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Sharp resistance to Hindu majoritarian rule by India’s democratic forces has evinced a clever counter-response from scholars who support the current dispensation. Historians such as Vikram Sampath have resorted to using the politically acceptable rhetoric of democracy and decolonisation to make Hindu domination sound reasonable.

Sampath, the author of a two-volume biography of VD Savarkar, last month wrote a passionate essayurging academic historians to rescue the glories of ancient India from years of “leftist” denigration and to democratise and decolonise academic and school histories. It is an erroneous and deceptive appeal.

Democratically minded historians have already pointed out that Sampath curiously ignores the diverse, inclusive and secular content of the current history textbooks and overlooks the gradual process of democratisation that academic history has undergone since the 1970s.

It it worth examining Sampath’s analytical framework and the manner in which he deploys four key concepts to legitimise his appeal: historical wounds, democracy, decolonisation and nationalism.

Hindu-Muslim binary

Sampath’s arguments are animated by perspectives that have been regularly utilised by the proponents of Hindu majoritarian rule in India in order to give their claims a historical basis. These perspectives understand Indian history through the…

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