NEW DELHI: The crucial general council meeting of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), chaired by its former boss by Y S Sudarshan Rao, cleared a host of projects, including a ‘gurukul scheme’ to nurture postdoctoral scholars on Tuesday.
The meeting was preceded by informal deliberations among the council members on the present position of Rao, who had quit in November last year, and under what capacity he would be chairing the meeting. Sources said Rao underscored the fact that he continued to remain the chairman as his resignation has not been accepted by the HRD Ministry. According to a source, Rao has been attending office for the past one month ever since he was informally asked by the ministry to carry on with his responsibilities.
A few members stayed away from the meeting. Among them was historian Dilip K Chakrabarti, whose travel fare from Cambridge to Delhi the government refused to pay.
Among the projects approved was the ‘Gurukul Revival Programme’ under which historians engaged in ancient Indian science and technology, ancient Indian art and architecture will be requested to recruit a postdoctoral scholar with research experience as an assistant for two years. The meeting decided to constitute a committee to prepare a blue print for the programme. The council has proposed remuneration for both the research assistant and the historian. It will pay `28,000 per month to the former and set aside a contingency grant of `60,000 a year for two years for the guru.
Later on, addressing a foundation day lecture, eminent historian Prof Satish Chandra Mittal sought to dispel the myth that there was no concept of a nation, nationalism or national consciousness in India in ancient or pre-colonial times. He said references to nationalism can be traced to the Rig Veda as well as the Mahabharata which western historians have very conveniently forgotten.
Slamming western and Marxist historians for “demeaning” national leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru, Mittal said their understanding of Indian history was biased and not based on facts and sound interpretation. Mittal is the national president of the All India Itihas Sankalan Yojana, an RSS body and one of the six petitioners who demanded a ban on Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History. Coming down heavily on British historians, he said even Marxist historians in the country did not admit the role of Indian leaders till leaders from Russia began to praise them. “Indian Marxists took the various movements in a casual way. To them, Swadeshi movement could not gain mass support and Gandhi initiated non-cooperation movement for the middle class and not for the masses.”
Boost for women, disabled scholars
To ensure the participation of more women and students with disabilities in PhD programmes, Union Minister Smriti Irani announced a slew of measures, including maternity leave and a two-year extension for both categories of scholars to submit thesis papers.