Satire Shot

Whitewashed Mughals: Didn't you know the Taj Mahal was named after a group of hotels?

The movement to erase India's Mughal past finally gets some intellectual heft.

Greetings, brainwashed liberal plebeians. This is your lucky day. I know that you don’t usually get the privilege of reading my words of wisdom on this commie rag. But I’ve been in such a good mood lately that I thought I’d temporarily suspend my disdain for achieving a higher purpose.

Now, let me introduce myself. I am probably India’s greatest living historian (out of all the people currently residing in New Jersey). By profession I am a businessman, but I’ve earned so much money that I have now dedicated myself full-time to correcting the European and Islamist version of Indian history that our leftists tend to treat as gospel.

I didn’t publish any papers for peer review because I don’t believe any other historian can even come close to my expertise, but my thoughts and findings were quite popular with the erstwhile readers of Sulekha.com. I have many self-published books that dozens of people have purchased from my website. And I once gave a series of lectures on Indian History at Harvard University. Sure, I had to suffer the indignity of pretending to be Ramachandra Guha, but I just spent half my lecture praising Jawaharlal Nehru and the other half making up obscure Mahatma Gandhi quotations and no one knew the difference.

But my most effective coup d’etat over the discourse has been the spread of my teachings through photoshopped documents, badly formatted WhatsApp messages, and blog posts written in Comic Sans. All my research is backed with such strong scholarly resources like fever dreams, smog-induced paranoia and gut feelings.

Fresh endeavour

Anyway, to get to what I want to talk about today, let’s go back to a balmy New Delhi evening of September 2015. Oh, what a happy day! After years of campaigning, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation finally changed the name of Aurangzeb Road. My enthusiasm knew no bounds. It was proof that in India, justice may be delayed but it is never denied.

Let this be a lesson to all future tyrants: you can sacrifice countless lives at the altar of your ambition. You can oppress minorities, create permanent fissions among the populace and set in motion the ultimate downfall of your empire. But a few centuries after you die, we will throw a coat of cheap paint over a signboard, carelessly stencil in the name of someone we like more than you, and then pretend that you didn’t exist at all. Sure, my glee was a tad bittersweet because they named the road after another Muslim. But hey, I can always appreciate a small step in the right direction.

So imagine my excitement when I heard that brave social media warriors on Twitter demanded that we do to our history books the same thing we did to that signboard: clear it of any mention of the Mughals. However, I realised that the movement had mainstream acceptance as well as institutional backing, but it was missing one crucial factor that could prevent it from crossing the finish line: intellectual heft. That is where I come in.

Pointless exercise

Now, why do we need to study the Mughals anyway? If history is about learning from the past, they barely provide us with any knowledge. The only thing we learned from Akbar is how to hide your secret gay relationship right in the open. I mean, wake up sheeple. Akbar and Birbal were regularly leaving the palace together, into the darkness of the night, without anyone accompanying them. What were they doing in the wilderness, playing Scrabble? I don’t think so.

The reign of Jahangir shows us that just because someone is a scion of a ruling dynasty, it doesn’t mean that they are fit to run a kingdom. What do we even do with that fact? It has no discernible implication in the modern world! And the only moral of Bahadur Shah Zafar’s short and sad reign is that mediocre poetry isn’t really the best way to fight a revolution. But we already knew that!

We can easily explain away the absence of the Mughals from our textbooks. We’ll just tell future generations that the Taj Mahal was named after the group of hotels, the Red Fort is a monument dedicated to Indian communism and Chandini Chowk was originally established by Karan Johar as a set for one of his movies. What they don’t know will not hurt them.

Rewriting history

In fact, why stop at the Mughals? We should remove everyone we think is unpleasant from our textbooks. Instead of teaching our children that the British ruled our country for 200 years or so, we should tell them that the Kohinoor diamond was stolen by a rag-tag bunch of British con artists led by George Clooney and Brad Pitt. When we remove all mention of the Delhi Sultanate, we’ll explain how the Qutub Minar is just a half-built skyscraper abandoned by a bankrupt builder who fled the country. And finally, don’t forget to remind our children that Partition was caused by anti-national Jawaharlal Nehru University students with the help of their liberal backers who supported a plebiscite for the North West Frontier regions..

As Gandhi once said, if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.

Or maybe it was Goebbels? Thankfully, it’s not my job to know that.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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