Chapter

Contours of the Past, Shape of the Future

Vinay Lal

in The History of History

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780195672442
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081929 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195672442.003.0003
Contours of the Past, Shape of the Future

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Since India gained independence in 1947, the country's historians have become prominent in the public sphere. In the controversy surrounding the Babri Masjid, historians have made their presence felt by verifying or disputing the claims of both militant Hindus and their opponents. In addition, they were transformed into editorialists, pamphleteers, and activists following the destruction of the mosque in December 1992. This chapter examines the politics of history in independent India, focusing on the relationship between nation-building and the making of Indian history. It first looks at nationalism and the freedom struggle in India and then considers how historical work promoted the ideology of secularism in the country. It also discusses communalism as an emerging force in Indian history, iconic debates in Indian history, and Mahatma Gandhi's embodiment of the ahistoricity of Indian civilization.

Keywords: India; history; Mahatma Gandhi; politics; Babri Masjid; independence; nation-building; secularism; nationalism; ahistoricity

Chapter.  27111 words. 

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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