Do We Know Our History? Do We Want To?

Posted on February 25, 2010 in Specials

Gitanjali Maria:

A historic site or an amusement park — which one would today’s youth prefer to visit on a weekend out? My idea to pay a visit to Dandi, the historic place where Gandhiji started his salt Satyagraha was pooh-pooed by most of my friends, saying what good is it to visit a place in memoriam to a dead old bald man, whose relevance can only be gauged by the denominations of the currency notes on which he is printed.

Over the years the generations have acquired a disregard and an indifferent attitude to the history of our ancient nation, that dates back to more than two million years and the struggles and triumphs of the ancient civilizations and the medieval and modern India. A fast paced lifestyle where independence, both economic and social, come at a very early age without much of the responsibilities that weighed down our grandfathers have made today’s youth ignorant about the pains that they endured to get us this freedom. In a world where freedom is taken for granted and violence and ‘tit for tat’ is the normal way of everyday lives, few can digest the fact and believe that India wrestled its freedom from foreigners with a non-violent struggle. It is hard to think of a situation or relate to such a one wherein thousands of innocent people bravely faced the cannons with the cry of ‘Jai Hind’ rising from their throats.

Independence Day and Republic Day have become just another holiday for many and students often do not know the real significance of these days nor do they celebrate and commemorate these with true sense of patriotism and belonging. So much so that many don’t even know when Martyr’s day is celebrated or why it is celebrated so. It is true that many of the ideals that Gandhiji taught cannot be practiced today but disrespecting him and not giving him and other freedom fighters the due respect they deserve is a matter of shame for the whole country.

The comments that are often passed about Gandhiji are as good as calling him ‘a half naked fakir’, the only difference being that this time it is from his own people. The heroic acts of Jhansi ki Rani, Tatya Tope or Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula are alien to many Indians. If people are not bothered about such recent history which has defined the freedom of our country, then there is no point in enlightening them about Emperors of long ago like Akbar or Ashoka. Majority of the youth have hardly any interest in the heroes or freedom fighters of India and for them these are just images or names out of history books.

Even the administration is, at times negligent towards historic sites and monuments and many of these are left uncared and unprotected for. This also leads the youth to be least interested in studying the past glory of India. It is said that history is the mother of all sciences as it helps us to unravel the mysteries and stories of a bygone era and to learn from the mistakes of yesterday, to have a better today and tomorrow. There is a common saying, “History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” A country without memory is like a country of madmen; a country devoid of any pride or glory. Proper respect and due regard should be given to all those who have sacrificed and endangered their lives for the welfare of the nation. Maybe we should take a leaf out of Munnabhai’s book.

PS: Definetely all is not lost as we did finally visit Dandi the last weekend.