When I was a kid, I just didn't understand why my forefathers were such losers.
I mean that literally. They lost wars, didn't invent much, seemed to be poor and generally uneducated. Everything was invented in Europe or China.
Every single time an invader came from beyond the Indus, they just lost. And then their children lost against invaders' children, and it kept repeating generation after generation.
My problem was more severe because my mother would keep telling me stories about our glorious past, but they never checked out from the history books in my school. I believed my mother, but I also believed my books. This caused a major rift in my mind, and an insatiable interest in Real Indian History, as I called it.
Fortunately, my mother is a history major. So I read all history books that were kept in a huge steel trunk by the time I was 10. They were all in Hindi, the language we spoke at home, so it was an easy read.
The history books also seemed to comply with what was written in my school text. Except that they were more detailed, and also covered the intervening period between those wars, fought amongst the glorious invaders with my losers of forefathers.
Same Event : Different Narratives
Finally I came to a conclusion which gave me peace (for a short while): the books mostly talked about how we lost, while my mother would tell me stories from the intervening periods.
My mother's stories focussed on the good and the great in our history, among some losses, while history books seemed to completely glide over the good parts.
If India were to represent a person, say a friend, my mother would keep telling me - remember that time when your friend got a medal?
She would focus on the struggles to get that medal and the ultimate triumph after getting it.
The books ignored the medal.
But in the after party, someone pulled the pants off my friend.
And that's what the books talked about, instead of the medal : remember the time when your friend was standing naked and everyone was laughing at him.
The story in the book BEGAN with the after-party and focussed on the embarrassing details.
It was the same freaking story, just different narratives.
My mother told me that my friend was a warm, sensitive, smart "person" (or in this case a civilisation) who had some rough time with the bullies.
My books told me that my friend was a loser, and got beat up everywhere, and in everything.
Why were the wrong parts of history highlighted in my school text?
History = Memory
We don't remember every little detail of our past. Just the highs and lows.
These special events could be different for different people, leading to different narratives of the same incident.
Who we are, is a sum total of all these memories, and our perceptions and interpretations of them.
If you want to control someone, remove or rehash their memory - and replace it with a narrative that suits you.
Create correlations and interpretations that suit you.
This is very common. Marketing does this to us all the time.
And like all tools, whether it's evil depends upon the intent. For example, when a parent tells a kid to "forget that bad incident and focus on what's next" they are encouraging a memory rehash for good.
When an advert tells you that people who are different use a Mac, it's trying to position itself in a different way. A little more grey than the parent-kid memory rehash.
But when a coloniser rehashes the combined memory of a race, just to be able to enslave them, what you get is pure evil.
and like all memory rehashes, this stays for a very long time.
Enslave a Civilisation in 5 Steps
Let's learn how to reprogram a civilisation with the intent to enslave them.
What are my credentials for this course? Well I am part of a 4000 year old unbroken tradition, which has been rehashed multiple times in the past.
Let's get started.
Step 1: Rewire their memory by rewriting the history books to fit your narrative. Make sure to highlight the internal conflicts (divide the people).
Step 2: Reformat the education system, to distribute those history books. Make it mandatory to read these books to get jobs.
Step 3: Pay the biggest influencers to endorse your version of the story.
Step 4: Target the children - get as many children as possible into these schools.
Step 5: Eliminate any person or system that adheres to other schools of thought.
The British did this very, very well.
So much so, that multiple generations of Indians grew up believing that they were children of losers, or at least were perceived so by the rest of the world.
Why is this relevant now?
There is a very common question that VCs in India ask the entrepreneurs -
is there a company similar to yours in the developed world?
Take a moment to see how deep that question goes.
Interpreted, this means - "if you are working on something completely new, I am less interested".
But they are NOT to blame.
A general mindset in India is this - we can not do something that is completely new.
There are exceptions, of course, and things are changing. But this lies at the root of all complaints like "why we do not have a Google from India", "why Indians do so well abroad but suck in their own country" and so on...
Is this fixable?
Yes, but it's hard. It would require a reboot of many a history books and a 100 year old narrative of our 5000 year old history.
That's a risky proposition -
- the government might feed in it's own agenda like all governments do,
- many would claim new narrative to be driven by an ulterior motive,
- ultimately, massive politicisation of the whole issue would ensue
- mostly, it won't be a constructive debate.
An easier alternative would be to get an Indology research department in an Ivy League, to collaborate with an Indian university, to ensure that there is an endorsement by 3rd parties too.
Will it happen? Maybe, but not in next 5 years.
Till then, I will teach history to my children the way my mother taught me.