In this essay…
History is reckoned as the mother of all subjects. It means that the rest of the subjects are derived from history. For example, politics is the arrangement of historical events in logical sequences in the context of political development. Similarly, sociology read the social room based on historical facts. It provides analysis and interpretation of the human past that enable to study continuity and changes. Historians use all forms of evidence to examine, interpret, revisit, and reinterpret the past. On the basis of it, they draw some patterns.
The drawn pattern by historians often attracts debate and discussions. Inferences of history can be different for different people. For some people, history doesn’t pay justice to those who bring ethics to political life. For others, it is a series of upvoting to victorious people who won through scientific way rather than romanticizing it. To adopt a scientific approach, one needs the capability of self-restraint and calmness in decision-making. Such designs are found throughout the spectrum of history.
An entangle knot of scientific tradition in ancient history
During ancient Greek, Socrates was one of the greatest philosophers. People of Athens had faith in god because of the tradition of worshipping gods. Socrates opposed this notion. Due to this, he was trailed in court for misleading the youth. He was ordered to drink poison as punishment. However, he had an option of either he drunk a cup of poison or exiling from Athens. He chose to drink a cup of poison instead of sacrificing freedom to tell truth to the people by exiling them from Athens. That’s why he is remembered by history for his courage to speak the truth rather than romanticizing false consciousness.
Similarly, in the context of Indian history, social exclusion in the name of the caste system was romanticized in the later Vedic period. During those periods, the Varna system took its practical form on the basis of birth. This was the unscientific and dogmatic practice of that time. This dogma was first challenged through Shraman tradition i.e., through the surge of Buddhism and Jainism. Later, it was challenged by the Bhakti movement. E.g. Kabir, Namdeva, Meera, etc. opposed it. Thus, history remembers him for their scientific approach.
But in the transition period, Ashoka is praised by one and criticized by others for his actions. Before the Kalinga war, Ashoka adopted a romantic approach to Berighosha i.e, winning land through violence. But after the Kalinga war, he adopted a more scientific approach – Dhammaghosha – winning hearts over the land by renouncing the romance of war. However, the critique uses Krishna’s philosophy of Bhagwat Geeta to criticize Ashoka’s approach. For them, Ashoka romanticized idealism and left the dharma of the statesman i.e., war. Consequently, India faced a series of foreign invasions.
Trickling down into medieval times
After the decline of Hindu rule in India, foreign invaders started coming to India. Subsequently, after the death of Mahmud of Ghazni, he invaded the Multan region of India followed by Bhatinda of Punjab. In the second battle of Tarain, he defeated Prithviraj Chauhan. He appointed his slave Qutubuddin Aibak to rule India. Since then slave dynasty started in India. After Iltutmish, Razia Sultan came to power. But she faced criticism based on romanticized ideas.
Subsequently, Balban further romanticized through prostration and Kissing the sultan’s feet. In the same fashion. He followed the policy of blood and iron and became cruel to the enemy. This became the cause of the decline of the slave dynasty. On the other hand, the Delhi sultanate under the Tughlaq dynasty under Mohammed Bin Tughlaq adopted a scientific approach by focusing on agriculture. Consequently, he laid the provisions for Takkavi loans related to cultivation along with a separate department of agriculture, “Diwan-i-Kolhi”.
Similarly, we came across two prominent leaders in Indian history – Akbar and Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb was a romantic man and Akbar was a scientific man. It was Akbar who understood that for a good statesman one needs to create goodwill among the people. Consequently, he withdrew Jizya tax. Under his rule, revenue was based on the land yield through Dahsala System. On the other hand, Aurangzeb re-imposed Jiziya and the pilgrimage tax that was withdrawn by Akbar. That’s why, unlike Aurangzeb, Akbar is called “Great” by history.
Scientific man over romantic one in modern history
After the end of the Mughal Raj, Britishers came to India first as a trader and later established imperialism. It was Farrukshiyar who issued a Farman giving the British East India Company the right to reside and trade in the Mughal Empire. However, within the British administration leaders were recognized differently due to their approaches. Lord Rippon promoted local self-governance in India. He brought reforms to increase the legitimacy of the British Raj by winning the hearth. On the other hand, General Dyer adopted romanticized and cruel means by opening fire on protestors in Jaliawalla Bagh.
However, the response to British imperialism was also varied. It is still often debated today. Although the objective was the same, the approach adopted by revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh and leaders of the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) was based on the romanticized idea of murdering high-profile officers and robbery for financial management. On the other hand, the approach adopted by mahatma Gandhi was based on scientific means by adopting non-violence. He adopted maximum restraints so that western media can report the cruelty of the British Raj. In this process, he was successful. That’s why the spirit of Gandhism is famous in the world.
This trend was also seen in the world just before the process of decolonization. The world witnessed two world wars. Allied power under the leadership of the US had adopted scientific means unlike Central power under the leadership of Italy, Germany, and Japan. Fascism in Italy under the leadership of Mussolini and in Germany under the leadership of Hitler was based on racist ideas and hollow nationalism. Consequently, fascist power got defeated in both world wars. Even within the allied power, the US was more scientific than Russia which let Russia for bloodletting with Germany in wars.
Image of scientific tradition in the post-modern era
After the end of both world wars, a new international system was established to stop further war and bring people. It didn’t last long. With the materialization of nuclear power by the USA followed by the USSR, ideological differences between liberalism and communism, and proxy wars in post-colonial states laid the foundation of the cold war. USSR followed the romanticized idea of communism that was tested in a feudal society (Russia) instead of capitalist society as suggested by Marx. But the US, if not adopted, at least pretends like the US is adhering to international norms.
Romance of communism was even seen in the policy adopted by Independent India. For example, five years plans, State led socialism, etc are some of the striking features. Consequently, after the first five years, India didn’t gain a growth rate as expected. Thus, India’s economy ended with low growth between 1950 to 1980 which is also called as “Hindu rate of growth”. Since then India started preparing itself for economic reform that was based on scientific notions. Consequently, since NEP 1991, India’s growth became an inspirational story in history.
However, in the context of external aggression in post-independent India, India was romanticized by the world for international norms. Subsequently, India focused more on poverty alleviation than military might. In 1962, China attacked India and forced India for adopting a scientific approach. Thus, India started prioritizing defense, established a spy system R&AW in 1968, worked on the space sector, etc. It is the scientific approach that India stood against Chines by looking into the eyes in both cases Doklam as well as Galwan.
Thus, it is true that history sees victors and looser differently. In fact, within the victor, history also sees scientific and romantic people differently. It provides a guiding lamp for the world leader to work in the interest of the people so that history would remember them for positive outcomes. It is high time for leaders around the world to look at climate change and terrorism seriously. History is a dynamic process. It is written every day in every way. Thus, the names of those leaders will be written in golden letters that reduce the suffering of human beings.
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