The past”, wrote L.P. Hartley, “is a foreign country. They do things differently there”. Which leaves us free to do things differently in the present — and happily, those things include rewriting the past. Hence, three Rajasthan ministers propose to rewrite history to say that Rajput warrior Maharana Pratap won 1576’s battle of Haldighati against Mughal emperor Akbar. History books, atleast the ones which ai have read, recorded that while the Maharana was indeed valiant, the fact is, Akbar won Haldighati’s honours. But musty facts are so last-century.
After all, in the alt version, the spirit of Mohenjodaro survives and we all live in perfectly paved neighbourhoods, with covered drains crossing at 90 degrees, danced over by neighbours who look like Hrithik Roshan. This India saw no humiliating colonialism; there was only atithi devo bhava over yoga. And there was no big, bad battle of Panipat either; just some paani-puri between pals. Naturally, we never lost the Kohinoor. It’s still here, glittering away, but since India is so rich, having defeated poverty by investing in education, infrastructure and jobs, we simply can’t see it shining. Given our blinding prosperity, Aadhaar has no aadhaar; it is only to make us go idhar and udhar, so that our superb nutrition doesn’t roll into indolent fat.
That wouldn’t happen in an India where champions awe the Olympics every year. Lagaan swept the Oscars, in a happy ending that Salim-Javed, who still co-write blockbusters (their latest is Trump ki Deewar) couldn’t have written better. Having defeated all inner enemies, India rules the UNSC too, empowered by our brilliant development to tick off China — whom, of course, we defeated in 1962. No nation picks a bone with us for we win all our battles (so, now they know not to mess with India, because mainly, हमारी बातें हम ही जानें). And the ones we lose, well, we win those too. Later, if not sooner, in fact.