Arun Shourie, public speaking, conference, Horasis Global India Business Meeting, former minister, FICCI, business event, Indian politician, economic policy, global business community, leadership, investment, 2009 event, keynote address, tipu sultan, tipu sultan legacyArun Shourie delivers a compelling address at the Horasis Global India Business Meeting in 2009, discussing the intricacies of disinvestment and economic policy.

Tipu Sultan Legacy

The third post in our series on Tipu Sultan critically examines the complex views historians hold about his reign, focusing on his identity as a Muslim ruler, his military strategies, and his governance. Born on November 20, 1750, Tipu Sultan is both celebrated for his resistance against British colonialism and scrutinized for his leadership methods. This essay, titled “Criticism By Historians,” delves into the diverse critiques of Tipu Sultan, highlighting the multifaceted nature of his legacy through the lens of historians like Sandeep Balakrishna, Arun Shourie, and Sankunni Menon. These historians offer a range of perspectives, from portraying Tipu as a tyrant responsible for atrocities during his military campaigns to accusing him of religious intolerance. By exploring these divergent views, the essay seeks to illuminate the complexities and controversies that continue to define Tipu Sultan’s place in history, providing a nuanced discussion on his policies and the impact of his rule.

Earlier Posts

The first essay in the series, “Tipu Sultan: A True Muslim,” explores the dual narrative surrounding Tipu Sultan’s faith and how it influenced his rule, reflecting on his legacy as both a devout Muslim leader and a ruler whose actions were deeply intertwined with the Islamic faith.

The second essay, “Military Campaigns,” delves into Tipu Sultan’s strategic military tactics and innovations, particularly his use of rocket artillery, showcasing his prowess as a formidable adversary against colonial powers and highlighting his role in the Anglo-Mysore Wars.

Sandeep Balakrishna

Celebrated Autoor, Sandeep Balakrishna in his book “Tipu Sultan: The Tyrant of Mysore,” has presented a decided perspective of the 18th-century ruler of Mysore. Balakrishna portrays Tipu Sultan not as a heroic freedom fighter or a secular ruler, but as a tyrant whose reign was marked by religious persecution and oppressive governance.

Here are some key aspects of Balakrishna’s viewpoint:

Religious Intolerance:

Balakrishna argues that Tipu Sultan was intolerant towards Hindus and Christians. He cites instances of forced conversions to Islam, destruction of temples and churches, and imposition of religious taxes on non-Muslims as evidence of Tipu’s religious bigotry.

Brutality in Warfare and Governance:

The book details various military campaigns led by Tipu Sultan, portraying them as brutal and oppressive. Balakrishna describes how these campaigns were often accompanied by violence against civilians, looting, and destruction of property, painting a picture of a ruler who was ruthless in his pursuit of power.

Revisionist Historical Perspective:

Balakrishna’s work is part of a broader revisionist movement in historical writing. He challenges the glorification of Tipu Sultan in Indian history, arguing that such portrayals overlook or deliberately ignore the more controversial and oppressive aspects of his rule.

Political Usage of History:

Balakrishna also addresses the contemporary political usage of historical figures like Tipu Sultan in India. He criticizes what he sees as attempts to whitewash historical figures for political gains, calling for a more balanced and nuanced understanding of history that acknowledges its complexities.

Use of Historical Sources:

To support his arguments, Balakrishna relies on a variety of historical sources, including Tipu Sultan’s own letters, accounts of British officers, and records of contemporaries. He uses these sources to build a case against the more favorable views of Tipu Sultan’s administration and policies.

Arun Shourie

Arun Shourie, an Indian author, journalist, and former politician, is known for his critical views on various historical and political subjects, including his perspective on Tipu Sultan.

Regarding Tipu Sultan, a historical figure often revered for his resistance against British colonialism but also criticized for his religious and administrative policies, Shourie’s analysis is likely to be multifaceted:

Criticism of Religious Policies:

Shourie is known for his criticism of religious intolerance and persecution. Therefore, he might critique aspects of Tipu Sultan’s reign that are viewed as oppressive, particularly towards Hindu and Christian communities, as documented by some historians.

Sankunni Menon

Flight and Atrocities in Malabar

Sankunni Menon, a renowned historian, provides a vivid account of the large-scale migration and atrocities committed by Tipu Sultan in the Malabar region. He observes the merciless Jihad against Hindus, leading to massive migration from Malabar, particularly among the richer Hindus, including Nairs, Brahmins, and landowners, who sought refuge in Travancore. This mass exodus was a direct result of Tipu Sultan’s reign of terror.

Testimonies of Historians

Menon corroborates his observations with testimonies from other historians like James Innes, Hamilton-Buchanan, and KP Padmanabha Menon, highlighting the brutal pursuit of fleeing Hindus by Tipu’s troops, the devastation in Malabar, and the plight of the refugees.

Devastation and Impact

Menon notes that the Malabar region, under Tipu’s regime, witnessed a state bordering on anarchy, with trade coming to a standstill and severe depopulation due to persecution. He echoes the observations of other historians like KM Panikkar, pointing out that Malabar was depopulated and turned into a wilderness under Tipu Sultan, affecting not just his enemies but common people as well​​.

Religious Persecution

Menon emphasizes the religious aspect of Tipu Sultan’s reign, indicating the Sultan’s actions were not merely against his political enemies but also targeted the religious practices of Hindus, leading to mass conversions and destruction of temples. This perspective is supported by the accounts of other contemporary observers and historians​​​​.


In summarizing the exploration of Tipu Sultan’s legacy through this series, we’ve traversed the complex landscapes of his religious identity, military strategies, and the critical lens of historical scholarship. Born on November 20, 1750, Tipu Sultan remains a figure of immense historical significance, embodying the resistance against British colonial forces while simultaneously invoking debate over his governance and policies.

The Series

  • A Multifaceted Legacy: The first essay, “Tipu Sultan: A True Muslim,” navigated the intricate discussions around Tipu Sultan’s faith and its impact on his rule, presenting him as a leader whose actions were deeply influenced by Islamic principles.
  • Strategic Military Mind: The second essay focused on “Military Campaigns,” detailing Tipu Sultan’s advanced military tactics and his significant contributions to the Anglo-Mysore Wars, portraying him as a visionary in warfare.
  • Historical Critiques: This concluding essay, “Criticism By Historians,” delves into the contested views of historians like Sandeep Balakrishna, Arun Shourie, and Sankunni Menon, offering insights into the contentious aspects of Tipu Sultan’s rule, from alleged religious intolerance to the impact of his military campaigns on the civilian population.

Each piece of this series has contributed to a broader understanding of Tipu Sultan’s intricate legacy, challenging and enriching our perception of a ruler who navigated the tumultuous waters of his time with a blend of military prowess and controversial policies. As we reflect on the narratives and critiques presented, it becomes evident that Tipu Sultan’s historical footprint is both indelible and complex, marked by achievements and controversies that continue to fuel scholarly debate and public interest.

Through the lens of historians, Tipu Sultan’s reign is dissected with a critical eye, revealing a legacy punctuated by both commendable resistance and contentious decisions. This comprehensive examination underscores the importance of nuanced discourse in evaluating historical figures, inviting readers to delve deeper into the layers that constitute Tipu Sultan’s enduring legacy.

As we conclude this series, it’s clear that Tipu Sultan’s life and rule evoke a spectrum of interpretations, reflecting the multifaceted nature of historical legacies. In understanding his contributions and controversies, we are reminded of the intricate tapestry of history, woven with the threads of complex human experiences and the indelible marks they leave on the annals of time.

Feature Image: The image depicts Arun Shourie, identified as the Former Minister of Disinvestment, speaking to an audience. He is standing behind a lectern with microphones, gesturing with his right hand. In the background, banners display the logos of “Horasis” and “FICCI” alongside text that reads “Horasis Global India Business Meeting 2009.” (Click here to view image) [Credit]

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