Hamid Ansari: 'You can draw lessons from history… but can't change it'
Former Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari Sunday said there were attempts to rewrite history and that such efforts will not succeed. Speaking at the launch of the book, Jawaharlal Nehru: An Illustrated Biography, Ansari recalled one of H G Wells’s best selling work, The Time Machine, and said, “idea behind that book was that there would be a form of technology by which you could go back to visit what might have happened in the past”.
He added, “today, I notice another set of inventors — not writers… — trying to create a time machine by which you can go back in history and rewrite history. Now, such an effort is not going to succeed”.
Ansari said “history is history. It has to be read. You can draw lessons from it, you can draw encouragement from it, or you can just read it as a college student preparing for term examinations. History cannot be changed”.
The book was launched by former President Pranab Mukherjee in the presence of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Ansari said the book, which has been edited by A Gopanna, a senior Congress leader from Tamil Nadu, is a “valuable” and “relevant contribution to our own legacy, our own freedom struggle, the great leaders who guided it and the different phases of modern India that we have been through”.
Mukherjee while presenting a copy of the book to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lauded Nehru’s contributions in the making of a modern India. “History of modern India is closely associated with a few personalities, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is one of them,” he said.
This is not because Nehru was the first PM, but “because he is truly the architect… of modern, democratic… India,” Mukherjee said, adding, “but for him… India would have gone the way in which many other neo-liberated countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America went”. Nehru “built up all the necessary institutions to support the democratic structure of India,” he pointed out.
The former President stressed that Nehru was a “great democrat” and that “it was possible for him to say that I don’t want to have an India where millions will say yes to a man…”
A message from UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi was read out during the event. “At a time when there are increasing attempts to denigrate Panditji and erase his crucial role in building a modern, democratic and secular republic, this book is all the more valuable,” the message read.