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Raking Up Old Wounds...
|by Ananya S Guha|
The British Prime Minister David Cameron has apologized indirectly about the Jallianwala Bagh episode in 1919. Were we waiting for it, as one of the newspapers gleefully reported Mr Cameron's expiation? Is this a very newsworthy thing to report or are we still shackled by colonialist stance, or is our response a post modern, read post colonial triumph?
The tragedy took place almost a century back. To talk about it now is not to heal wounds, but rake them. Do we need apologies now? Do we need consolation now? On the one hand it is an ostensible gentlemany gesture, on the other it is not necessary and needless. And one of the leading newspapers reporting it as a headline is humbug. This is as if that amends have been made, the wrong has been corrected. Historical wrongs can be treated at best as aberrations, but they cannot be corrected. If this was a wrong, then the entire colonial phase was also wrong.
If this episode has been selectively mentioned as something that was overtly wrong, then the British imperialism is justified, that is to say: our rule was alright, but this was a blemish in our history of colonial rule in India. Post modernists who glibly use this expression, like post colonialism could do some research on this extravaganza, and find out what exactly the British Prime Minister was seeking to do! If he had apologized for the imperialistic take off and take over in India, then it might have made a little more sense. But to isolate it and single out the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy is to add salt to the wounds, in my percetion of things.
History may or may not be repeated. But sordid histories need not be recollected, especially if a dignitary is making a courtesy visit. Telling journalists, that this was a shameful act is truism. We all know it, and how the massacre took place. If at all an apology had to come, it should have come then, but at that time British imperialism was besotted with power.
And, again our newspapers seem to be so happy at these remarks. We don't want apologies, we wanted condemnation, but did not get it at the correct juncture. The event has now passed into the annals of history, and the wrongs done there cannot be righted, so let's not make effete attempts at self discovery.
Let us look at the present and bilateral relationships between the two countries. Raking up the Bagh incident is like excavating old wounds. We want to forget them. Why remind us?
British Prime Minister Sir, I think you were a wee bit impolitic!
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