Ranjona Banerji: Kids, this is how history is made (up)
Grand as India’s past is, our contemporary history has shrunk drastically — this is what happens when adults revise textbooks instead of children
Dear Children of Std VIII in Rajasthan, welcome to your History lesson for this historic year in your lives. In 1947, India gained Independence from British or maybe Mughal rule. Try and imagine the night of August 14, as the clocks were about to change, India’s first prime minister, Mr No One, gave a speech which has gone down in history but not of course in your history books. Mr No One said, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India awakes to light and freedom.”
Kids dress up as Jawaharlal Nehru, to mark his birthday on November 14, 2014. Pic/AFP
Thus, on August 15, India celebrates its Independence Day. Mr No One remained India’s prime minister until 1964. This is the longest time that No One has been head of any independent nation. This record makes India one of the greatest nations on earth. Usually, prime ministers have names. In India, we are unique trend-setters, where the nameless rule us. The US, now in the midst of its presidential campaign, must also wish it had a Mr No One to trump the other fellow.
Meanwhile, C Rajagopalachari was the first Indian Governor General of India. He is said to have been a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi and Mr No One. In 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was martyred. It has been alleged that he was assassinated by Someone but this is only confirmed by anti-national Congress people. Mr No One gave another speech after Gandhi was killed, saying “The light has gone from our lives.” This is one of the most famous speeches ever to be given by a non-existent person, if you don’t count Mel Gibson in Braveheart and Aragorn outside the gates of Mordor.
Now children, please listen carefully. While No One was prime minister of India from 1947 to 1964, Dr Rajendra Prasad was India’s first president, from when the Constitution of India came into force on January 26, 1950. It is important to remember that India’s Home Minister at this historic time was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. He worked on the unification of India’s princely states into the Republic of India. He was known as the Iron Man. If anyone tells you that Sardar Patel banned the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (children, please stand up and bow) or RSS after Mahatma Gandhi was martyred by Someone who is another great Patriot and Martyr who was much better than Gandhi and No One, do not believe them.
Sardar Patel was the greatest leader of the Congre... sorry, please delete that from your notes. He was the greatest leader of No Party. He wasn’t a member of the Greatest Party of India but so what? We can pretend that he was. It is true that the Greatest Party in India was formed only in 1984 and Sardar Patel passed away in 1950. But as you will learn in your Vedic science class, space and time travel were both invented in India, so possibilities are endless.
India’s freedom from British Rule was mainly fought for by Bhagat Singh and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. No one (and this includes Mr No One, Mahatma Gandhi and so on) else was involved. Certainly, no one from the RSS headquarters was involved. For now, that is. For further illumination, we have to wait for the next historic textbook to be written. Shri Veer Savarkar was involved to some extent. Dr BR Ambedkar was involved but only to the extent that he did not become a Buddhist and that he said nothing against Hinduism. Whenever he said anything against Hinduism, he was not involved in the freedom struggle, in the writing of the Constitution, in India, in anything. The Dalit vote is important to the Greatest Party of India, but not that important.
Children, you will be happy to learn that as a result of this historic textbook, the study of contemporary history has shrunk drastically. Your textbooks will now jump from 1950 to 1975, and then from 1980 to 1997. There will be plenty of history from 1997 to 2004. And of course, from 2014, we will enter the greatest era of Indian history ever.
The other greatest part of Indian history takes place in the distant past. But thanks to Vedic inventions of space and time travel, we can actually go there. Please put on your foil helmets and get ready for the next class.
Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. You can follow her on Twitter @ranjona