This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Is The ICHR Becoming A Hindutva Propaganda Machine Under The New Head?

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Saparya Sood:

The recent appointment of Prof Y Sudershan Rao as the chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research by the HRD ministry has been the Centre of a lot of controversial talk among the historian community. Rao’s appointment has been questioned by many due to his dubious credentials. With no writings published in any peer reviewed journals, which is sort of a bench mark of academic proficiency in his profession, Rao is hardly one who may be called an ‘eminent’ historian. It has also been alleged by some that the HRD ministry was given a list of suggestions for the post by ICHR which was completely ignored and Rao was made the chairman out of the blue. With many historians much more qualified and preferred for the post, Rao’s appointment looks like a politically motivated one.


ICHR is an autonomous organization which was established in 1972. The objectives of the ICHR are essentially to promote balanced and coordinated research and discussion of different areas of history by eliciting support and recognition for historical research from historians and to ensure the necessary dissemination and use of results.

Among other things, fueling the controversy about his appointment are his opinions on caste system in India that he has expressed on his blog. Rao claimed that the Caste system has been misinterpreted and is actually good. He also said that social customs in India can be traced to the period of Muslim rule in North India. Further, his objectives as Chairman include proving the authenticity of Mahabharata and tracing the exact date when it happened which most historians claim is a futile research as it has been done for centuries in the past but to no avail.

The appointment of Rao as the Chairman of ICHR has many perils. With scant or no regard or recognition by historians, there looms a shadow of distrust on ICHR under his leadership. To be a leader of an organization, it is a must that he is trusted and respected by those without whose able guidance, cooperation and support, he cannot move forward with any of his goals. It is indisputable that to excel in any social science, it is incumbent to be seen as academically worthy in the eyes of those who have already earnt recognition. How in such circumstances will Rao move ahead or solicit the cooperation of those who already despise him, is hard to fathom.

Rao’s opinions about casteism, Hindu mythological texts and other issues are largely reflective of his Hindutva ideology. How then will they remain ‘personal’ as he claimed in an interview and not color his perception about history? A leader so mired in personal bias and staunch beliefs about a subject which should only rely on facts and scientific proof cannot inspire untainted, fresh, unbiased and scientific approach to look into the past.

Among the many concerns that have raised eyebrows in the past couple of weeks are the motives of this government. Rao was also selected as a member of ICHR by the previous NDA regime. This coupled with utter disregard of more renowned historians much more worthy of the post has already painted Rao as the face of the government’s agent to promote Hindutva ideology. This is also a severe blow to the principles of secularism which is a basic feature of our constitution.

Moreover, Rao’s appointment which seems largely backed by a political agenda makes one question the autonomy of ICHR. Selecting a leader willing to invest funds in unguided research to establish the dates of Mahabharata and Ramayana without the cooperation and trust of other learned historians is a road full of dangers with a lot to lose. It’s not just the resources at stake, but the integrity of ICHR, an organization which many believe to be redundant already. Why can’t an autonomous body with the prime purpose to foster historical research have an elected chairman by the community of historians?

Distortion of history has been the cause of a lot of bloodshed in our country since ancient times. Ours is a diverse country in the widest possible meaning of that term and history unites as much as divides all of our people. It is and always will be a very sensitive topic in our nation. To take a scientific,and unbiased approach towards research work and to present it with sensitivity and sensibility is not just the duty but is incumbent on the head of an organization such as ICHR. With such a patchy start to his chairmanship, and little support from other historians to bank on, how far does Rao go fulfilling the role and responsibility thrust upon him by the government would be interesting to see.

You must be to comment.
  1. Prashant Kaushik

    Only someone who declares not just Caste System but also the Indian culture, Social Traditions, Religious customs, Indian Marriage system, Indian Mythological texts, in short entire Indian society and History as DYSFUNCTIONAL and CONFLICT RIDDEN, should be given the responsibility of writing down History.
    Eg. Romila Thapar, Ifran Habib or may be an economist like Amartya Sen.
    Marxist believes in ‘Conflict’ and ‘Class struggle’ as much Physicists believes in Newton’s laws.
    So what can provide a ground for such ‘Mass struggle’ ?
    The rational can be provided by highlighting ‘Internal conflicts within the society’. and that is what we have been taught of since childhood – to exaggerate the conflicts and fill our minds with filth and negativity.

    Mr writer, Let this be fallen on your deaf ears that Caste System=Racism or Caste System = Untouchability or Caste System = Dalit Oppression , i.e making Caste System synonymous only with Racism, Untouchability and Dalit Oppression is a result of Leftist interpretation of Indian society and history.. Many sociologists across the word, even in 19th-20th century i.e much before the birth of any Hindutva party .. have written that something functional and positive did exist in Indian caste system. Were they also members of what you call Hindutva propaganda ?

    Not just caste system, but almost every single feature of Indian History has been taught to us in a way so that we start seeing ‘Conflicts’ everywhere, so that the Leftist dream of a mass revolution can come true.. .
    Just because Marx said that Religion is opium of Masses, Indians have been taught to hate their Religion, their ancient arts and history ..

    I am no fan of Hindutva movement. I also recognize that there have been faults within our system, our society, and our history as well.
    But I am sick to see how school kids are taught to exaggerate the negativeness in our past and present much beyond what they actually were/are.
    If some one who does nt belong to this high momentum ‘Boggy’ of Leftist historians, he is stripped immediately of any credentials of being a historian.

  2. Suraj

    One would be horrified if one had a glimpse of Rao’s blog – FUNDAMENTALISM & EXTREMISM is at it’s height. History must be presented in a way that is unbiased and well-researched.

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
    ~ Carl Sagan

    While Rao has no evidence whatsoever to support his claims, they continue to plague the minds of the largely ignorant public.

  3. Dr Roshni Justin

    Same Storm by Same Winds.

    Its raucous created by only those who have been availing Grants from ICHR by keeping their Yes men in Chairs in ICHR.

    Such persons are not Historians but personal Book Writers who have been living on sponsorships and Royalties.

    First they ruined the career of a Military Historian whose name was linked with Babri Masjid. The whole Pack pounced on the Man who could have given ICHR his expertise on Nuclear Strategy.

    The then weak NDA directed action against the Director ICHR in 2003 on innocuous issues of 1997 onwards. The High Court of Delhi found rampant Mala fides against the Director in December 2006 and quashed his Suspension of 2003. But by that time the UPA was in saddle.

    It had suited the UPA to keep the man out whose name was linked with Ram Janam Bhoomi. Its learnt that the HRD Minister’s Office was written a letter that the Director has been proceeded against primarily for his closeness with RSS and BJP.

    The Director, ICHR was thus kept out and a Deputy Director in ICHR was given the additional charge of the post of Member Secretary, ICHR to keep the “Hindu Nationalist” out.

    When the things became hot in Court the Deputy Director , even being a subordinate, holding current duties of the post of Member Secretary Proposed to hold Inquiry against his Director to stay in power.

    They say more than Rupees Fifteen Lakhs were spent by ICHR under the direction of HRD Ministry to hold a Kangaroo Court by a retired High Court Judge wh was paid almost Rupees Five Lakhs for holding an Ex Parte Inquiry to hold the Military Historian guilty of two score charges of 1997-1998 vintage.

    In the end they put an end to a bright career of a Military Historian.
    Its understood the Military Historian has literally disappeared and may be nursing his wounds alone, hapless and helpless. The change in regimes brought no luck to the man who tried to bring culture of Research and curb corruption in ICHR

    Its time to put an end to dirty tricks .

    Dr Roshni Justin

    PS. Google for more information

  4. Manish

    Who are these so called historians opposing the current historians?

    They are leftist stooges and MacCaulay’s children, who have orchestrated a program over the past 200 years to distort India’s history. Distorting the history of a nation will leave the people without a sense of cultural pride in one’s nation.

    Indian history has unquestionably Hindu origins, and India is still very much a country rooted in Hindu pluralism.

    Down with the JNU historians.

    Down with William Darlymple.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Namrata Vijay

By Sneha Banerjee

By Silca

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below