Source: The post is based on the article “Supreme Court censure on renaming games: Because the past lives in the present” published in the Indian Express on 2nd March 2023.
Syllabus: GS-1: Urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
Relevance: About renaming places.
News: The Supreme Court has recently dismissed a PIL that sought a renaming commission focussed on “ancient India”.
About the case and renaming places after history
|Must read: Listen to the court – SC warning against renaming places by abusing history, and invoking it selectively, is valuable and timely|
Why terming medieval rulers as “invaders” and “outsiders” is wrong?
Firstly, during medieval times, kings and sultans were not accountable for their actions. These were times when hierarchies were held as important for “social cohesion” and statecraft had very different objectives. Wars and violence were often critical to empire-building.
Secondly, the history is too complex to be captured in binaries. For instance, Aurangzeb revoked many of the policies of his forefathers. He imposed Sharia laws, brought back the discriminatory jizya tax that Hindus had to pay in return for protection and gave orders to destroy Hindu shrines in some parts of his empire.
On the other hand, there were more Hindus in the higher echelons during Aurangzeb’s rule than any other Great Mughal. He had Rajput relatives, and gave grants for maintaining Hindu temples.
Thirdly, the colonial regime periodised India’s past into Hindu rule, Muslim rule and British rule. This is evident from James Mill’s History of India. His book categorises Mahmud of Ghazni, Ibrahim Lodhi, Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan as the invader. His book had a significant impact on the country’s education system for most of the colonial period.