Justice Katju: Indians benefitted greatly during Mughal rule

Justice Markandey Katju

Justice Katju-

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

Last week, the name of the beautiful and famous Mughal Garden at Rashtrapati Bhavan (the official residence of the President of India) was changed to Amrit Udyan by India’s Central government.

The reason given was that the word ‘Mughal’ is a symbol of slavery

But were Indians slaves during Mughal rule? I submit that far from being slaves, Indians benefited greatly by rule of the Mughals, as India witnessed unprecedented economic prosperity during this time, and it contributed to about 25% of the world’s GDP and trade, making it one of the richest countries in the world.

It is alleged by some that (1) the Mughals were foreigners, not Indians, and (2) their aim was to loot India.

As regards the first, it must be pointed out that though Babur invaded India in 1526 as a foreigner, his grandson Akbar was very much an Indian, as he was born in India, and lived all his life here.

Realising that India is a country of great diversity, he gave equal respect to all people here, whether Hindus, Muslims, Christians, etc, and declared his policy of suleh-e-kul, or universal toleration of all religions at a time when Europeans were massacring each other in the name of religion.

As regards the second, I have already pointed out above that far from looting India, the country had unprecedented economic prosperity during Mughal rule, and this prosperity was enjoyed by all Indians, including Hindus, and not limited to Muslims.

The real objection is that the Mughals were Muslims, and it is hatred for Muslims which fuels the ruling political party in India, and which has brought it to power.

That is why it is claimed that India became free in 1947 after a thousand years of slavery. But is that assertion true?

I submit it is untrue for the period when India was under Mughal rule (or even the earlier Sultanate rule), it is true only for the period when India was under British rule, during which huge wealth was taken away from India to England.

Our massive handicraft industry almost totally destroyed, and the people working in it made destitute. Our share in world trade reduced from 25% during Mughal rule, to just 2% at the end of British rule.

Thus, the real reason for changing the name of Mughal Gardens, like changing the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj; Mughalsarai Junction to Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Junction; Faizabad to Ayodhya, etc, is to get political mileage, by showing Indian (meaning Hindu) liberation from the foreigners (meaning Muslims).

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