Who should write history?

Amal Chatterjee
7 min readApr 8, 2023

Source: Google photo of who should write the history

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Synopsis: We learn about our past in the history books and are influenced by what we learn. We tend to believe what we read but it has been proven many times that the historians were often biased in favor of the ones who ordered them to write about them. This blog looks at the reason why the historians often distort the history if only to save their necks. But in the modern age, people want to read the true history of their past written without bias and prejudice. We cannot appreciate the sacrifices made by our heroes unless their stories are told truthfully by the historians.

During our school days, we were taught the history of our country and in some cases, the history of the world to tell us about our past, our struggle for independence, our struggle for equality and justice and our success and failures. The history is taught to make us proud of our country and instill in us a sense of obligation to learn from our history and to not repeat the mistakes our ancestors made.

But, if the mistakes of our ancestors were not vilified but written in glorious terms in our history books, then what lessons can we learn? What really it all comes down to is “who writes the history”?

Once Richard Nixon was praised for his initiative to make diplomatic contact with the communist China of Mao that led to the recognition and the development of trade links with China which indeed was one of the highlights of his administration, but Nixon was very modest. When his secretary said that his contribution will be recorded in the history books, he replied with some degree of cynicism that it will depend on who writes the history.

People tend to forget that it was Nixon who brought the Vietnam war to an end and brought back the American soldiers home but remember his resignation in disgrace after the Watergate scandal that pursued him until his last days. It left a lasting stain on his presidency that is well recorded in the history books, but he did achieve what no previous president could do namely to bring a very unpopular war in Vietnam to an end and open up China for trade.

So, it all depends on who writes the history. We know that the blood thirsty monsters like Genghis Khan, Taimur the lame, Khilji, Ghori who were responsible for massacres of innocent people to satisfy their ambition to rule the world using brutal means are glorified in the countries of their origin even today where they are known as their heroes. Alexander killed people and devastated their countries just so that he could claim that he conquered the world but at what cost and why?

If you go to Ulan Bataar, you will see a massive statue of Genghis Khan who is their hero, but the history books condemn him as the marauder who soaked the soil of Central Asia with the blood of innocent people who never wanted war. Similarly, you will see a massive statue of Taimur the lame also called Tamerlane in his native country of Uzbekistan where he is still touted as their hero, but they ignore the fact that he killed thousands of people in India who had meant no harm to him.

Source: Google photo of the statue of Genghis Khan in Mongolia

History books record that the entire population of Nishapur in ancient Persia was decapitated by the order of Genghis Khan who took revenge on the hapless population because someone there had killed his son in law. They made a pyramid out of the severed heads of men, women and even children and razed the city to the ground to avenge the murder of one man.

Source: Google photo of Tamerlane statue in Samarkand.

The armies of this tyrant were responsible for the deaths of perhaps 17 million people. These were murders committed with sword or fire.

(Read my blog here called Unsung heroine Ram Pyari who fought Taimur the lame, injured him and made him leave India in defeat)

The history books are filled with the tyrants like Alexander, Genghis Khan and Taimur because the victors told their scribes to glorify them so that is what they did because writing the truth would have been very bad for their health, if you know what I mean.

Source: Google painting of Alexander who caused untold number of deaths and was called the great by the Western historians but not by his victims.

Alexander wanted to claim the entire known world of his time and even cried that no more kingdoms were left for him to conquer. His empire was built on the bodies of the people his army butchered that devastated the entire population of many countries he invaded but he is stilled called Alexander the great by the western historians who glamorize his victories over hapless people who meant him no harm.

Source: Google photo of a painting of Babur who came to India to loot, kill and Islamize the population and lay the foundation of Moghul rule in 1505 that lasted until 1857.

In the past, the history books in India paid more attention to the looters, invaders like the Moghuls, later the British and the post-Independence hegemony of one particular party that ruled India for decades. It fails to mention the sacrifices of millions of people like Rampyari who died for the Independence but glorifies those who had little to do with the Independence of India even today.

The national hero of India Netaji Subash Chandra Bose who brought Independence has only recently been recognized and his life size statue is placed near the India Gate in New Delhi. His contribution to expel British through armed struggle was ignored by the ruling party of Congress that labeled him as a war criminal, but people of India knew the truth, so the history books are being rewritten to reflect how great Netaji Bose was and how he sacrificed his life for India.

So, the time has come to tell the truth to the people because it can no longer be suppressed in the history books.

Source: Google photo of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose statue recently unveiled in New Delhi overlooking the India Gate.

A great historian of India who was very critical of Nehru in his books was dismissed from his job as the Director general of the All India Radio and was exiled to England where he died but such punishment was common in the past when the truth was suppressed, and the historians were punished.

We now have come to the era of instant trans-missal of texts, photos and even videos because of the spread of the Internet so it has become increasingly difficult to suppress the truth. It spreads like wildfire without restraint, but it also spreads fake news just as fast before it is taken down. One can go to the page of Wikipedia on any subject and add to what is published there citing of course source and legitimately valid information.

This is a recent phenomenon that has encouraged many intellectuals to write and publish articles through the Internet and spread it worldwide instantly. The writing and its subsequent publication come with the responsibility of being authentic, original and truthful but some people take the short cut of plagiarism, so they tend to use the copy and paste option. However, such people are found out and their articles are taken down.

The history of our past is important if it is truthfully recorded. It gives us the information that we need to become knowledgeable and feel our connection to the past. It gives us the chance to know who the heroes were and who the villains. It teaches us about the great people who sacrificed their lives so that we could be free. It also teaches us who were the invaders, looters and the traitors who caused harm to our country, our heritage and our dignity.

So, history should be written by the honest people without bias, without prejudices and without fear. The truth shall always win.

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Originally published at http://aumolc.wordpress.com on April 8, 2023.