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Hindutva Takeover of Educational, Research and Cultural Bodies

India: Historical research a battlefield for BJP and RSS - reports and commentary

7 May 2015

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[posted below are a series of reports on the continuing reconstitution and control over historical research bodies by the Hindutva circuit in India]

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The Telegraph, May 6 , 2015

Editorial: Clio’s cause

History is obviously of considerable importance to the Bharatiya Janata Party. Otherwise it would not, every time it is in power, turn the Indian Council for Historical Research into a battlefield. Immediately after the present government came to power, the ICHR was reconstituted and a new chairman appointed. In a subsequent and a recent development, the entire advisory body of the Indian Historical Review (the journal that the ICHR publishes) has been removed. It so happens that among the removed advisors are some of India’s best historians - to name three, Romila Thapar, Muzaffar Alam and Richard Eaton. It will be no exaggeration to say that these three historians will be difficult, if not impossible, to replace in any advisory body that the new dispensation decides to appoint. There is, however, a more important point lurking behind this episode. Why should historians and history-writing become subjects of some kind of political vendetta? The writing of history - what the great historian, Marc Bloch called "the historian’s craft" - is a specialized professional activity. It follows that it should be left to historians and their peer group, and politicians should stay away from it. The craft of the historian thrives on debate and discussion among historians, and these arguments take place within the limits of an academic discourse and a general consensus that history-writing cannot establish, and should not aim to establish, one definite and incontrovertible Truth.

The politics of vendetta arises because of the insistence of some ideologically-driven individuals that their interpretation and version of history are the final word. It is undeniable that in the past the ICHR has been largely dominated by historians of a particular orientation. Those who cite this fact as evidence of bias deliberately overlook the point that Left-leaning historians were made members of the ICHR not because of their ideological predilections but because of their competence as professional historians and for their international peer-group recognition. A bigger question relates to the relevance of a body like the ICHR and to the involvement of the State in the writing of Indian history. Historians should be left alone in the pursuit of their research and their writing, and not be subjects of State patronage. The ICHR should be disbanded and that would bring to an end the State-sponsored vendetta against historians that has plagued the world of history-writing. A lot of energy and resources would thus be saved.

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Unwanted: history aces - ICHR disbands advisory panel by Basant Kumar Mohanty (4 May 2015 The Telegraph)

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On the ’right’ side of history at 95
by Gargi Gupta (DNA, 26 April 2015)

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The Hindu, NEW DELHI, April 20, 2015

Historian rues ‘right-wing’ turn at ICHR

Anuradha Raman

History is too important to be left to politicians, says Prof. Bhattacharya, who quit recently as chief editor of Indian Historical Review

Differences in approach to historical research triggered the recent resignation of historian Sabyasachi Bhattacharya as Chief Editor of Indian Historical Review, a journal published by the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR).

Though he denied any personal problems with ICHR Chairman Y. Sudershana Rao, appointed by the Modi government, Professor Bhattacharya was said to be upset with a general right-wing turn in history writing. Professor Rao from Kakatiya University, who headed the Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana, the history wing of the Sangh Parviar, had recommended a few names from the Parivar to the institute’s council.

“The record of the ICHR is not flawless, nor shall I claim, on behalf of the institute or the journal I humbly served, very great achievements. However, I doubt whether you would find instances of persons, nominated by the governments in power, regarding their position pro tem as a franchise to fantasise about history,” Professor Bhattacharya told The Hindu.

“There was by and large a liberal tolerance; I use the word liberal though it is pejorative in the idiom of the Left and the Right, towards differences in points of view. I do hope the ICHR will continue as a forum for expression of various approaches to Indian history. History is too important to be left to politicians.”

Denies differences

Y. Sudershana Rao, a Professor of History from Kakatiya University, who headed the Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana, the history wing of the Sangh Parivar, was appointed Chairman of the ICHR last June.

Professor Bhattacharya has denied that he had differences with Dr. Rao, but is said to be upset at the general right-wing turn in history writing.

Prof. Rao has recommended a few names from the Sangh Parivar to the ICHR. Asked about this, he said: “Following the resignation of Professor Bhattacharya, Professor Dilip Chakrabarti has been appointed to the post. The committee of the journal has been reconstituted.”

To a question on the right-ward turn of the ICHR, Prof. Rao quipped, “Was it left-ward earlier?”

However, the minutes of the meeting held on March 27, posted on the council’s website, give an indication of the direction the newly appointed members of the council want the ICHR to take. Some members, for instance, wanted a restructuring of the History syllabus taught in schools.

Another member demanded to know what had been done in the past 50 years as ICHR was in the hands of “fascist” historians. Yet another member wanted an authentic history of the ICHR to be written. One member wanted History to be linked to the tourism industry to generate jobs.

Others cautioned against the misuse of the ICHR by political parties at last month’s meeting.

Whether it was the slugfest at a memorial lecture — where the chief guest, a Belgian Professor of Philosophy, who said the reading of the Mahabharata was sufficient for an understanding of the past — which was followed by a loud protest or the heckling of the member secretary over a disagreement in the course of a lecture organised by the council, the ICHR is in the news for the wrong reasons.

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UNI report via Web India

RSS presence in ICHR raises fears of saffronisation of history

New Delhi | Sunday, Apr 19 2015 IST

The presence of two office bearers of RSS-backed Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana (ABISY) and a former professor who have been elevated as members of the recently reconstituted Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) has given ammunition to charges of saffronisation of one of the country’s premier institute. The 18-member council of ICHR has been reconstituted with professor emeritus of South Asian Archeology Dilip K Chakarbarti, professor of History of University of Calicut V V Haridas, former professor and Head of Department in University of Kalyani Nikhilesh Guha and HoD of Department of Buddhist Studies of University of Jammu Baidyanath Labh. Besides, there is associate professor of Delhi University’s Gargi College Meenakshi Jain and former associate professor of Delhi’s Hansraj College Saradindu Mukherjee, both well-known Left baiters. In addition, there are two Akhil Bharatiya Itihaas Sankalan Yojna (ABISY) office bearers Narayan Rao, a professor at Berhampur University in Odisha, and Ishwar Sharan Vishwakarma, a professor of Ancient History, Archaeology and Culture at Gorakhpur University. Though the revamp of the new council for the next three years was on the cards as its term had expired in December last year, the reconstitution has onlyadded grist to critics’ charge that the RSS apparatchiks were losing no time to rewrite history. Reports claim that the RSS is writing the history of more than 670 districts and 600 tribal communities in the country and has been busy with their decade-long project of their version of Indian history based on the Puranas. Despite outcry in some quarters, NCERT textbooks are being rewritten to inculcate feelings of patriotism among students and correct the ’’communal’’ interpretation of Indianhistory that left readers ’’humilated’’ about the past. Now Right historians are invoking India’s glorious past:

Invariably suspicion has grown that the Modi Government’s sweeping electoral victoryhas emboldened Sangh affiliates such as the Akhil Bharatiya Itihaas Sankalan Yojna (ABISY), which has set up the Bharatiya Puran Adhyayan Sansthan (Indian Institute of Purana Studies) within the RSS headquarters in Delhi. Despite the RSS denials, there are few takers of their claims of not dictatingeducation policy with their suspicions heightened after Ms Irani declared that Hindutexts should be included in school curriculum so that ’’values and nationalism’’ couldbe included in the syllabus, a plan wholly backed by none other that Dinanath Batra, whowants NCERT textbooks to be rewritten to promote nationalistic feelings amongchildren. MORE UNI SD RN AJ

— (UNI) —


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