Red, White and Black

Shared Heritage and History
11 June, 2006, 1:01 am
Filed under: India, Pakistan

Pakistan and India share a collective history that goes back centuries, yet both are guilty of not celebrating it as such.

Let me elaborate.

I watched The Legend of Bhagat Singh last night and a few things struck me. One. The history of the struggle against the British has always been taught as two-sided game: there was the Congress, there was the Muslim League and they were the representative of India against the British government. We know nothing of the less-profiled heroes which the movie highlighted. And the weird thing is that the agenda of these less profiled movements was more comprehensive than that adopted by either of the main parties. They had one thing right from the beginning: total independence should be sought instead of a mere transfer of political power. At the end of the day, it was mere transfer of political power that took place. The colonial structures in the form of the bureaucracy, the political structures and the ruling elite. It has taken a long time for the poor of our countries to reap the fruits of real freedom [i.e. if they have been lucky enough to do so].

Two. One other thing that glared me right in the face while watching the movie: the majority of the movie was situated in Lahore and yet I had scant knowledge about the events portrayed. It is almost as if they people have been erased from the slate of history on this side of the border! I don't even want to hazard a guess, as to why this was done.

While I was still mulling over this, I came across this article in the paper today. The author is an Indian lady who accounts her experiences of a visit to Bukhara. The article is worth a read for it narrates the history, the heritage and the myths of bygone days. Days which were shared by both our countries. Yet, we don't remember them like that. By and large it is a Muslim history: it is either revered and glorified [knowingly or unknowingly]; or hated for the barbaric kings who brought it here. But the Indian [lets say – the pre-partition Indian identity] element has been purged from this history. Why? Is it all because of the events of '47? Or had we started demarcating our history even earlier?

More importantly though, how can we work towards a shared heritage and history?


2 Comments so far
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‘ work towards a shared heritage and history’. Your words remind me of what President Clinton said as the keynote speaker of the 2006 graduation ceremony at Princeton
He talked about ‘Universalism’ as the way to ensure a peaceful existence for all nations. However this phenomenon is contingent on our recognizing the interdependency of all nations regardless of their leanings. Pretty much similar to what you say about Pakistan and India; celebrate the shared heritage and differences will cease to matter.
Interesting post

Comment by I Me My

I have always being fascinated by Bollywood movies…kai! I don’t know what else to say…

Comment by Onyeka Nwelue

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