September 27, 2021
General News

Swati Parashar reviews Savarkar: A Contested Legacy, 1924-1966, by Vikram Sampath

A historian contextualises the life of Savarkar, a strident critic of both Gandhi and Nehru, by re-evaluating the details of a highly polarising figure

The erasure of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar from public life and memory has been astounding, given the interest in historical figures such as Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and others who mobilised Hindu and Muslim identities during the anti-colonial struggle. Irresponsible and often uninformed references to Savarkar’s Hindutva politics and advocacy of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ are drawn attention to, along with his mercy petition to the British government (while incarcerated in the Andamans), and his role in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi (from which he was exonerated). These have been enough reasons for historians, scholars, and successive governments to ignore a political figure whose ideas…

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