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I salute President Kovind for his bold and honest statement on Tipu Sultan!
The famous American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist Avram Noam Chomsky who is sometimes described as "the father of modern linguistics" says that intellectuals are in a position to expose the lies of governments, to analyse actions according to their causes and motives and often hidden intentions.

In the Western world, at least, they have the power that comes from political liberty, from access to information and freedom of expression. For a privileged minority, Western democracy provides the leisure, the facilities, and the training to seek the truth lying hidden behind the veil of distortion and misrepresentation, ideology and class interest, through which the events of current history are presented to us. The responsibilities of intellectuals, then, are much deeper than what Macdonald calls the "responsibility of people," given the unique privileges that intellectuals enjoy.

Not in Europe, but in the land of diverse and conflicting ideologies, an intellectual has risen to occasion. I'm delighted to read what President Ramnath Kovind on Wednesday said about Tipu Sultan. He praised Tipu Sultan for sacrificing his life in the fight against British invaders. It was a real Presidential declaration from an intellectual that has had his schooling in RSS seminaries. It was a daring and confident act that speaks volumes for his integrity, honesty and sagacity. He has actually placed himself at the centre of an ongoing controversy over the 18th century ruler's legacy.

Speaking at a joint session of the legislature during the Vidhana Soudha's diamond jubilee celebrations in Bengaluru, President Kovind said: "Tipu Sultan died a heroic death fighting the British. He was also a pioneer in the development and use of Mysore rockets in warfare. This technology was later adopted by Europeans."

This humble scribe, in his article on 23th October, 2017 in Merinews had taken up the subject of Tipu Sultan and his contribution to Indian History. I am reproducing some excerpts from that article to bring in in sync with the wise words of the Indian President.

"Now let me come back to the serious topic of 'Tipu Sultan' who is the target of RSS / BJP's hate Muslim Rulers Campaign. In a letter to Karnataka Chief Minister's Secretariat and Uttara Kannada DC, Minister of State (MoS) for Skill Development Entrepreneurship Anantkumar Hegde on Friday asked them to not include his name on the list of invitees for the programmes during the Tipu Jayanti celebrations in the state. The event will be held on November 10. And supporting Shri Hegde, BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje spoke against Tipu Sultan calling him 'anti-Kannada' and 'anti-Hindu'. She further added that the opposition against the celebrations was a unanimous call by all the Kannadigas. Calling it vote-bank politics, she said that despite her plea to the state government not celebrate the occasion, nobody paid heed to it.

"Tipu was anti-Kannada & anti-Hindu, all the Kannadigas are opposing it. Told govt you shouldn't celebrate Tipu Jayanti from govt's side but they are into vote-bank politics," Karandlaje was quoted as saying by ANI.

Those who could malign the greatest symbol of eternal love upon Earth – the Taj Mahal could go to any length to tarnish the Muslim Indian history and polarize the society for political gains.

It is true that he crushed the Hindus of Coorg, the Christians of Mangalore and the Nayars of Malabar. However, those who want to go deeper into the past of this munificent ruler are advised to read the book by Dr BN Pandey titled "Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan: Evaluation of their Religious Policies,"(Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi). According to the learned historian, his irewas targetted at only thosewho wished to undermine his authority by joining the British. Tipu had not spared the Mopillas of Malabar or the Mahadevi Muslims or Nawabs of Sawanur or Nizam whenever he suspected such tendencies among them. His harshness was only towards those who had joined the British to overthrow his regime, and hence it was politically motivated and not religiously inspired."...........End of the quote.

That RSS / BJP camp might have been caught off guard and taken by surprise. It was one act of "Pacnh ke mukh se Parmeshwar bolta hai". God speaks through the intermediary. What is more welcome is the fair first reaction to the President's statement by Union minister for statistics and programme implementation DV Sadananda Gowda who has called for a halt to the birth anniversary celebrations pending a public debate on the matter.

"We don't dispute (the fact that Kovind spoke about the sultan on the basis of historical events), and we respect that. But, at the same time, there are other issues (raised by historians, writers and politicians) that need to be debated in public," he said.

But you can't convince the diehard bigots and Muslim haters. Immediately after the President's speech, the BJP leader R Ashoka, for his part, blamed the ruling Siddaramaiah government for Kovind referencing Tipu Sultan in his address. "The state government gave the speech to the President," he said.

Meanwhile, the debate over the historical figure's legacy – which usually reaches fever pitch in the run-up to Tipu Jayanti – has become a hot topic among historians and academicians too.

Historian Chidananda Murthy reiterated the RSS version that while there was no disputing the fact that the ruler fought the British (or pioneered the use of rockets in warfare), he did it like any other Indian ruler of the time and "not as a freedom fighter". He claimed that Tipu Sultan introduced Urdu in his kingdom because he was against Kannada. "He wrote letters to his army generals, asking them to kill kafirs (infidels). This resulted in the destruction of temples and churches," he added.

Reductio ad absurdom I've to again revert back to my article in Merinews.

"When the famed Sringeri Mutt, was invaded by the Maratha army, Sultan Tipu had issued a firman to provide financial assistance for reinstallation of the holy idol and restoring the tradition of worship at the Mutt. His donation to the famous Srikanteshwara temple at Nanjangud; the donation of 10,000 gold coins to complete temple work at Kanchi; settling the disputes between two sects of priests at the Melkote temple; and gifts to Lakshmikanta temple at Kalale are all well-known. Interestingly, Srirangapatna, a temple town, remained his permanent capital till the end of his rule."..........End of quote.

My views are supported by academician Rajendra Chenni who claims that there were at least three reasons to celebrate the historical figure.

"There are documents that bear testament to Tipu Sultan's vision of the impact that colonisation could have, and those are really forward-looking. He was also a great administrator, and though he was not the first to streamline administrative functions, he was very effective. There are letters that show Tipu seeking more priests for the Srirangapatna temple," he said.

"It is also a fact that Tipu helped restore the Sringeri Math, which was desecrated by the Marathas. Ironically, the Marathas were hailed as great Hindu kings. Tipu, more than other rulers of the time, knew the importance of the coast and wanted to capture it. He attacked churches on the coast over an assumption that the Christians there supported the British. However, how can we draw such rules when the very founding doctrine (of the BJP) denies the syncretic nature of our culture and suggests that Muslims and Christians are outsiders?" Chenni asked.

As scribe I'm not unknown to critique, abuse and even occasional praise. However, the moments are special when one's opinion finds an echo in the verdict of the highest office of the nation.

I salute you Mr President!

"The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace." ...Mahatma Gandhi

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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