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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 6 New Delhi January 26, 2019 - Republic Day Special

The Third Battle of Panipat: Let us examine its True Impact dispassionately

Monday 28 January 2019

by Basudev Mazumdar

BJP President Amit Shah has again got his history wrong. While inaugurating the BJP’s national convention recently on January 11, 2019 in New Delhi for giving a push to poll preparedness, he compared the ensuing Lok Sabha election with the third Panipat battle of 1761 AD (January 14, 1761) when the Peshwa regime was vanquished by the Afghan ruler, Ahmad Shah Abdali. He said that the defeat led to a slavery of 200 years. People should not forget that and make similar mistakes by not voting the BJP. These were faithfully reported by all the mainstream newspapers like The Indian Express (IE), The Times of India (ToI) etc. on January 12, 2019. [Ref: ‘LS polls like Panipat battle, loss can lead to slavery’, IE, 12-1-19. ‘Shah likens LS polls 2019 to Panipat 1761’, ToI, 12-1-2019]

Let us examine the BJP President’s comment. Firstly, these events are absolutely of different degrees. There cannot be any comparison. 1761’s was an epoch-making phenomenon which changed the course of Indian history. But LS polls keep on coming every five years, the government may or may not change but there is hardly anything beyond. These are routine changes.

   Secondly, Shah was wrong in gauging the depth of the positive socio-political impact. He must recognise that the defeat, instead, was a great boon for India as the utterly casteist, discriminating and wicked regime of the Brahmin Peshwas in Maharashtra was almost eliminated paving the way for a more enlightened British rule. The evil power was finally crushed in the Third Anglo-Peshwa war in 1818 at Bhima-Koregaon near Pune. With these defeats, the ‘Peshwa’ title was abolished, the downtrodden got a bit of freedom from slavery and torture of the earlier cruel desi rulers. Their life began changing. Modernity gradually started and in due course India became one single unit under one rule of the British. We, as a nation, reaped immense benefit as a result during their rule and even at the time of their departure.

Well, I understand that for a caste Hindu or Brahmin and traditional beneficiaries of our vile caste system, it is difficult to appreciate this aspect. Because in the new regime that followed, their traditional privileges, power and authorities were curtailed, education became universal, ordinary folks, who the other day were reeling under caste slavery, became aware of their rights with access to education. Our historians (mostly caste Hindus), too, hardly highlight this side. This makes our history one-sided and incomplete. This necessitates a further study of the past in an unbiased manner.

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