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Thursday, Oct 21, 2021
Outlook.com

A Riot Of Commemorating

The mutiny as seen through literature, folksong, missives and a canonical episode

A Riot Of Commemorating
A Riot Of Commemorating
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

All nations, old and new, claim their antiquity in their own ways. Nation-states—Firangi, Francisi, Amriki, or our own—find it impossible to recollect without commemorating. As national markers, commemorations allow for the passage of identity-bearing citizens through hallowed time. During such hooplas, both the Republic and the public make demands for historical ‘item numbers’.

But how does one convey the tumult that was 1857: mutiny and insurgency, plebeian disorder and state terror, atavistic proclamations and radical stirrings, within the contours of the India of today? How does one narrate the ‘Ghadar’, when the voice of the native rebel (of sundry accents) has been strangled into oblivion? Till very recently, most accounts of 1857, both learned and popular, have not been too bothered by the paucity of ‘native sources’. The records of the past—as also in the present—are generated and kept by victors, or rulers, even if we elect them ourselves.

Rebellion 1857,...

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