ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Narrative of the Golden Hindu Period

Misinterpretation of Angus Maddison

Individuals associated with Sangh Parivar often cite Angus Maddison to support their narrative that India’s economic past was that of a golden bird. However, this is mere cherry-picking, and when looked at in its entirety, Maddison’s findings about India’s past are not that flattering. They show that
the golden Hindu period is a mere fantasy.

The Sangh Parivar believes that since ancient times, India has been a great Hindu civilisation, producing the greatest literature, science, and mathematics. It also believes that India was the biggest economy in the world, and hence it was called a sone ki chidiya (golden bird). Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to make India a golden bird again (Thacker 2018).

In the 11th century, North India was invaded by conquerors, earlier from Afghanistan, and later from Uzbekistan, who were Muslim. Subsequently, the British Empire replaced the Mughals as the conquerors of India. The Bharatiya Janata Party and Sangh Parivar in general believe that these foreign conquerors destroyed a great Hindu civilisation and converted the world’s biggest economy into a pygmy. This helps justify its anti-Muslim rhetoric. They say that in the past centuries, Hindus were weak and divided, and hence they were conquered. Hindus must now band together under the BJP to regain their earlier glory, it is asserted. Economic historian Angus Maddison is often cited to support its narrative that India was the largest economy in the world in 1 AD. However, this is mere cherry-picking. India’s economic condition, when seen in the entirety of Maddison’s work, was far less flattering.

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Updated On : 12th Feb, 2024
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