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Meenakshi Jain is an Indian political scientist and historian.
- Indian Marxists, notwithstanding their claims to originality, have always been faithful followers of Western intellectual trends, often long after these were dated in the west. Thus, well after Western academics expounded upon European feudalism, Indian Marxists continue to search for point-by-point parallels between post-Gupta India and the West. Similarly the once-in-vogue notion of 'imagined' communities continues to bewitch our Marxist brethren who remain committed to fitting the history of the subcontinent to this maxim. Only the western rethinking on old patriotisms underpinning the new nationalisms has yet to win the allegiance of Indian Marxists.
- Review of Romila Thapar's "Somanatha, The Many Voices of a History" by Meenakshi Jain, in The Pioneer 21st March 2004
- Notwithstanding this politico-cultural reality, early Indian nationalists sought to inculcate a spirit of inclusivity and accommodation into the emergent socio-political discourse. As the freedom movement developed however, the Muslim League articulated an ideology committed wholly to its Islamic fountainhead and stressed the need to maintain the community’s political dominance in the country. The League’s refusal or failure to come to terms with the forces of modernization ushered in by the British further pushed it on a trajectory away from the national mainstream.
- "Power Equations in Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century India: the Empirical Backdrop to Nationalism", International Forum for India's Heritage, 2003.
Rama and Ayodhya
- It is indisputable that the Ramjanmabhumi/Babri Masjid debate has bee dominated by a handful of historians from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), with stray participation of one or two other universities. The historians involved have been of Marxist orientation, some admittedly even card-holding members of the two Communist parties, the CPI and CPM. Their writings on the issue have appeared in the official publications of these parties--New Age and People's Democracy respectively, and also been published by Left-sponsored publishing groups like People's Publishing House, Sahmat and Tulika Books. Perhaps that could explain why their stance has often seemed more driven by ideology than academic deliberation. Yet, some of these academics, who even appeared as BMAC (Babri Masjid Action Committee) experts during negotiations between the VHP, BMAC and the Government in 1990-1991, claimed to be "independent historians", and demanded that they be recognized as such. A perusal of their writings and statements reveals an unswerving resolve to deny any possibility of a temple beneath the Masjid and, thus, fixity of purpose. So they initially pronounced Rama to be a mythic figure; questioned the identification of present day Ayodhya with Valmiki's Ayodhya; touted little remembered variants of the Rama story to counter Valmiki's version; declared Ayodhya was better known as a sacred city of the Buddhists and Jains; and even ruled out the existence of a Rama cult at Ayodhya prior to the eighteenth century. The belief in a Janmabhumi temple being destroyed by Babar they attributed to British machinations in the nineteenth century. For long, Marxist historians insisted that the Babri Masjid was built on virgin land.
- Jain, Meenakshi. Rama and Ayodhya (2013, pp. 154-155)
The Battle for Rama: Case of the Temple at Ayodhya (2017)
- “No evidence whatsoever has been proffered of continued Muslim occupation Babri Masjid, while the uninterrupted presence of Hindu devotees has been attested by several sources. Babri Masjid finds no mention in the revenue records of the Nawabi and British periods, nor was any Waqf ever created for its upkeep. No Muslim filed an FIR when the image of Sri Rama was placed under the central dome on 23rd December 1949.” (p.144)
- “So why has the matter dragged on for so long? Can a handful of historians be held accountable for stalling resolution of what is essentially a settled matter? Their voluble assertions on Babri Masjid have all been found to be erroneous, yet there has been no public retraction. Are they liable for vitiating social harmony over the issue? If the nation has to move on, honest answers must be found to these questions.” (p.145)
About Meenakshi Jain
- After coming to power in 1998, the BJP-dominated government has made a half-hearted and not always very competent attempt to effect glasnost (openness, transparency) at least in the history textbooks. They ordered the writing of new history textbooks for the schools. This led the Marxists to start a furious hate campaign against the so-called “saffronization” (hinduization) of history. Most of the new textbooks have rightly been criticized for being written in poor English and riddled with errors,-- the result of both the Hindu movement's long-standing anti-intellectual prejudice and the systematic exclusion of aspiring pro-Hindu scholars from the institutions by the ruling Marxists. The one major exception, however, is precisely the volume on the Muslim conquest and rule, Medieval India (class XI) by Prof. Meenakshi Jain, an impeccable text systematically based on primary sources.
- K. Elst: Religious Cleansing of Hindus, 2004, Agni conference in The Hague, In: The Problem with Secularism by K. Elst (2007)
- What the BJP government claims to offer, what all scholarly historians want, and what is loathed by the Marxists who have dominated the cultural and educational establishment since decades, is glasnost: openness, an end to the dead hand of Marxist dogma in Indian history-writing. However, it is quite wrong to say that the Sangh Parivar takes this job “very seriously”. It took three years before relieving leading Marxists of their influential positions (Prasar Bharati, NCERT, IHC). Most of its new nominees were not up to the job, some because of ill-health (e.g. K.S. Lal and B.R. Grover, both now deceased), some because they had never functioned in an academic setting. It should not be forgotten that for decades, at least since ca. 1970 when the Marxists led by P.N. Haksar and Nurul Hasan were given a lot of effective power in this sector in return for their support to Indira Gandhi, distinctly non-Marxist young historians found their access to an academic career blocked by the Marxist hegemons. Of the new textbooks, some are impeccable and are welcomed as undeniable improvements, e.g. Meenakshi Jain’s presentation of the Muslim period, arguably the most sensitive and controversial part of the series. Some of the others, by contrast, have been criticized or ridiculed even by fair-minded observers.
- The Problem with Secularism by K. Elst
- But the BJP does not have a good record in this regard. In ca. 2002, it tried to achieve an overhaul of the history textbooks officially recommended to the Indian schools, but only managed to cover itself in ridicule. The textbook reform became a horror show of incompetence. The best of the textbooks, probably the only one up to standard, was by Dr. Meenakshi Jain, therefore also the main attractor of specious secularist criticisms, as the other textbooks were already considered as rendered harmless by ridicule.
- Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015 Ch. 17