Truth?Or Lies?

One of my favorite ways to pass time is to go over to the TED app on my iPad and watch speech after speech.Today I stumbled across this speech by this courageous woman who fled from North Korea.This post however is not on her escape neither on the problems of North Korea.The first minute of her speech got me thinking about an entirely different topic.On how where we are brought up and what we read in our books or rather what is fed to us through them determines what we think about historical events or personalities.

Somehow I started thinking about Operation Bluestar.With two sentences, the lady had made me doubt my Political Science book. I don’t think that this incident was written in a blatantly pro-government, or pro-Indira Gandhi way in my textbook, but was it tilted towards supporting Indira Gandhi’s Operation? Did my textbook gloss over the torture and killings of the Sikhs? Have I learned about the political history of my country from a very biased point of view?

I remember reading how history is always written from the point of view of the victors. I have always been aware that the history of the same place, same incident, written by two different people or two different governments, will probably be very different. I have always known that the Pakistani textbooks talk about the Partition in a different way than the Indian textbooks. But this impersonal knowledge had never struck home. I had never made the connection that the things I studied in school, what I was taught, might be biased and inaccurate. What in the history of my country has been deliberately left out of the school textbooks and what deliberately written wrong? How much of the true happenings do I really know?
We’re all so used to hearing only about the good in Gandhiji and Nehru; when have we ever heard about the bad?

Isn’t it time we stop glossing over the uncomfortable truths of our history?


13 thoughts on “Truth?Or Lies?

  1. There is no real end to finding the truth about history…can we be sure about the authenticity of The Epics ? How about the Holy books ? I suppose, we must, as people be able to discern the right from the wrong and leave it at that !

  2. You know what? I have always felt like that, but I have never been courageous enough to speak it out even to my own friends. We, humans like to live in a world where every thing lingers within our comfort zone. We feed our conscience with rotten lies.

  3. What an exciting question to arrive at specially for an engineering student (I know you guys have a heavy technical syllabus to cope with)!!To add my two cents, historiography is rife with this debate and I am sure you will find very very stimulating exchanges between historians about precisely these questions. Feel so tempted to suggest to you some readings from the Subaltern Historians group whose end seems close in sight. You may also start with E.H. Carr’s classic essay “What is History”….a brief and a very important text. I know it would be difficult for you to find time for these readings…still…whenever you have time, please do have a look. Would love to hear from you about them!!


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