The first attempt to change an Islamic nomenclature in independent India came soon after Partition. It was not in a UP town, not by the Jana Sangh or Hindu Mahasabha, but in the country’s capital, at a place considered to be the icon of liberal values, when Modern School, Barakhambha Road, renamed its Akbar House as Subhash House. It was still the India of Gandhi and Nehru, but perhaps only one teacher at the elite school expressed his dissatisfaction.
But that was an aberration. While a Delhi school changed a name, India didn’t reject its past. Akbar was included in the pantheon of the greatest Indian rulers, as over the following decades the most influential section of Indian historiography, supported and funded by successive governments, offered sufficient space to Islamic rulers. Marking a reversal, the BJP now wants to rewrite history from “Bharat’s perspective” that doesn’t gloss over the “atrocities” committed by Muslim rulers.