Thursday, December 18, 2008

Historical Arguments

I found this article dripping with sarcasm. Courtesy for the article goes to Churumuri.

I see it as a classic historian vs economist battle. One that should be part of studies such as religion vs science; atheist vs believer; rationalism vs superstition etc.

Ashok Desai relies on facts penned down in historical classics such as Ab'ul Fazl's Ain-I-Akbari to make some sort of comparison between the wages of Mughal times versus the wages of the 1960s. (Turns out the Mughal wages were higher)

In response, Irfan Habib and his research scholar Shireen Moosvi provide a historical rebuttal to Mr. Desai's analysis with a Marxist backdrop that exploitation was the tendency of the rulers and hence wages had to be lower in the Mughal times. Now, that the Marxist revolution has come and gone, people are being paid better.

Its a fascinating argument - the manner in which metals are compared to modern day currency; how interpretations are made about the manner of life in the past etc

More of these please!!!

1 comment:

Pied Myna said...

Problem - you don't know whether Irfan Habib said what Desai claims he did. Seems unlikely. Habib has described oppression in detail in all times up to the present. In the 1960s, just after British rule, there would be no "Marxist" reason for him to deny better times under the Mughals. Desai's own statement that "Mughal courtiers" had higher income than the average in modern times is, besides, hardly worth refuting. It would be remarkable indeed if the Mughal elite were starving.