Category: History

Padmavati – The Conflict Review

Rani Padmini is a legendary 13th-14th Century Rajput Indian Queen and was considered to be one of the most beautiful princesses of the Singhal Kingdom (Now Sri Lanka). Ratan Sen was a Rajput ruler in Chittor (Now in Rajasthan) and after proving his bravery to her, won her hand in marriage and brought her back to his Kingdom. However, in 1296 Alauddin Khalji ascended the throne of the Delhi Sultanate and he set out to capture the Indian Sub-continent. He heard of the beauty of Rani Padmini and was enamored by it; he laid siege to the Rajput ruler’s capital of Chittor, eventually the city falls to Khalji’s army. Before Khalji can get to Padmini, she commits Jauhar i.e. she kills herself so that her honor can be maintained. But has her honor really been maintained?

Padmavati is a movie that is based on this story, and was going to be released in early December 2017, it is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali who is a notable film maker. Ever since he announced that the movie is in the making, there have been huge widespread protests against the movie, even before the scenes were shot. The sets of Padmavati were vandalized multiple times by the protesters. They claim that the movie is tainting and maligning history of India and that it also glorifies Alauddin Khalji, a barbarian from outside of our borders.

There are a few things we need to understand. The most important fact is, the story of Rani Padmini is a legend (fictional) and that her existence is very much disputed by historians. Therefore if a story is fictional, then there cannot be restrictions on creativity when that story is used for film making. When creative boundaries are placed on film-making, or even any other form of art; the quality deteriorates considerably.
However, it is also not correct to play on people’s sentiments (if there are any), the same story could have been given a different name and the line,’inspired from the story of Rani Padmini’ could have been inserted and there would not have been any issue. What needs to be done is, the makers of the movie and the groups who are protesting against this movie need to sit down and peacefully talk things out among themselves.

Second, it is important to know that even though Alauddin Khalji is considered an outsider, he did considerable things for India; if it were not for him our history and our contemporary society would be completely different.  The most notable contribution of Khalji, apart from his administrative contribution is his success in military conquest. The Mongols invaded India during his reign and he defeated them, not once, not even twice; but five times. This is a considerable feat as no one was able to withstand the power of the Mongols, they had captured Russia in the winters making them the only invading force to successfully invade Russia during the winters. Alauddin Khalji was able to defend against a force like that and we have to give him that credit. We cannot communalise history in such a manner, the circumstances and situations which happened then were completely different to what they are now; a comparison is simply illogical.
Under no circumstances am I glorifying Khalji, I am stating the facts and he should be given credit where its due to him. Shouldn’t this be considered as maligning history if we only think of Khalji as an outsider who wanted to drain India of its wealth and completely ignoring the fact that he possibly saved us from the Mongol force and more?

The ruling party has also been silent on this issue, instead of mediating between the groups and creating a conducive environment for discussions to take place; the ‘fringe elements’ have been allowed to grow beyond control. Bounties being placed on heads of actors is extremely deplorable in a democratic country like India where we so cherish our history of democracy. What democracy do we talk about where people are threatened to have their noses chopped off? It is high time the government intervenes into the issue and begins to do what it was supposed to do all these months ago.

We cannot ignore the fact that there has been a growth in such issues and incidents in the country. Yet we must look at the brighter side that these issues are finally being highlighted and discussed in mainstream media. A considerable improvement, such an issue would not be discussed say 15 years ago. We have grown, but we mustn’t stop, we must continue this growth.

Priyamvad Rai

 

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Happy Independence Day!

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.”
-Jawaharlal Nehru

With these words spoken by Jawaharlal Nehru 70 years ago on 15th August 1947; the nation state which we call our homeland, India came into existence. From the tyrannical and despotic two century rule of the British, we finally got a chance to take our own decisions and shape our own future. But do we really cherish this hard-fought freedom?

It is an undeniable fact that over the years 15th August and even other national holidays have become normal holidays for the majority of us to sleep in late at home, and even I am guilty of it. However we need to change this attitude of ours. But the question which comes up is how can this change in mindset be brought about? I have thought long and hard about the answer to this question and finally I have been able to come up with a not-so-perfect, but yet, an answer.

To truly appreciate our country’s independence and achievements we need to have proper knowledge of the history of our country and most importantly, how our independence was achieved, the sacrifices made by our ancestors to achieve it. This can only be done by emphasising on the history of the freedom struggle in our education institutions. Majority of the people do not know what really went down in those years of struggle against the British; and it is the same people who completely dismiss the contributions made by some of the leaders of our national movement.

Pride. Taking pride in the achievements of our country is probably the most important step in truly appreciating and valuing the independence. We have come a long way since 1947, even though most people refuse to believe that. Pride should not be taken to such a height that we completely neglect the shortcomings of the government. It pains me when people belittle our country at every opportunity they get, criticism is an important aspect of democracy, but more than criticism it is constructive criticism which goes a long way in the development of any country, something which we as people of this great nation lack.

Another step which we should take is feeling loyal to our State (By State, I do not mean the federal states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar etc. By State I mean our country i.e. India). Most people confuse the State with the government and often ridicule those who say that ‘we support the state’ or we ‘we support our country.’ The terms State/Country and government are often used interchangeably. Government is simply the machinery which ensures the State functions smoothly but; the State, at its most fundamental level means the people. We need to develop a sense of loyalty to our people, the same kind of feeling should come in us when we see a fellow Indian in a foreign nation, this feeling should come even when we are inside India, because that is what a country is all about. Feeling pride, loyalty and goodness when we are with our own people who are united by common history and circumstances.

As the years go by, India is moving towards a bright future but this future will only be enjoyable if we develop this sense of pride and patriotism in ourselves, in fact this bright future can be achieved more quickly if we attempt to instil these feelings within us at the earliest. Happy Independence Day to my fellow Indians, lets make this a better year.

Priyamvad Rai

One Belt, One Road

The infamous Silk Route, which extended all the way from China to the Mediterranean Sea was a crucial part of the economy of the ancient world. It was called the ‘Silk Route’ because the trade route was setup mainly for the purpose of meeting the demands of Chinese Silk in Europe. It was travelled upon by many famous travellers whose works shine light upon this route like Marco Polo (13th – 14th Century) who was also known as the ‘Silk Road Traveller.’ It (Silk Route) was probably the first step towards what we term as Globalisation as it had united the west and the east.

Moving to the present, China has launched an initiative called ‘One Belt, One Road’ (Referred to as OBOR henceforth), similar to what the Silk Route was; let us look at what this massive project is about.

OBOR is considered to be Xi Jing Ping, the Chinese President’s most ambitious project. It focuses on improving transport and communication links between the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. The project focuses on land as well as maritime routes. The project will definitely play an important part in boosting the domestic economy of China, as well as a bargaining chip in economic diplomacy between China and other countries. OBOR will help in increasing the regional cooperation of Asia and South Asia. It will also help the many developing countries who are participating in this project will also receive a boost to their respective economies

India opposes the OBOR project of China, it has stated many reasons for doing so. One of the main reasons for the opposition is that a certain section of the OBOR, called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (Read the story about P.O.K. here). India considers the project as violation of the sovereignty of India and her territory. India’s stance on the OBOR is acceptable, but India shouldn’t reject the idea of OBOR wholly .

Experts may view OBOR as China’s tactic of accessing the markets of the participating countries in this ambitious project by coercing them into accepting the project. But I believe that it is vital that this project receives maximum support; in an increasingly hostile environment between nations in Asia and South Asia. Many political leaders around the world are advocating more on withdrawing from global relations and increasing isolationism. Like United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union or Donald Trump’s policy of closing the borders of United States to immigrants by increasing requirements of work visas (H1B visas) and stopping all flights from Middle East countries.

One Belt One Road is estimated to be completed in a time period of 20-30 years and will cost around $1 Trillion (US). It is a long time and large amounts of resources will be required to complete it; however, the return on the investment for the participating countries will be enormous and therefore India should also reconsider its stance on the OROB project as it will help in improving relations with China which have been quite strenuous in recent times. Also India is compromising on the bigger image for a regional, bilateral conflict and will lose out on the benefits the project will provide two or three decades down the line.

I hope the Government of India will rethink its stance, this will be opposed by most citizens of the country as it hurts India’s image internationally, but opposing OBOR also makes India look like a child who is sulking because he/she did not get something. A country needs to function taking short term as well as long term goals into account when framing their foreign policy and stating their stances on various issues and policies around the world.

Priyamvad Rai