As you take a turn near the Mysore Bank Circle, there are many old buildings lining the road giving you the feel of the bygone British era. The century-old building of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) is the first you come across.
The institute was recently in the news when Metro Rail workers found a cannon while carrying out underground works near Vani Vilas Hospital.
It also happens to be the only dedicated centre in South India for the study of History, Archaeology and Anthropology which also offers assistance to researchers and scholars in the field.
The southern regional centre also has a library of 18,000 books and 1,500 maps that include rare topo sheets. Students from other neighbouring states also come here to refer the books.
S K Aruni, Deputy Director, ICHR says,“Our library does not require any membership, but everyone is welcome to the library where you can find everything from old maps, books on culture and demography. We do not lend books though.
We also go to remote places in the state and collaborate with as many colleges as possible. We promote historical studies by offering research project grant, research scholarships, senior fellowships and post doctoral fellowships. A lot of research projects are undertaken or sponsored every year and new findings are brought out in print.”
The Council provides fellowships and financial assistance to the young teachers in colleges, universities and registered research organisations, as well as to senior scholars who might need financial support. They also help authors to publish books under its Publication Subsidy Scheme, the majority of which are doctoral dissertations approved by the Council after rigorous scrutiny.
Dr Aruni emphasises that we need a scientific approach towards history. Pointing towards the photographs, which were part of the exhibition titled ‘Age of Vijayanagara: Society and Culture’ last year, which gives a glimpse of the history of South India in the 14-17th centuries, he says that the history books written about India in the pre independence era are often misleading.
Quoting an interesting incident, he tells us that when former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited England in 1972 she read a book titled ‘Transfer of Power’ which had an entirely different story about India and she was surprised to read many such misrepresentations.
Aruni adds, ‘‘We are not sure how true this incident is. But after reading the book, Mrs Gandhi apparently felt that there was an urgent need for an institute in our country which could document our history without giving any scope for version which are factually incorrect and hence ICHR was started.”