Why Indian history needs to break from away a ‘Delhi-centric’ view to an ‘Indian Ocean rim’ view
Srijan Foundation organised a talk by Sanjeev Sanyal at the Jawahar Lal Nehru University. The topic of his talk was ‘The forgotten history of India’s Maritime Past’.
Here in this piece, the amazing Sanjeev opens with the maritime neighbours of India.
The theme of my talk today is the maritime history of India. And the reason it may be interesting today for many of you is because India is one of the great maritime countries of the world through history.
And unfortunately much of the history that we learn in our textbooks is very much continent oriented. If you aren’t a specialist you could be forgiven for thinking that Indian history is about series of dynasties who were ruling Patliputra, followed by series of dynasties who ruled Delhi; all the way to the present day.
So, my idea is to hopefully give you some flavor of another history and it’s not just a theoretical, sentimental view of history but it has genuine implication for the way we think about our world today. If you take the continental or Delhi-centric view of the history, you’d get an impression that our neighborhood is about China and Pakistan but in fact, if you think about maritime world view, then our neighbors are; we have Indonesia on one side and Oman on the other side……of course, I am not taking into account Sri Lanka and Maldives. Even further out as far as perhaps, the Vietnam. That is sort of in a sense the ecosystem of our history.
So I am going to give you a flavor of that. I don’t have a long period of time and i don’t want to bore you with a long monologue. So, I will be necessarily selective in the way I am going through it, just to keep the story flowing. But hopefully, I will be able to give you some sense of it.
Incidentally, what I am talking about is to some extent derived from a book I will be publishing later this year. It is called a brief history of India’s geography. It has a main title. We have not decided on the title yet but it’s going to be a brief history of India’s geography.
This is a small part of the talk. For the entire video of the talk, please see: