Making HISTORY
India Today|November 30, 2020
Manan Ahmed Asif’s thoughtful study shows how history has come to be written in modern India
Mahmood Farooqui

THE LOSS OF HINDUSTAN

The Invention of India

by Manan Ahmed Asif

HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS

336 pages

In pre-colonial Persian works of different genres, India was often referred to as Hindustan, but the word Hindustan almost always existed as a compound phrase: Hindustan Jannat Nishan, or “Hindustan the sign of heaven on earth”. This Hindustan Jannat Nishan was celebrated in chronicles, histories, poetic compilations in Persian and other vernacular languages. These works extolled its climate, produce, diversity and culture. However, this Hindustan, the beloved of pre-colonial histories, has disappeared from modern Indian history writing and been replaced by the idea of India, and, more commonly in the popular imagination, as “a thousand years of Muslim tyranny and destruction”. How did this come about? In investigating this problematic idea, Manan Ahmed Asif has written a book, not just about those chronicles but also a genealogy of how history has come to be written in modern India.

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