History is an important branch of social sciences, the study of which is important in many respects. The cultural heritage of our past makes us proud and arouses a feeling of attachment towards our past providing a link for continuity with change. It is also said that those who cannot remember the past are also condemned to repeat it. Two examples in independent India make us realize that history is being used as a tool not to learn from the past but to repeat the mistakes of the past with an intention to avenge.
The two examples that I am speaking about are Babri mosque demolition or Ram Janmabhoomi case and the idea of positive discrimination through reservations. The rationale behind demolishing Babri masjid was that the mosque was being built by razing a Hindu temple in the past. It could be true but does that mean that you should undo everything that was done in the past. In fact, most of the muslims in India might have taken up Islam because of the influence of the rulers who ruled them. The same holds true of the Christians in Kerala. If we intend to undo our past, then it means that we have to wage a war against United Kingdom as a revenge against Jallianwalabagh massacre and many such incidents that happened during the British rule. The point that I am trying to make here is that the past is past and its use is only informative in nature so that we can take care not to make the mistakes done in the past. What is discomforting is the fact the Supreme court of India lent credence to this theory of undoing the past by asking for an excavation from the Archaeological Survey of India to ascertain if a Ram temple did exist on the controversial site.
One of the reasons provided for positive discrimination is that the ‘Upper Castes’ in the past exploited the ‘Lower Castes’. I totally agree with this and some sort of this upper class hegemony still exists. I have seen certain temples where these upper castes are served food separately even today (purity in the kitchen and no purity at heart). It is a different matter that between the upper and lower castes, middle castes like mine are treated on par with the upper castes as far as reservations are concerned. Laws that prohibit untouchability and caste system, etc are very much welcome but reservations based on a basis like caste will again create inequalities. This is what is meant by repeating the past mistakes. Instead of learning from the mistakes, we are repeating them with a hope to invert the caste hierarchy. The downtrodden castes of the past will occupy the apex in this new hierarchy and the upper classes of the past will become the downtrodden castes or classes of the future. The idea of positive discrimination should have been to create an egalitarian society without any hierarchy and having non racial/ non caste basis like economic condition, cultural condition, etc will actually help in creating such egalitarian society.