Dissenters Call for India’s New Historiography

Published: 18th November 2015 05:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th November 2015 05:19 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: Striking a contrarian note to the ongoing intellectual protest against the alleged ‘dangerously pervasive atmosphere of narrowness, intolerance and bigotry’, a group of historians, archaeologists and scholars of Indian civilisation and others came out with a counter statement on Tuesday, charging that they were part of a well-orchestrated campaign to create a ‘bogeyman’. “They are neither intellectual nor academic in substance, but ideological and, much more so, political,” argued the group of 47 in a statement.

The group includes Dilip K Chakrabarti, emeritus professor, Cambridge University and dean at Vivekananda International Foundation; Dayanath Tripathi, former chairman, Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR); B B Lal, ex-director general, R S Bisht, ex-joint director general and B M Pande, ex-director of the Archaeological Survey of India; Nanditha Krishna, director, CPR Institute of Indological Research, Chennai; R Nagaswamy, ex-director of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu; and danseuse Padma Subrahmanyam. Alleging the protesting intellectuals as beneficiaries and products of what it termed the politico-ideological apparatus dominating institutions, including the ICHR since 1970, the group blamed the “new School, which may be called ‘Leftist’ for want of a better term”, of becoming synonymous with abusive and unscholarly practices.

They accused this school of employing a reductionist approach while viewing the society through the prism of caste to focus on exclusion while neglecting integration, and ignoring India’s knowledge systems in every field — philosophical, linguistic, literary, scientific, medical, technological or artistic. It denied the continuity and originality of Hindu-Buddhist-Jain-Sikh culture, and refused to acknowledge the brutality of Muslim rulers and the intolerance of the Church in Goa, Kerala and Puducherry, the statement said.

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