New Delhi: There was no concept of nationalism in India according to work done by British historians and they along with Marxists chroniclers “competed” to indulge in character assassination of Indian leaders, historian Satish Chandra Mittal today claimed.
“Cambridge historians opine that there was no idea of existence of nationalism in India and that the concept of nationalism was European which developed during the 19th century during the British rule in India,” he said.
Speaking at the Foundation Day lecture of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) themed ‘Interpreting the Indian National Movement’, Mittal said it was difficult to have a correct picture of the historical facts.
He said the concept of nationalism existed in vedic literature and in modern times, with leaders like Aurobindo, Lokmanya Tilak and Vivekananda propagating the idea of nationalism. However, the British historians failed to take a note of it.
Mittal, a former professor of history at the Kurukshetra University said British historians failed to understand the Indian or eastern concept of nationalism.
Citing the example of Grant Duff, a Resident Officer of the Satara kingdom and author of ‘A History of the Mahrattas’, Mittal said historians have written good things about the province, or a region where they resided or were affiliated to but had no good things to say about overall India.
“Some aspects are common between British and Marxist historians. They competed with each other to indulge in character assassination of Indian freedom leaders. Both are not interested in giving any Indian his due place.
“The (pre-independence) Marxists (historians) had condemned the freedom movement. The stance of communists during the era of Stalin was bitter towards Gandhiji, but during the era of Nikita (Khrushchev) it changed. After criticism, EMS Namboodiripad (first elected Communist Chief Minister of Kerala) later wrote that Gandhi was greater than his (Gandhi)ism,” Mittal said.
He also emphasised on the need to approach Indian history in a more “Indo-centric” rather than “European centric” manner.