The proposed move to establish a Central University named after Tipu Sultan near Mysore has generated sound and fury predictably from those opposed to it on communal grounds.
But historian B. Sheik Ali, former Vice Chancellor of Mangalore and Goa Universities and an authority on the subject, says such notions are rooted in ignorance of what Tipu really was and the need of the hour was a sober analysis to throw light on his persona and character to see him in different perspective. As a reformer, Tipu abolished liquor, promoted State enterprise, introduced silk and tried to abolish feudalism.
“While Tipu Sultan’s treatment of Hindus is perceived to be harsh, not many are aware the Sultan’s treatment of Muslims was equally stern. The Mappillas of Malabar, Nawabs of Savanur, Cuddapah and Kurnool were inflicted severe treatment for their disloyalty and it was purely political in nature. One cannot ascribe communal or religious motives to it and Tipu Sultan was more hostile towards the Nizam than towards the Marathas,” said Prof. Ali.
Those disparaging Tipu Sultan for communal reasons should be aware that he made numerous gifts to temples, notably the Srikanteshwara temple at Nanjangud and Sri Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangapatana, donated 10,000 gold coins to complete the temple at Kanchi, settled the disputes between the two sects of priests at the Melukote temple, while his several letters to Sringeri Shankaracharya speaks volumes of his respect to Hindusism, according to Prof. Ali, who said the present prejudice against Tipu Sultan was a fallout of the bias of colonial historians because Tipu had challenged the British paramountcy in India.