Meenakshi Jain (मीनाक्षी जैन) is an Indian political scientist and historian sympathetic to Hindu revivalism and Hindu nationalism. She is the author of the controversial history textbook Medieval India published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) during the NDA government to replace the prior text by Romila Thapar. Her recent book Rama and Ayodhya sets out the Hindu revivalist perspective on the Ayodhya dispute.
Life and career
|Alma mater||University of Delhi|
|Thesis title||Congress Party, 1967-77: Role of Caste in Indian Politics|
Rama and Ayodhya
Jain received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Delhi. Her thesis on the social base and relations between caste and politics was published in 1991. She would also work as a fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Currently, Jain is an associate professor of history at Gargi College, affiliated to the University of Delhi.
- Congress Party, 1967-77: Role of Caste in Indian Politics (Vikas, 1991), ISBN 0706953193.
- Medieval India: A Textbook for Class XI (NCERT, 2002), ISBN 8174501711.
- Rajah-Moonje Pact: Documents On A Forgotten Chapter Of Indian History (with Devendra Svarupa, Low Price Publishers, 2007), ISBN 8184540787.
- Parallel Pathways: Essays on Hindu-Muslim Relations, 1707-1857 (Konark Publishers, 2010), ISBN 9788122007831.
- The India They Saw (co-edited with Sandhya Jain, 4 Volumes, Prabhat Prakashan), ISBN 8184301065, ISBN 8184301073, ISBN 8184301081, ISBN 818430109X.
- Rama and Ayodhya (Aryan Books International, 2013), ISBN 8173054517.
- Sati: Evangelicals, Baptist Missionaries, and the Changing Colonial Discourse (Aryan Books International, 2016), ISBN 8173055521
- The Battle for Rama: Case of the Temple at Ayodhya
- Selected Articles
- "Congress 1967: Strategies of Mobilisation in D. A. Low" in The Indian National Congress Centenary Hindsights, 1988.
- "Backward Castes and Social Change in U. P. and Bihar" in Srinivas (2000).
- "Power Equations in Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century India: the Empirical Backdrop to Nationalism, International Forum for India's Heritage, 2003.
Chander Pal Singh finds Jain's Parallel Pathways to be "path-breaking work" that questions the standard narrative of "amicable relations" between Hindus and Muslims during the medieval times broken only by the divide-and-rule policies of the British colonial government. Jain argues that there were fundamental differences between the two communities and that such differences were aggravated during the period of Mughal decline which saw the resurgence of Hindu and Sikh powers and the rise of Muslim orthodoxy. Jain notes that a great majority of the nobility in the Mughal court consisted of immigrants, and that such an elite would consciously transform Hindavi into Urdu by substituting a large number of Sanskrit-origin words with Persian and Arabic words in order to maintain a separate identity. Jain holds Muslim orthodoxy responsible for inviting the invasions of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali for explicit purpose of preserving Islam. She also questions the thesis that the India's First War of Independence was a joint Hindu-Muslim project and notes that Islamic institutions issued over 200,000 fatwas in the post-Revolt period to "outlaw" customary practices shared between both Hindus and Muslims.
M. V. Kamath, in the Free Press Journal, describes Jain's Rama and Ayodhya as briefly examining the antiquity of Rama's story and its spread through the Indian subcontinent, and then devoting the rest of the book to the Ayodhya dispute. Jain's enormous research makes Rama "come alive," tracing stories about him from the 4th century BCE to the present. She has provided "fair" criticism to Irfan Habib and Romila Thapar, reporting the presentation of their case in considerable detail. Professor Pralay Kanungo, of Jawaharlal Nehru University, calls the book a "serious exercise" that aspires to make a quiet impact. It succeeds in trying to create a coherent and authentic historical narrative that aims to demolish the dominant narrative of the Left historians of India. Koenraad Elst has called the book a "definitive Ayodhya chronicle," forming required reading for any one talking about the Ayodhya dispute. He finds the chapter on Hindu testimonies of Muslim iconoclasm "highly original," which also details the measures taken by Hindu society to prevent or remedy instances of such iconoclasm. Another chapter gives an "exhaustive enumeration" of all the testimonies of the tradition that the Babri Masjid replaced a Hindu temple, including the statements made in Allahabad High Court. Also detailed are the testimonies of the pro-Masjid historians in the court and outside, which were eventually disregarded by the Allahabad High Court for their lack of competence.
- Indian Marxists, notwithstanding their claims to originality, have always been faithful followers of Western intellectual trends, often long after these were dated in the west. Thus, well after Western academics expounded upon European feudalism, Indian Marxists continue to search for point-by-point parallels between post-Gupta India and the West. Similarly the once-in-vogue notion of 'imagined' communities continues to bewitch our Marxist brethren who remain committed to fitting the history of the subcontinent to this maxim. Only the western rethinking on old patriotisms underpinning the new nationalisms has yet to win the allegiance of Indian Marxists.
- Review of Romila Thapar's "Somanatha, The Many Voices of a History" by Meenakshi Jain, in The Pioneer 21st March 2004
- Notwithstanding this politico-cultural reality, early Indian nationalists sought to inculcate a spirit of inclusivity and accommodation into the emergent socio-political discourse. As the freedom movement developed however, the Muslim League articulated an ideology committed wholly to its Islamic fountainhead and stressed the need to maintain the community’s political dominance in the country. The League’s refusal or failure to come to terms with the forces of modernization ushered in by the British further pushed it on a trajectory away from the national mainstream.
- "Power Equations in Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century India: the Empirical Backdrop to Nationalism", International Forum for India's Heritage, 2003.
About Meenakshi Jain
- After coming to power in 1998, the BJP-dominated government has made a half-hearted and not always very competent attempt to effect glasnost (openness, transparency) at least in the history textbooks. They ordered the writing of new history textbooks for the schools. This led the Marxists to start a furious hate campaign against the so-called “saffronization” (hinduization) of history. Most of the new textbooks have rightly been criticized for being written in poor English and riddled with errors,-- the result of both the Hindu movement's long-standing anti-intellectual prejudice and the systematic exclusion of aspiring pro-Hindu scholars from the institutions by the ruling Marxists. The one major exception, however, is precisely the volume on the Muslim conquest and rule, Medieval India (class XI) by Prof. Meenakshi Jain, an impeccable text systematically based on primary sources.
- K. Elst: Religious Cleansing of Hindus, 2004, Agni conference in The Hague, In: The Problem with Secularism by K. Elst (2007)
- "History, their story".
- Nussbaum 2008, p. 232-233.
- Rohit Srivastava (9 June 2013). "Busting secular myths: Review of Meenakshi Jain's Rama and Ayodhya". The Pioneer. Retrieved 2014-12-15.
- Srinivas 2000, Notes on Contributors.
- Nussbaum 2008, p. 236.
- Jain 2013, back cover.
- Membership of the Indian Council of Historical Research
- Meenakshi Jain (21 March 2004). "Review of Romila Thapar's "Somanatha, The Many Voices of a History"". The Pioneer. Retrieved 2014-12-15.
- Singh, Chander Pal (2013). "Book Review - Parallel Pathways: Essays on Hindu Muslim Relations (1707-1857)" (PDF). Journal of Indian Research. 1 (4): 149–151.
- M. V. Kamath (2 June 2013). "Rama & Ayodhya". Free Press Journal.
- Alternative Narratives, Pralay Kanungo, The Book Review Literary Trust, 5 May 2014.
- Koenraad Elst (24 September 2014). "The Definitive Ayodhya Chronicle". India Facts.
- Hawley, John Stratton (2015). A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674187466.
- Jain, Meenakshi (2013). Rama and Ayodhya. New Delhi: Aryan Books. ISBN 8173054517.
- Nussbaum, Martha C. (2008). The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-03059-6.
- Srinivas, M. N., ed. (2000). Caste: Its 20th Century Avatar. Penguin U. K. ISBN 9351187837.
- Sundar, Nandini (2005). "Teaching to Hate: RSS' Pedagogical Programme". In E. Ewing. Revolution and pedagogy interdisciplinary and transnational perspectives on educational foundations. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 195–218. ISBN 978-1-4039-8013-7.
- Sundar, Nandini (Apr 2004). "Teaching to Hate: RSS' Pedagogical Programme". Economic and Political Weekly. 39 (16). pp. 1605–1612. JSTOR 4414900.
- Rosser, Yvette Claire (2003). Curriculum as Destiny: Forging National Identity in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh (PDF) (Dissertation). University of Texas at Austin.
- Ram and Ayodhya - Dr Meenakshi Jain - India Inspires Talks
- MEENAKSHI JAIN ON ROMILA THAPARS SOMANATHA OF HISTORY
- In Conversation with Meenakshi Jain