Social Scientist. v 29, no. 332-333 (Jan-Feb 2001) p. 16.


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IQTIDAR ALAM KHAN*

State in the Mughal India:

Re-examining the Myths of a Counter-vision*

Modern writings analysing the nature and character of the Mughal Empire and the imprint it has left on Indian society and culture are rightly perceived as having diverse lineages.1 Many of them have a liberal-nationalist orientation and belong to the decades before independence, and to the early years of Independence. These are represented by research monographs, general histories as well as occasional essays by a large number of authors ranging from professional historians like Jadunath Sarkar, R,P.Tripathi, Tara Chand, Ishwari Parsad, P. Saran, Ibne Hasan and Mohammad Mujeeb, to political commentators and essayists like Jawaharlal Nehru and Humayun Kabir. Aspects of Mughal rule, such as supra-religious norms of governance, composite culture of the ruling elite and suppression of local sovereignties leading to political unification, are emphasised, to one or the other degree, in the writings of each one of these authors. They together delineate the contours of the standard characterization of the Mughal Empire in the broad framework of liberal nationalism pervading the then intellectual climate of the country. This characterization also permeated the standard history text-books in India till recetly. It is possible to argue that, besides being influenced by the Freedom Movement's urge for communal amity and political unification, this characterization also reflects the images of the Mughal political system and its cultural symbols furnished in the Persian and Urdu literary writings of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.2

A perceptible tendency, during the fifties and sixties of the twentieth century, on the part of a number of scholars, S. Nurul Hasan, Satish Chandra, Tapan Raychaudhuri and Irfan Habib, being more

* Formerly professor at Centre For Advanced Study in History, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh

Social Scientist, Vol. 30, Nos. 1 - 2, Jan.-Feb. 2001



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