Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Story of India

I would categorise this as 'A Must Watch'  for every Indian who is proud of being one and also to those who are interested in knowing the centuries of history of the oldest known civilisation on planet Earth!

This documentary feature focuses on the history of India right from the identification of the roots to the time of rule of Britishers in India. The coverage of events can be imagined from the very fact that the British imperial rule takes just about 30-40 minutes in this feature split into 6 parts,each comprising an hour’s footage.

The BBC presenter, historian Michael Wood must have toiled to make this feature. He has traveled a lot over the course of the making of this documentary (Documentary doesn’t necessarily mean a ‘Bore’; This is as interesting as anything interesting one would have seen!) and has been absolutely enthusiastic (a bit exaggerative at times) and extremely respectful towards the history of India. The research team’s work is evident in the facts, excerpt and interviews presented in the series. They shall take a bow for showing the past of India to Indians through the eyes of someone foreign to the country.

The first part starts with startling revelations on the ancestry of the current crop of Indians who have either been from Africa or from Turkmenistan! It also takes us through the thriving civilisations that existed in Southern India, the Ganges plains and in the Indus valley – The famous Harappa Mohenjodaro civilisations – Proofs for these are also presented in form of archaeological & Literary evidences.

The second part encompasses the spread of Buddhism which seems to have quietly dominated the entire nation before even before the myths of the Mahabharatha had existed! The invasion of Alexander the Great & the rule of the Mauryan empire in the BC-AD transition is also presented.

The spotlight of the third part in the series is in the astonishing trade links (spices for gold) that existed between the Arabian Sea coasts of Kerala and the Roman empire and the establishment of the Silk Route by the Kushans who, in parallel, established the Europe-India-China connection through trade.

It is the pride of the Cholan empire that bears focus in the fourth part. Their 11th Century domination in the southern India with a spotless bureaucracy and their amazing invasion of lands in Java,Sumatra and Indonesia are highlights of this episode. Also presented are the mathematical, scientific, philosophical  and artistic explorations of Indians during what is termed as the ‘Golden Age’ of Indian civilisation.

The fifth part focuses on the entry of Islam into India. It starts off with the ruthless plunder that the Sultans did but the surprise comes with the periods of Mughal Invasion and Rule under Babur and Akbar when the miraculous synthesis of  Hindu – Islam isms happened. It was the rule of Aurangzeb that seems to have spoiled the party and brought back the divisions of the past.

Finally, The era that has been beaten to death in the school History books – The colonial rule of the British Raj – is presented and perspectives from descendants of families who were loyal to the brits and those who turned rebels are offered in tandem & the story of India’s past ends with the horrific massacres caused due to the migration between the now divided  India & Pakistan.

Watching this series makes one realise the importance & foresight India has had over so many centuries. The post-independence struggle for survival and recognition is just a tiny chunk in the history and looking at the tracks set in history, it is inevitable to believe that India would dominate the world again – It seems like its position in History makes it to be destined to! The only thing that is unknown - that is left to the morbid politics of the nation-, is how many decades or centuries is India going to wait to do that and Like in the past, who is going to come and loot the exploits when India reaches its pinnacle yet again.

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