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South Asian history will be rich legacy: Irfan Habib

By Nayanima Basu, IANS

New Delhi : Renowned Indian historian Irfan Habib says the history of South Asia is going to be viewed as a rich legacy in about 100 years from now when present day happenings will be seen in a different perspective.

“The history of South Asia would be viewed as a rich legacy. But then that also depends on how we solve some of the persisting problems that are going on in Kashmir and in the northeastern region,” Habib, a professor emeritus at Aligarh Muslim University, told IANS in an interview.

“It is incumbent on us to solve these problems. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are also going through disturbing times and we need to see how we solve these problems and how they go down in history,” the Padma Bhushan awardee said.

However, Habib believes far greater problems lie in what he called the “private violent acts” of certain countries. “We have problems but one must remember that far more people are dying every day due to the military actions of American and NATO forces. These are private violence acts and those figures are extremely disturbing,” he said.

“In any civilised world order unilateral operations like those which are on in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine cannot be permitted. These will definitely have repercussions in South Asia,” Habib said.

Commenting on the debate on whether the mutiny of 1857 was the first war of India’s independence, the historian said: “1857 can be treated in just two ways – either you believe in it and celebrate it or else you suppress it.”

Habib added that history as a subject will always be cherished, but time and again it will be questioned and it should be strong enough to face any doubts.

“History would always be pursued and cherished, but it needs to be viewed as any other subject. It should be immune to questions and doubts,” he said.