped Indian history is useful but who again brook no possibilities of the wanton and targeted offense of Islamic regimes and much rather explain their havoc to the medieval zeitgeist not of Islamic faith but of the very brutal nature of despotism. Similar discourse also prevails in Manu Pillai's The Sultans of the Deccan but yet rich in letting out several nuggets on the syncretism emerging in Bijapur Sultanate unfolding in story telling narrative. Kaushik Roy’s several works on war, battles and warrior cultures from ancient to contemporary India is remarkable but if a bit dense and academic.
But then there are several useful works on business history - of Harish Damodaran, Bibek Debroy and Dwijendra Tripathi offering an alternative view on modern economy of India even as it does recognise the intrusive impact of colonialism on Indian business.
It's probably in sociology that we see more works looking at society beyond conflicts and even while many do look at caste but not necessarily in terms of conflicts and even in Marxian paradigms. Scholarship of M N Srinivas and Andre Bettiele is obvious here. Professor Dipankar Gupta's overve on modernity as well as his understanding of caste is unique. R Vaidyanathan’s recent work on caste is also refreshing along with C J Fullers attempt to understand Tamil Brahmins and the persistence of their cultural moorings even across geographies and corporate settings.
The above examples and citations are limited and selective. The idea is to present a sample of works with different methodologies and normative intent. To me the import of these works in certain abstractions needs to be incorporated in more systematic fashion viz. not just our school curriculum but also to be positioned on varied platforms for popular understanding and address. The need is not just to contest the highly problematic aspects of most Marxist-secular scholarship but to contest them with rigor, persuasive narrative frameworks and marshalling of facts beyond mere rhetoric and vacuity - a problem very evident going by what this government has done.
Very often Indological works of the likes of David Frawley, Michael Danino or Koenraad Elst are cited as corrective to Marxist-Hinduphobic historiography and sociology. Much as I see value in the work of Frawley or Elst I can't regard them as historical works. Diachrony is lacking in their discourse even as they enrich our understanding of ancient Hindu texts. (including those of the nastik and sramanic traditions i.e. Buddhism, Jainism but those the left brand in their typical crookedness as non-Hindu) Their endeavour to broadbase its importance among the larger populace lest our scriptures and texts are subjected to needless maligning and abuse are very welcome and worthy of applause.
On a personal note...
My own journey to arrive at this position has been long and arduous. In fact it shouldn't have taken this long. And no one should take this long. As they say the seduction of Marxism and socialism starts to wear thin by the time one is in his thirties if not earlier even as not being sucked into the geist of Marxism early on in life is also lamented. That's also another reason why I have this suggestion of social sciences being opened up to research and post graduate studies not before pupils have work experience and experience of having socialized in the living world beyond studies, college, neighborhood, community and family.
Many...rather few...of you have been following my page for several years. Many thanks and gratitude to all. When I started the facebook page in 2009 and blogging even before about my experience of teaching history, my concerns were professed within Marxian framework. In fact they still do and there's no way Marxist methodology can be ignored by anyone serious about social sciences disciplinary value and merit even as we may not endorse its ideological and political logic. It's like using Marxism as a tool but refusing to end up being a socialist and a secular-socialist at that.
Personal experience, increasingly polarized debates and a gnawing feelings of selectivity in left-secular discourse and practices I began recognising from 2011. My reservations particularly on secular politics of Congress and left was articulated in several postings on my personal Facebook page. But when Modi did come to power, their attitude and demeanor became even more so sickening, revolting and hypocritical. There was no attempt to self interrogate in humility and reflection. Even as Modi government began to heap several insults on scholarship, arts and culture ( I resented their shenanigans more with FTII than JNU btw) I still carried on, maintaining certain dualism - and ambiguity- using my personal page for blasting the left-secular ideology and politics but maintaining stringent objectivity and secular character in this group.
However over the last one year and more the gloves have been off. I may be accused of opportunism with my ideological weather vane pointing and ambling along the direction of the political wind i.e. marching Hindutva. However I would imagine views are more nuanced than merely flag waving for a Hindu cause and I hope to remain with not just a view but a processes of honest enquiry arrived at painfully, with trials and errors, experience, observation, socialization and engaging with serious scholarship over the years. So let me reiterate and it should be rather obvious that despite all my fuming and sardonic criticism of the left, I will not pull myself short in critiquing policies, politics and ideology of any persuasion if they become narrow, blinkered and unable to face up to facts and emerging situation by twisting narratives.
Any work I find of erudite quality, notwithstanding its ideological bias, I will continue to share here even as I may disagree and preface it with my own acerbic comments. Therefore all of you particularly those not my friends on Facebook should know shifts in my intellectual evolution and my greater proclivity towards Hindu ideals without necessarily being very chauvinistic. Many here may find my position rather facile, untenable and disagreeable. They are welcome to disengage from the group if so. For dialogue can happen only if we are less invested and acknowledge our prejudices and biases but yet feel uncomfortable with our certitudes. Not that this page has much traction, but those who wish to contribute, comment or share I will continue to moderate based on my discretion.