Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rough draft of history?

The latest issue of India Today is a 34-year look-back since the magazine came into being. Each year gets a page worth of recap for a major story and “The Main Event” – an excerpt from India Today’s contemporary writing on the big news of the year. While the choice of major stories and “The Main Event” can be debated, what caught my eye was the juvenile attempt at obfuscating its own contemporary timidity. The “Main Event” excerpt for 1976 is the magazine’s denouncement of forced sterilizations carried out in that year – but is taken from the May 31, 1977 issue (i.e. once the political climate had swung completely). The 1975 excerpt (from the December 15, 1975 issue) characterizes the Emergency declaration as a “swift and silent constitutional step”.

One would think that India Today has enough confidence now to look at its past honestly. Doesn’t seem like it – hopefully it will get there in the next 34 years. For what use are these contemporary historians if they can’t even reflect on their documented conduct honestly.