I would have taken great offence if I had been informed, when I was in school, that the history I was being taught then was sugar-coated to the extent of killing a diabetic patient. While skipping irrelevant details is acceptable and, in certain cases, required, altering history to the point of causing delusion is both disgusting and shameful.
As an example, we all know the tragedy of Jalianwala Bagh by heart, and have grown up to hate Dyer. However, most high-school history books will leave out the details of the Siege Of Cawnpore and more importantly, the heinous Bibighar Massacre. Few high-school history books mention that the street in Amritsar where Indians were supposed to crawl on their bellies was the same one where some Indians had, earlier, beaten an European lady to death after pulling her off her cycle. And she was not the only European beaten to death. What Dyer did was immoral, cowardly and wrong – Churchill would try his level best to ensure that Dyer was punished some time later. However, he was born and raised in India and had seen the mutiny of 1857; it is not very difficult to understand why he assumed the Indian mob which had already killed a few Europeans would soon exponentiate to another mass-murder of his own countrymen.
No one talks about Gandhi’s racist views in South Africa. No one talks about how Gandhi never wanted to erase the race line, but simply wanted “British Indians” to be moved its other side – the side with the educated English as opposed to the one with the “native blacks”. No one talks about how, in South Africa, Satyagraha failed, movement after movement. Indian biographers, it seems, have a habit of omitting things that shed a dark light on our beloved Bapu. What they don’t understand is that these real details only make the father of our nation easier to follow, they only help us appreciate how everything is not black and white and teach us that no mistake is incorrigible.
Perhaps this is why we’re so backward. Perhaps this is why India fails to make progress. We are a blind, deluded, superstitious lot who fail to see what is apparent and believe only what is convenient. Maybe this will change someday, a day I will hopefully live to see.