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I Don’t Like Modi’s India; History Won’t Be Kind to Him: Romila Thapar

I Don’t Like Modi’s India; History Won’t Be Kind to Him: Romila Thapar

In an interview about how she views the last 75 years of India’s independence and what sort of country India has become, prominent historian Romila Thapar has said she “doesn’t like Modi’s India”. Explaining why, she said it’s too narrow and too limited. Romila Thapar says Modi’s India does not represent the fulfilment of the dreams and expectations she had in 1947 when she was a 15-year-old who was terribly excited by independence. Speaking as a historian about how history is likely to remember Narendra Modi, she made it clear that it is unlikely to be kind to him. He may be a colossus, but history finds that all colossi have cracked feet.

In a 42-minute interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire, which is part of a continuing series of interviews about India at 75, Romila Thapar also said that India’s middle class is letting down the country. She says it’s not sufficiently loyal to the idea of India. The interview begins with Romila Thapar explaining what independence meant to a young 15-year-old in 1947. She speaks of her dreams and expectations which she illustrates with personal anecdotes from her life. These anecdotes also explain the strengths and qualities that allowed India to defy doubters who were prophesying that it would not survive as a united country. Romila Thapar says Nehru laid the foundations of India which have kept us going. She describes the Nehruvian India she knew from the age of 15 till 32. She talks about the Emergency as well as how she views the rise of Narendra Modi and his emphasis on Hindutva and Hindu nationalism.

Describing India’s ruling class as people who have largely worked in their own interests, Romila Thapar says that India has not adequately handled the two great challenges it faced in 1947 – of caste and poverty. Romila Thapar speaks at length about attempts to re-write Indian history and to view the period from 1200 to 1800 in terms of religion and a Hindu-Muslim divide. Watch this section for yourself to understand it fully. It explains why the new interpretation of history in terms of religion and a Hindu-Muslim divide is mistaken and amounts not just to distortion but untruth.

This interview of Romila Thapar with Karan Thapar for The Wire is the latest in a series of select interviews to mark the 75th anniversary of Independence and explore what this anniversary means. As part of the series, Shashi Tharoor and Hamid Ansari have already been interviewed. Interviews of former BJP Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta and the well-known historian Ramachandra Guha will follow.

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