(Washington Post, May 9: ‘Nehru who? Indian textbooks delete Nelson Mandela, English poets and the country’s first prime minister’)
I would like to offer my text-book changing services to the Rajasthan government for a large fee. Here are samples of my work:
The tryst with destiny speech: Close to midnight on the 14th of August 1947, some guy made a speech. Experts point out elementary errors in it, such as when the fellow talked about ‘At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.’ The world doesn’t sleep just because it’s midnight in India.
Great Indians like Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Guru Golwalkar and Veer Savarkar could have easily made a far better speech.
How India won independence: Many of our greatest leaders realised we had to craft a masterly strategy to win freedom. So Hedgewar, Golwalkar and Savarkar pretended not to oppose the British or take part in silly acts of civil disobedience. That was because they wanted to prepare for a patriotic war. But before they could fulfil their dreams, the British, in a fiendishly devious move, suddenly upped and left India.
Thus India became free and the national flag was unfurled by somebody on the Red Fort, watched by eminent people such as Sardar Patel, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Deen Dayal Upadhyay.
The Father of the Nation: Mohandas Gandhi was a great spinner of khadi on his charkha. He drank goat’s milk. He liked non-violence. His last words before he died were ‘Hey Ram.’
Nelson Mandela: Many years ago, the Aryans ruled South Africa, which for some reason was resented by the local black population. So the Aryans allowed Mandela to win elections and become president. He was a good president, in spite of being non-Aryan.
Poems: Edward Lear wrote dangerous non-veg nonsense such as this: ‘There was an old man of Tobago/Who lived on rice, gruel and sago/Till, much to his bliss/His physician said this/To a leg, sir, of mutton you may go’.
Scrap this rubbish and substitute instead this patriotic poem by Savarkar: ‘O Beautiful Hindusthan, our very soul you are/O beloved Hindusthan/The most delightful one of all you are/So many lands seen and heard of/Beside her, all so very small do seem/Puny are Egypt, China and Japan/Britain very much a hell, I deem’.
Letter from a she-buffalo as an aunt: Dear kids, I too give milk and lots of dung. Do folks call me mother? Nope. And they don’t pass laws banning buffalo meat. That’s because I am black. I know I can’t be your mom. But could you at least think of me as a distant aunt?
Who’s great, who’s not: Everybody in ancient India was great, except Alexander. We had Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka etc etc. But there were few great people during our 1,200 years of slavery, except for Shivaji, Rajaraja Chola, who was great with a small ‘g’ and Maharana Pratap, the only person to be called Great Great, since Maha means great. The Greats have recently returned, one of them being Vasundhara Raje the Great Text-Book Changer.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint. The views expressed are personal.