To a historian is granted a gift that even the gods are denied - to alter what has already happened!

Though the saying is scornful but worthy of generalization as it spares the audience from useless wobbling by pointing to a historian’s tendency to alteration, misinformation, exaggeration and concoction, depending upon his nature’s ideological linings.

 A historian like Irving would direct his paraphernalia of narration to manufacture consent for Hitler because he was an ardent admirer of the Nazi leader. After portraying Hitler as the nationalist leader of a very high order, he moves on to purge him off Holocaust by an outright denial in his book, Hitler’s War. In the aftermath, he was deported from Austria and barred entry three times from Australia. Critics like Lippstadt lambasted him with virtually invective entitlements like “neofascist“.

Apropos to this was the wrath of the Jews – justified wrath. In addition to the rich primitive-cum-modern history and culture, the Holocaust, with its symbols and images--- sufferings, dance and films---depicting merriment after being purged of the sufferings, became an accoutrement of the Jewish culture. And Irving dared to rob them of this sub-culture with little to no facts corroborating it. Histories and cultures are identities of nations. And identity determines the existence of nations. So Irving’s denial, in a very sublime way, was a threat to Jews as a community somehow.

 Unlike Irving, who is free from the clash of appearance and realty, stands tall with his hard-core and straight-forward belief in the myth, according to him, of Holocaust, novelist-cum-historian Joseph Conrad, with his Heart of Darkness, a novella narrating African, in general, and Congo’s, in particular, cultural and social records of their existence under British imperialism. He railed at the European government because of their drive to imperialize the world. The point which is driven home in the lashings is that the white man is suffering in hostile and unintelligible world of savage Africans. First transmogrifying the blacks into “shadows” and “colors”, Conrad stretched himself to the hilt to strip the Negros off language.

This stereotype became so prevalent that containment became impossible for some time. Even Africans themselves became insured with this depiction of Conrad. Once again, a historian had been kept hostage to his bias. Savage Africans awaited messiah to tear the image into smithereens, made viral by Conrad with his cohort. It took years for the messiah to come on limelight and he was nothing else but Chinua Achebe with his novel, as a counter-narrative to Heart of Darkness, Things Fall Apart.

Here, African are portrayed as not  having “voices” and “grunts” but stylistically perfect language which is having excessive use of proverbs integral to it. Contrary to “shadows” they are humans with colorful dresses. While refuting much-hyped barbarity of his fellow men, Achebe praises for their civic and religious earnestness. Achebe sums up the motive behind Conrad’s conscious assaults on African culture, in other words, their identity, and their existence;

   “Quite simply it is the desire – one might indeed say the need – in Western psychology to set Africa up as a foil to Europe, as a place of negations at once remote and vaguely familiar, in comparison with which Europe’s own state of spiritual grace will be manifest.”

Following the imprints of Conrad in terms of misrepresentation of culture and history and personifying the binary of the person of Conrad in aboriginal cultures and histories handling, is the prominent historical figure of contemporary era: Doctor Mubarak Ali. To justify the above thesis statement, his column” When the Empire Crumbled” would suffice as a reference.

Mubarak, throughout the article, tried to make the point that the Mughal Empire started to crumbl after the demise of Akbar, mainly because of Hindu-Muslim disputes. The sole architects of these disputes were people like Shah Waliullah. I say “no” to these points by professing that they remained true to their ages old culture and practices.

The Mughals with their subjects, non-Muslims included, crumbled not because of Hindu-Muslim disunity but fell prey to the British because of their incognizance with corporate mentality of “give and take”. The East India Company postured as “protectors” of the Mughal King and the king bought the pledge without any dithering, following the zeitgeist of the age set by Hindus - loyalty to the king.

Ages old tradition of prestation was intact and materialized to the fullest: Gold coins called” nazar” were given to the Mughal and the Mughal was bound to reciprocate those coins and other material with clothes and ornaments called Khelat. Most importantly, it was not reckoned as a mere act of taxation rather an act of incorporation. This incorporation, according to F. W. Buckler, rests on the idea that the king stands for a 'system of rule of which he is the incarnation ... incorporating into his body ... the persons of those who share his rule’ These norms are not practiced in systems that have lost their vitality and internal unity.

 To paraphrase Dr Mubarak, the Mughal Emperor’s influence crumbled even before the crumbling of the Mughal Empire. Bernard S Cohn writes in his essay, Representing Authority in Victorian India,” Lord Wellesley, governor general, suggested to offer Mughal every demonstration of reverence and nominal authority”. The backbone behind this was the maintenance of normalcy. Inefficient rulers and abysmal administrators are not lent continuity to rein in disgruntled masses, a point to be kept in mind.

 Once again, opposing to Mubarak’s, it was not Shah Waliullah who cracked the unity of India.  Muslim and Hindu ties through remained impregnable notwithstanding trivial disputes here and there. Cohn writes, “Ellenborough, Governor General, conceived of symbolizing the defeat of Muslims in Afghanistan by bringing back what were thought to be the Gates of Somnath”. This was the level of unity that it forced the British to bring back revisionist history to break it or crack it.

Coins of the East India Company until 1835 and of many states until 1859-60 were continued to be minted with the regnal year of Mughal emperor on them, because the British perceived abrupt re-vamping detrimental to their machinations, as it would strip the natives of their pride – their well-entrenched and firmly-fettered pride.   

From all the above analysis, it has become cleared that the Mughals quite effectively handled their Empire with one Achilles heel of envisioning the British impersonating Hindu stalwartness for them and the ignorance of capitalist mentality.

I would rather conclude it quite abruptly by saying that where there are Conrads there have to be Achebes, resurrecting historical and cultural identities of their nations.