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

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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.

yellapragada_sudershan_rao

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.

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  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.

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