"Rational vs. National," screams the headline of
the new pall-bearer of secularism, the magazine Outlook. "Fresh
evidence available with Outlook," the story announces, "reveals that
not only has the ICHR [the Indian Council of Historical Research]
been packed with 'sympathizers' but a new statement of objectives or
resolution [sic.] has been added, changing certain key words from
the original Memorandum of Association of 1972, legitimised by an
Act of Parliament. While the original Memorandum of Association
states that ICHR's aims would be to give 'rational' direction to
historical research and foster 'an objective and scientific writing
of history', the new resolution, which will be included in the
Gazette of India, states that ICHR now seeks to give a 'national'
direction to an 'objective and national presentation of history'.
So, 'rational' has been changed to 'national', and 'scientific' too
has been changed to 'national'..."
"Tampering with history," proclaims the old pall-
bearer, The Hindu. "Apprehensions of this kind [that the fabled
'Sangh parivar' is out to rewrite history] have been substantiated
by a related decision. The resolution by the Ministry of Human
Resource Development -- nodal Ministry under which the ICHR comes --
that details the new nominations carries with it an amendment to the
Memorandum of Association by which the ICHR was set up; while the
institution was set up 'to foster objective and scientific writing
of history such as will inculcate an informed appreciation of the
country's national and cultural heritage,' the new Government's
mandate is that the ICHR will give a 'national direction' to an
objective and national presentation and interpretation of history'.
This amendment is certainly not just a matter of semantics. Instead,
one can clearly see in this an intention on the part of the BJP-led
Government to rewrite history...."
The next issue of the CPI(M) mouthpiece, Peoples
Democracy, reproduces this editorial ! And carries with it an
article by one of the ring-leaders, K. N. Panicker. "Saffronization
of historical research," proclaims the heading. Panicker repeats the
charge of the word "rational" having been replaced by "national". He
adds another : the Memorandum of Association of the ICHR mentions
five objectives, he says, but the Resolution put out by the
Saffron-brigade mentions only two.
Thus, the charge rests on three bits of "evidence"
: that the Memorandum of Association of the ICHR has been changed;
second, that a word -- "rational" -- in the Resolution announcing
the new members of the ICHR has been surreptitiously replaced by
another word -- "national"; third, that while the original
Memorandum of Association specifies five objectives for the ICHR,
the new Resolution cuts out three of these.
Having been educated by The Hindu that the "nodal
ministry" for the matter is the Ministry of Human Resource
Development, I ring up the Secretary of that Ministry. Has the
Memorandum of Association of the ICHR been changed?, I ask. No, he
says. It has not been changed, he says.
And then about the Resolution announcing the new
members. The allegation, you will recall, is that the aim which in
the Memorandum of Association is, "to give a national direction to
an objective and RATIONAL presentation and interpretation of
history..., " has been altered in the Resolution to read, "to give a
national direction to an objective and NATIONAL presentation and
interpretation of history...."
I have before me the statement of the Ministry of
Human Resources Development [Number F 30-28/86-U3] dated 6th
October, 1987, that is of eleven years ago. It gives the text of the
Resolution of the Government of India announcing the new members --
announcing, among other things, that Irfan Habib is being appointed
as Chairman with retrospective effect from 9 September, 1986. The
corresponding expression in it is, "to give a national direction to
an objective and NATIONAL presentation and interpretation of
I have before me the statement of the Ministry of
Human Resources Development [Number F. 30-13/89-U3] dated 15th May,
1991. It gives the text of the Resolution of the Government of India
announcing the new members -- announcing, among other things, that
Irfan Habib is being re-appointed as Chairman with retrospective
effect from 12 March, 1990. The corresponding expression in it is,
"to give a national direction to an objective and NATIONAL
presentation and interpretation of history..."
To test my hypothesis yet again, I look for and
obtain the immediately preceding statement of the Ministry. It bears
the number F 30-3/94-U.3, and is dated 8th September, 1994. Like the
others, it furnishes the text of the Resolution of the Government of
India announcing the new members -- announcing, among other things,
that Ravinder Kumar, another "historian" of the same hue, is being
appointed as Chairman with retrospective effect from 8 September,
1990. The corresponding expression in it is, "to give a national
direction to an objective and NATIONAL presentation and
interpretation of history..."
That is how far I am able to get on my own. I
request the Secretary of the Ministry : can he please request
someone to look up the Resolutions of the earlier years, and see
whether they contain anything different? Can he help me trace when
this "alteration" got made ?
Till the time of my dispatching this article, the
Secretary has been able to trace Resolutions going back up to 1978
-- that is, twenty years. Each of them carries the very same words
The research of the Secretary and his colleagues
establishes that -- to reproduce the word the Secretary uses -- the
whole mystery has arisen from a "typographical error" : some typist
banging away on his typewriter some twenty-odd years ago typed
"rational" as "national". As each typist, when asked to type out the
subsequent Resolution, copied the preceding one, that word continued
to be typed as "national" year after year. The leftists inferred no
conspiracy. But, lo and behold, now that a BJP Government is in
power, inferring conspiracies -- to use their favorite phrase -- is
a historical necessity. It is objective history! It is progressive
methodology! Perhaps they will put on their Sherlock Holmes caps
again, and establish that the Governments of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, of
Rajiv Gandhi, of V. P. Singh, of Narasimha Rao have all been in
league with the RSS, and therefore parties to this grave
I then ring up Mr. Vinod Mehta, the editor of
Outlook. "But the reporter says she has the text and everything," he
says. I narrate what I have found. He promises to check and get back
to me. When we talk again he says he has sent me the text of the
Resolution. But that is the current one. My point was that the
"change" which Outlook had built its story on has existed in all
Resolutions for at least twenty years. He says he will get back to
me. That is where matters stand.
The exact same thing holds for that fabrication of
K. N. Panicker : about five objectives having become two. In every
single one of the Resolutions -- including the 1994 Resolution under
which this man was himself nominated to the ICHR, a Resolution he
can find printed at page 342 of The Gazette of India, October 22,
1994 -- the exact same sentences are used : only those objectives
are mentioned as are mentioned in the Resolution issued this year !
And another thing : if an RSS publication publishes even an
interview with me, that is further proof of my being communal; but
so tough are the hymen of these progressives that, even when they
contribute signed articles to publications of the Communist Party,
their virginity remains in tact !
As I have had occasion to document several times in
the past, such forgeries, such allegations are the standard
technology of this school. Fabricating conspiracy theories is their
well-practiced weapon. And they have a network : stories containing
the same "facts" about the ICHR figured in paper after paper. In The
Asian Age on June 6 : "ICHR revamp has RSS tilt." In the Indian
Express on June 8 : "Historians cry foul as HRD Ministry paints ICHR
saffron." In the Hindustan Times on June 9 : "Historians see saffron
in ICHR appointments." In The Hindu editorial of June 12 :
"Tampering with history." In Outlook of June 22 which was on the
stands on June 15. The frontmen having spoken, the master steps
forth -- the Peoples Democracy of June 21 : "Saffronization of
The associated charge, repeated in Outlook and all
the other publications, is that historians who have been now
nominated to the ICHR are ones who supported the proposition that
there had been a Ram-temple at Ayodhya before it was replaced by the
Babri Mosque. Assume that the charge is entirely correct. What about
the members who have not been re-nominated ? They were the
intellectual guides and propagandists of the Babri Masjid Action
Committee. They represented it at the meetings Mr Chandrashekhar's
Government had convened for settling the matter by evidence. That
was an outstanding initiative of Mr Chandrashekhar : for such
contentious issues ought to be dissolved in the acid of evidence.
These leftist "historians" attended the initial meetings. They put
together for and on behalf of the Committee "documents". It is a
miscellaneous pile. It becomes immediately evident that these are no
counter to the mass of archaeological, historical and literary
evidence which the VHP has furnished, that in fact the "documents"
these guides of the Babri Committee have piled up further
substantiate the VHP's case, these "historians", having undertaken
to attend the meeting to consider the evidence presented by the two
sides, just do not show up !
It is this withdrawal which aborted the initiative
that the Government had undertaken of bringing the two sides
together, of introducing evidence and discourse into the issue.
Nothing but nothing paved the way for the demolition as did this
running away by these "historians". It was the last nail : no one
could be persuaded thereafter that evidence or reason would be
allowed anywhere near the issue.
Not only were these "historians" the advisers of
the Babri Masjid Action Committee, its advocates in the
negotiations, they simultaneously issued all sorts of statements
supporting the Babri Masjid Committee's case -- which was the "case"
they had themselves prepared! A well-practiced technique, if I may
say so : they are from a school in which members have made each
other famous by reviewing each others books!
Not just that. These very "historians" are cited as
witnesses in the pleadings filed by the Sunni Waqf Board in the
courts which are considering the Ayodhya matter!
Their deceitful role in Ayodhya -- which in the end
harmed their clients more than anyone else -- was just symptomatic.
For fifty years this bunch has been suppressing facts and inventing
lies. How concerned they are about that objective of the ICHR -- to
promote objective and rational research into events of our past. How
does this square with the guidelines issued by their West Bengal
Government in 1989 which Outlook itself quotes -- "Muslim rule
should never attract any criticism. Destruction of temples by Muslim
rulers and invaders should not be mentioned" ? But their wholesale
fabrications of the destruction of Buddhist vihars, about the
non-existent "Aryan invasion" -- to question these is to be
communal, chauvinist ! It is this which has been the major crime of
But these are not just partisan "historians". They
are nepotists of the worst kind. I had documented several years ago
the doings of some of them in regard to the appointments in the
Aligarh Muslim University. Their doings in the ICHR have been true
to pattern. How is it that over twenty five years persons from their
school alone have been nominated to the ICHR? How come that Romila
Thapar has been on the Council four times ? Irfan Habib five times?
Satish Chandra four times? S Gopal three times?... The same goes for
the post of Chairman.
Not only are these "historians" partisan, not only
are they nepotists, they are ones who have used State patronage to
help each other in many, many ways. Let me give two examples, and
make four specific proposals for the Ministry -- that "nodal
Ministry", remember -- which has been their instrument in all these
By a brain-wave a milch-cow was thought up : it is
no use having books only in English, these worthies, dedicated as
they were to the cause of the illiterate downtrodden Indians,
argued; we must have the works of leading historians translated into
our regional languages. And which were the "historians" whose books
-- old, in many cases out-of-date books -- got selected for
translation ? R S Sharma : five books. Romila Thapar : three books.
Irfan Habib : two books -- one being a collection of articles. Bipan
Chandra : two books. Muhammad Habib : three books. D N Jha : two
books. S Gopal : four books. Nurul Hasan : two books.... In a word,
the "historians" discovered, I am sure much to their embarrassment,
that they were themselves the leading historians ! All these, but
not Professor R C Majumdar ! Even sundry leaders of the Communist
parties got the honour -- E. M. S. Namboodripad, P C Joshi, even
Rajni Palme Dutt, the leader of the British Communist Party who
functioned as the controller and director of the Indian Communists
in the forties. As a result, the books and pamphlets of these
fellows are available in all regional languages, but the works of
even Lokmanya Tilak are not available except in Marathi! And that
too because of the Kesari Trust, no thanks to the ICHR.
My query is : did these persons get royalties paid
to themselves, if so how much, for the honour they had conferred on
themselves of having their books translated on the ground that they
were the leading historians of the country -- a ground which they
had prepared so well by arranging reviews of each other's books
Second, in 1972, almost simultaneously with the
establishment of the ICHR, a project was launched to collect and
publish a record of the Freedom Struggle from the Indian point of
view. The British had launched their Transfer of Power Documents
series -- which deliberately made out that the British were ever so
ready to leave, and it was only the cussedness of and discord among
Indians which delayed their doing so. The project was to be based on
Indian documents. Its budget was to be a few lakhs. Ten volumes were
to be brought out in five years.
The scholars who were to undertake the job ? Yours
forever : S Gopal, Bipan Chandra, Ravinder Kumar, Sumit Sarkar,
Parthasarthi Gupta, Mushirul Hasan, K. N. Panicker etc. -- in other
words, the same lot of like-minded friends!
Twenty seven years have gone by. Not a few lakhs,
instead two crores of Rupees have been spent. The project is lost in
the wilderness -- one of the major scandals of Indian academia.
Not just that. These were leftists. At various
stages, the leftists had done their best to thwart the Freedom
Movement. Salivating at the thought that by doing so they would
attract Muslim youth to their fold, the Communist Party had
supported the demand for the Partition of India. And so, the
dedicated historians who had been conveniently handed the project,
did everything to suppress documents, and derail volumes which could
not but have brought the facts about the left on record.
That is history. That is objective history. Not to
take these fellows back on to the ICHR is to colour it saffron.
So, my query to the Ministry is : who has got how
much of the two crores which are said to have been spent on the
Towards Freedom Project?
Third, the ICHR has been the funnel for a larger
amount of largesse than most other academic bodies. Will the
Ministry please furnish how much money has been paid to whom under
the guise of National Fellowships and Senior Fellowships? And
against each project for which the grant has been disbursed, will
the Ministry please indicate what happened to the project -- with
the name of the scholar in capital letters, if that is not too much
Fourth, the ICHR has been the conduit for
patronizing scholars through travel grants. It isn't just the
foreign trip that the grants get one. More important are the
impressions that are created : the "scholar" gets known abroad as a
leading historian of India, his drivel comes to be regarded as the
Voice of Indian History; and back home, each trip redoubles his
influence -- for one thing, by confirming the fact that he is close
to the sources of patronage. So, my query to the Ministry is : since
1972, who has got how much of these travel grants ?
The fabrications show that this secularist tribe is
on its last legs. The answers will speed the