Sankarshan Thakur's History Lessons for Modi

Assertion: 

At the end of an oped in the Telegraph on 30 October 2013, the paper’s editor, Sankarshan Thakur provides history lessons to Narendra Modi and concludes that Modi’s sense of history is incorrect. 

Sankarshan Thakur’s oped recounts Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s riposte against Narendra Modi, which comes in the wake of Narendra Modi’s massive rally held in Patna on 27 October 2013. Among other things, Kumar’s retort includes taking potshots at Modi’s mentioning of various accounts of Bihar’s history. The following are the jibes taken by Nitish Kumar as reported in Sankarshan Thakur’s oped:

“Very educated man with a keen knowledge of history,” Nitish ventured, smacking his lips at what was to follow. “He thinks Alexander came to Bihar and was killed on the Ganges, he says Chandragupta Maurya was a Gupta dynasty king, he says Taxila is in Bihar, perhaps not knowing it is far away in the northwestern province of Pakistan. What is one to say of such a learned man?”

Based on this barb from Nitish Kumar, Sankarshan Thakur provides an infographic titled WHY MODI NEEDS A HISTORY GURU at the end of his oped. The infographic provides the correct facts of history as a counter to the errors that Modi had supposedly made in his speech about Bihar’s history.

Facts

First, Sankarshan Thakur has solely relied on Nitish Kumar’s words–that is, that Modi had gotten his Bihar history wrong–to write his oped and the accompanying infographic. However, when we listen to/read the exact words that Modi had uttered in his rally, here is what we get. The following then is the transcription (followed by an English translation) of the relevant parts of Modi’s speech:

bharat mei je swarnim itihasss ba, u poora ke poora bihar ke itihaas baa|chahe u nand wansh ke kaal hokhe, ya maurya vansh ke kaal hokhe||chahe gupt vansh ke kaal hokhe||
India’s golden history is nothing but the history of Bihar,
Be it the Nanda Dynasty or Maurya Dynasty or the Gupta dynasty||

These then are Modi’s words, verbatim. One wonders where Modi even mentioned the names of the persons who founded either the Maurya or the Gupta dynasty.

Next we can examine the second claim of Nitish Kumar–accepted as truth by Sankarshan Thakur–about Alexander’s (Sikandar) army being defeated on the banks of the Ganga in Bihar. Here is what Modi said:

Din-e-illahi ka bebak beda, naksha jiska aqsa-e-alam mei pahucha|
kiye paanch sau paar sato samandar, na aman mei thithka na gulzam mei jhijhka||
wo dooba dohab-e mei Ganga ke akar, wo dooba dohab-e mei Ganga ke akar||
The One who was (like) the unchecked ship of God, the One whose map stretched beyond this world|
The One who crossed the seven oceans with ease, the One who rested not in peace nor balked in adversity||
He drowned, when came to the Gangetic land||

The significant thing here is that these are not Narendra Modi’s words. He merely quoted a poem. Equally, there’s nothing in this poem that states that “Sikandar (Alexander) was defeated on the banks of the Ganga by Biharis” as claimed by Sankarshan Thakur’s infographic. Since unknown antiquity, India has been referred to by various appellations as “the land of the Indus,” “the land beyond the Himalayas,” “the land guarded by the Himalayas,” and “the land of the sacred Ganga.” This poem uses the same nomenclature while referring to India.

Narendra Modi’s complete speech delivered at the Patna rally can be viewed online here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8ont7QjwS0

Verdict

It is quite clear from the foregoing facts that Sankarshan Thakur has uncritically accepted as truth Nitish Kumar’s questioning of Narendra Modi’s sense of history. Further, Thakur has also attributed statements to Modi, which he never made. And Sankarshan Thakur has done this despite being aware of the fact that Modi’s actual speech is easily accessible for verification–either by himself or by the public

This is a clear case of open distortion of facts and misleading journalism.

IndiaFacts verdict: Sankarshan Thakur is an incorrigible liar. 

Postscript: IndiaFacts gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Arvind Dhar (Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheArvindDhar) and Samay (https://twitter.com/@right__click) for their translation of the verses quoted in this Fact Meter.

34 Comments

  • […] instance of this sort by the mainstream English media in India. The case of Sankarshan Thakur who indulged in similar misquoting, and that of Sagarika Ghose who called a Supreme Court judge a crackpot are […]

  • shubhos@twitter.example.com'
    November 30, 2013

    shubho sengupta (@shubhos)

    modi is semi-literate but so what

  • sanjpathi@gmail.com'
    November 26, 2013

    sappy07

    Well.. this the quality of the conversation bought out by introspecting a speech delivered Modi vs his direct adversary, directly points to the fact that Modi speaks sense and inculcates enriching conversation. Be it in history, civics or governance.
    Not just arbit jokes about poverty, jupiter, beehives or horses. Time to look at the big picture. Time to understand the rationale of the ideas.

  • drishya_saakshi@twitter.example.com'

    Guys,
    Looks like you too missed the real source of the poem that Modi quotes from:
    Please see this: http://bharatendu.com/2013/10/30/modis-quotatation-from-mawlana-hali/

    His speech and his reference to that poem hit many birds with one shot.

    • vetala@comcast.net'
      November 16, 2013

      Sam

      Brilliant! He cleverly juxtaposed two foreign invasions, paraphrased a maulana no-less, and got Nitish Kumar and Shashi Tharoor to look foolish in the bargain. A hat-trick! Contrast this to the mangled “escape velocity of Jupiter” reference by the clown prince and the derision that it deservedly got.

  • sughosh@gmail.com'
    November 2, 2013

    Sughosh

    Indian Express has repeated the same junk today despite your fact-check. You might want to add their link / screenshot on this and label them “Incorrigible Liars” too

  • ashish_bagrecha2000@yahoo.com'
    November 1, 2013

    Ashish B

    I think whoever wrote that poem was a communal, fascist & a sanghi.

    End of discussion. 😉

  • bvshenoy2010@bsnl.in'
    October 31, 2013

    B.V.SHENOY

    Nitish is as weak in history as he is in geography and also political science.

    Modi is the destiny of India and he will make history, not falsify history

  • NOMAIL@NOMAIL.COM'
    October 31, 2013

    NOMA

    WHO WROTE THAT POEM ?

  • rnpadukone@gmail.com'
    October 30, 2013

    Ravi

    Asli baat ko chod kar phaltu baaton mein lag jaate hein modi me virodhi!

  • gk_india33@yahoo.in'
    October 30, 2013

    Gajendra

    are yaar he was talking golden era of India which certainly part of today Bihar/Magadh takshila once was under Magadh empire. Nitish jaisa chhota dimag mat rakhen aaplog meaning ko samjhe.

  • chandan142285@gmail.com'
    October 30, 2013

    CHANDAN KUMAR

    Nitish in his meeting said that Modi has said that Chandragupata maurya is of gupta dynasty but Modi has said only chandragupta and its right also bcoz there was a Chandragupta in gupta Dyanasty who reign is considered golden age of ancient india read this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gupta_Empire

  • deepakshah11@gmail.com'
    October 30, 2013

    pinadeepak

    Shame on Shankarshan Thakur, he has made a fool of himself by depending on a greater fool’s version.

  • r.nilesh@gmail.com'
    October 30, 2013

    nils_gate

    1) As per the video Modi did say ‘Gupta vansh ki baat kare to chandragupta maurya ki yaad aati hai’, at 5 min 40 sec the link ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8ont7QjwS0) given by you.
    2) at 6:30 mins Namo, mentions “gyan yug ki baat kare to Nalanda and Takshashila ki yaad aati hai”, Nalanda and Takshashila are always named together so nothing much wrong about as Nalanda comes under Bihar, however someone wants to point at facts can still be correct saying Takshashila does not come under Bihar.

    So in a way you too have been economical.

    I am Namo supprter, and if there was a mistake there is nothing wrong in saying.. ha bhai thodi gadbad ho gayi.

    • kay.kartik@gmail.com'
      October 30, 2013

      Kartikey Pandey

      bhai even that wasnt wrong .. since ONCE taxshila DO come under Magadha dynasty as Modi ji claimed 🙂

    • rameshbobbu@twitter.example.com'
      October 30, 2013

      Ramesh (@rameshbobbu)

      You are wrong. Modi said “Gupta vansh ki yaad kare to chandragupta ki rajjniti hume prerna deti hai’

      • AdiGatsby@twitter.example.com'
        October 31, 2013

        Aditya Sharma (@AdiGatsby)

        It is about understanding the gist of the speech, and you are right about acknowledging mistakes. However, he wasn’t lying, and to nitpick each and every word is akin to concrete thinking…it is like someone says; I studied day and night to pass the exam, and you ask no you sleep as well so how can you study day and night..

      • ashutosh2d@yahoo.co.in'
        November 4, 2013

        Ashutosh Dube

        Chandragupt 2nd Vikramaditya of Gupt dynasty united North and south by entering into friendship with Vakatak dynasty. Isliye Modi ka statement puri tarah kharij bhi nahi kiya ja sakta.

        • suvasis.das@rediffmail.com'
          November 5, 2013

          Subhash

          Exactly chandragupta i and ii were rulers in gupta empire and chandragupta ii was a noted ruler also known as vikramaditya… so guess even nitish needs history lessons

    • chandan142285@gmail.com'
      October 30, 2013

      CHANDAN KUMAR

      he has said ” agar hum gupt vansha ki yaad karen to chandragupta ki yaad aati hai, he has never attached “MAURYA “, FURTHER U SHOULD KNOW THAT THERE WAS A CHANDRAGUPTA IN DYNASTY whose rule is considered as golden age of ancient india. those who have basic knowledge of history know this fact .for better details i am providing this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gupta_Empire

    • imharshp@twitter.example.com'
      October 30, 2013

      HarshaVardhana (@imharshp)

      Dear nils_gate

      At 5.40 in the video, Modi says “Agar gupt vansh ko yaad karein, to chandragupt ki rajneeti hame prerna deti hai..”. Please note here that he did not say “Chandragupta Maurya”, he said “Chandragupta”..

      Some historians consider Chandragupta I, to be the founder of Gupta Dynasty. He was a powerful ruler and master politician. Ther is also some ambiguity among historians as to whether it was Chandragupta I or Chandragupta Maurya, who averted the advance of Alexander. Lots of debates have happened, but it remains largely inconclusive.

      Please refer:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandragupta_I

    • aa@kk.ll'
      October 30, 2013

      OmNaMoNamaha

      Congi sickular stooge. Get lost!

      • r.nilesh@gmail.com'
        October 31, 2013

        nils_gate

        No need to go out of the context. People like you are creating bad name for the rest.

    • m.s.seshadri@hotmail.com'
      October 30, 2013

      M.S.Seshadri

      Dear Nils_gate

      Please listen to NaMo again 5mins 40sec he clearly says that “Gupta vansh ki baat kare to chandragupta ki yaad aati hai” He never said chandragupta maurya. Ghatotkacha (reigned c. 280–319 CE), had a son named Chandragupta (reigned c. 319–335 CE) (not to be confused with Chandragupta Maurya (340–293 BCE), founder of the Mauryan Empire.)

    • amishra77@twitter.example.com'
      October 31, 2013

      Akhilesh Mishra (@amishra77)

      Dear Nils_gate,
      Either you did not listen to the video link or did listen but cannot understand Hindi. In either case, you jumped in the debate, suffering from statesmanitis.

      Modi DID NOT say Chnadragupta Maurya. He said Chandragupta. Listen to the video again between 5;30 and 5:45. And in case you are challenged on history, then Chnadragupta, different from Chandragupta Maurya, was a ruler in Gupta dynasty too.

      • r.nilesh@gmail.com'
        October 31, 2013

        nils_gate

        I see he did not say Maurya. This is exactly the thing which author this article should have clarified in detail. Thanks for the clarification.

        • bolla111@gmail.com'
          November 1, 2013

          Bharath

          Dear nils_gate Mr.Modi said Gupta vansh and Chandra gupta. In fact Period of Chandra Gupta-II is considered as golden age and his capital is Pataliputra, the present Patna. Then where is the controversy.

    • novonilg@gmail.com'
      October 31, 2013

      RSM

      As per the video you mention, at 5mn 40sec, Modi says “Gupta vansh ki baat kare to Chandragupta ki rajneeti hame prerna deti hai”. He doesn’t mention Chandragupta ‘Maurya’. Chandragupta was a part of Gupta dynasty.

      • anil_dubey@hotmail.com'
        November 7, 2013

        ektroncmstesting

        I do not see anthing wrong in Modiji’s comment.

    • govindr@gmail.com'
      November 5, 2013

      gbhai

      It is entirely possible that he meant to say “Maurya vansh” but ended up saying “Gupta vansh”. This is a typical slip of tongue when anyone talks on the subject particularly since the term “gupta” occurs in the names of both. Where is there the scope of being economical. But the essential point of the speech was the greatness of Bihar and here there is no scope for misunderstanding as both Maurya and Gupta were centered in what has now become Bihar. We are quibbling over inanities.

    • snimesh@ibibo.com'
      November 13, 2013

      nimeshchandra

      gupt vansh also had chandragupt , in fact 2 , but modi was referring chandra gupt II also known as vikramadaitya

    • shantanu.khandkar@gmail.com'
      February 25, 2014

      Shantanu Khandkar

      No he doesn’t. He says, “Agar Gupta vansh ki yaad kare toh Chandragupta ki rajniti hame prerna deti hai”. Chandragupta Maurya is distinct from Chandragupta I and Chandragupta II of the Gupta dynasty.

  • ashutosh@bestseocontentwriters.com'
    October 30, 2013

    Ashutosh pandey

    very well written piece and absolutely true.

  • asraghunath@gmail.com'
    October 30, 2013

    Raghunath A S

    ….massive rally on Oct 27 and not on 26th pls.