I started writing this as a response to a comment that December Stud had made. Since it became a much bigger piece, I decided to make it a separate post.
December Stud (DS in the piece below),
You've agreed throughout in your comment with whatever Chi.Mu and NSL said.But in the end you ask the question, "why the controversy?". This is basically coming back to square one. I agree that Shankaramurthy might have done it just to polarise society and get votes and so on. But there are other internal and important issues. Since it has been raised now, it is better to beat it to death completely so that it can never raise its head again.
Do you believe it is OK if a text book hails Tipu Sultan as a hero just because the government believes that calling him a hero will appease minorities which will then lead to communal harmony? You've already shown that you agree that Tipu has committed those atrocities. So, at the very best, Tipu is a gray character more on the darker side than a pearly white all-good side. I think most detached observers will agree with this characterization.
Now, do you think that relationships between communities can be based on deception and lies? In other words, should it be "forgive and forget" (implying knowledge of atrocities and then consciously acknowledge it and ask for forgiveness - just as America has done with Native Americans) or "deny and maintain status quo" (Politicians starting from Gandhi and Nehru have gone the minority appeasement route and they just managed to create Pakistan and the Babri Masjid demolition controversy)? If "forgive and forget" had really been used, so many people probably would not have been killed and this unnecessary tension between the two communities might not have existed.
If the truth of the matter that Tipu was a dark gray character is acknowledged, history would have played its role of conveying the truth well. History, as I see it, has its value mainly in showing us the good and bad of the past so that we in the present can learn from them.
If people also acknowledge that he destroyed 8000 temples and converted thousands of people to Islam by the sword - but also gave a pittance of a dENige (done when Tipu was mentally fragile) to Shringeri and Nanjanagud and even ShrIrangapaTTaNa - what should Tipu be seen as? In light of the letters that Tipu wrote to the Sultans of Afghanistan and the inscription on his sword, you tell me what Tipu should be seen as. Objectively.
Lot of people have this thought in the corner of their minds that to be objective, one must support both Hindus and Muslims and that is why, DS, you probably did that (still :)) thing in your comment. But in this case, an objective - not saffron or green colored - view will still lead you or any one to see that Tipu was a bigot. Now, being a bigot might be fine from a Muslim perspective - which is the main problem - as Tipu did whatever his Holy Quran told him. But an objective consideration will lead you just to this. But let's not go there for now.
If this fact of Tipu's bigotry is wilfully suppressed and children are taught something else (a la glorious romantic novels from Bhagwan Gidwani) to subserve an ideology or a mistaken notion that appeasement leads to the common good, I feel that the Government is doing something dangerous. Instead of releasing the pent-up pressure in a pressure cooker, people are just trying to be indifferent to it. A little more time and it just might just explode causing a lot of harm to everybody, concerned or not. This resentment of the other community is exactly that. Acknowledge its existence and the root cause for it and try to alleviate it. Denying that the problem exists is just like the ostrich putting its head in the sand. Systematic indifference from the government is the cause for all the Hindu-Muslim clashes happening now.
If this is done, actually the BJP will suffer in the polls as it will have no plank to stand on. So far, it has used only Ramjanmabhumi and the image of Hindus as victims and images of glorious Hindu past (very similar to the Muslim League's pitch to Muslims) to garner votes. If everybody is educated, then politics will become issue-based and not caste/religion based which will be quite a welcome change for India. Shrewd politicians across the political spectrum (the Communists, the Congress and the BJP) have foreseen this problem and it appears that they want to keep the flame of hate burning to provide heat for themselves.
Otherwise the country might just become prosperous! And politicians will be given no easy plank to stand on! Of these, the people with the most simplistic and stupidest ideology are the Left and they are the ones who back the Islamists to the hilt also. These guys have the unique ability to see the world only in terms of the oppressors and the oppressed. And they use this perverse perspective everywhere. It is they who want to rewrite all history in that light (or should I say darkness?). Also, communism is the one ideology that thrives only in strife and poverty. So it is they who really want to keep the country poor and illiterate to serve their own selfish needs.
In my opinion, educating people about the truth is what is necessary and this is always better than any stupid revolution. What is happening now is precisely the opposite and that is why VijayaKarnataka (in spite of its being bought over by the Times of India group) should be commended for trying to bring this to light and educating the public.
Thank you for the thought-provoking comments.