Review of Swaraj by Shekhar Gupta: A misplaced critique

Review of Swaraj by Shekhar Gupta: A misplaced critique

his critique of Swaraj by Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party by Shekhar Gupta (SG) of Indian Express centres around what historical source is more accurate in providing historical “facts”. The following quote from the article reflects Shekhar’s core problem with Arvind’s historically inspired solutions from ancient India.
“But learning ancient Indian history from Chandamama or Amar Chitra Katha (Swaraj even has sketches) is even more perilous than knowing Mughal history from watching Jodha Akbar. Particularly for grown-ups”

My critique of Shekhar, Arvind and many others including those on the center right of the Indian political spectrum is the relevance of this method. In other words, I accuse them of being too “stuck in the past”, rather too “stuck in thinking the past is relevant” given the tectonic shifts in social,political and economic structures of our society from ancient times. Yes it may be instructive to learn from certain mistakes/experiences of the past. But in romanticizing how functional ancient India was, it is very dangerous to draw on that romanticism to provide solutions for modern India. Wish SG had at pointed that out as the main problem, than questioning Arvind’s sources for stating his philosophy.

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India as perceived by an outsider, 4 centuries ago!

(I had originally released this as a Facebook note..Apologies if  you have already read it)

I was quite impressed with an article about Babur recently in the Economist. Ah the eclectic nature of that magazine ( I mean, ‘newspaper’) continues to impress me.

Back to the article,  I quote :  “Babur stayed in Delhi to consolidate his power, but he hated India. His list of complaints offers a good indication of the things that mattered to a 16th-century emperor:  

Hindustan is a country of few charms. There are no good-looking people, there is no social intercourse, no receiving or paying of visits, no genius or manners. In its handicrafts there is no form or symmetry, method or quality. There are no good horses, no good dogs, no grapes, musk-melons or first-rate fruits, no ice or cold water, no good bread or food cooked in the bazaars, no hot baths, no colleges, no candles, torches or candlesticks. ”                                                      

I wonder that the specific nature of complaints may have changed. But at a more general level , reading this in the 21st century , on average, can I conclude that he was (is) not off the mark at all?