Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Historical perspective...

It would have been a good discussion in the hindsight to compare chalk with cheese. As we flip through the history of Mughals in India, we are overburdened by the theory of Aurangzeb’s responsibility as a villain in Indian history. However, wouldn’t it be interesting to understand the gradual fall of the empire and therefore the extra burden on Aurangzeb to overturn that? Indeed, it has been discussed in some cases that the great Sahjahan (a great reason for our foreign currency) was in more than one ways as much responsible as was his fallen son. The myopic and contemporary view could be the biggest Achilles hill for history but for it’s over reaching totality.

During Sahjahan’s regime, revenues came down sharply; administration was in shambles and notwithstanding his famous love, the greatest monument in world history could not possibly pass him as a great administrator. Such were the inherited circumstances for his son who undoubtedly was a religious bigot and hence probably a mismatch in a pluralistic India. But most of the history books never judge him in totality. Similar is the case with Bengal politics and its two politicians in particular.

The first one started with a world of possibilities yet finished as a popper, while the second one bore the brunt of predecessor’s follies and hence became a failure. Just as Sher Shah Suri was more than an able administrator for Akbar, so was the case with these two people albeit in opposite manner.

Without a doubt that both of them fought a battle against their contemporaries, the task is more Herculean for the later as he inherited a more volatile and angry subject, which is looking for avenues to outburst. The cultivated mediocrity and nepotism is more dangerous in the sense that it wipes out able leadership, makes no incentive for better alternative and never inspires to challenge the inevitable. And that is precisely why I feel more sympathetic against the general wisdom of historical judgment.

A heritage of historical blunders is a difficult task for an honest administrator to make up.

He inherited the kingdom when everything was possible; he chose to be the last because it suited his political class. He never allowed comparison as it would have dwarfed his own legacy and he closed all windows of knowledge as it could have challenged his supremacy. Alas! He could have changed it the way everybody wanted; instead he blamed all others in conspiring his defeat. In choosing the rural population to be the craftsmen of his beloved monument he created history only for the consumption of a select few and maybe, unintentionally started the downfall of the empire.

The trouble for the inheritor was this insurmountable inertia. Inertia of inaction, inertia of self defeating knowledge, inertia of stability. To challenge Newton’s first law is not possible even in Marx’s dictionary. In spite of the best efforts, the inheritor was destined to be a loser, not by choice but by decree. A decree which was pronounced long before he came; only he accelerated it by childish mistakes.

Sometimes you survive even after murdering someone; sometimes you get screwed because someone just saw you hiding the obvious. Such is the short sightedness of historians that Sahjahan escaped the whole wreath by hiding under his wife’s monument which unfortunately crushed his son’s economical future.

This is not to justify the religious bigotry of Aurangzeb, neither to exemplify the ability of the second person than his predecessor, but only to say that sometimes we do make mistakes in judging personalities.

Those who could rise above their contemporary are called great; those who accelerate their progress than their peers are called excellent while those who choose to hide under historical blunders are the same themselves.

You create history by writing them on your own, not following.

In my view, even in failure the honest Trier should be judged more favorably for his sheer tenacity for action, for his passion to change things even if they became a Waterloo for the regimen.

May be, as always, I am wrong again.

And may god allow the already depleting minority to rest in peace. Amen!