Tampering with history

Lakshmi Srinivas lsrinivas at YAHOO.COM
Thu Jun 18 12:52:54 UTC 1998

Well, this is not the first time. They tried doing that in 1977-80 too
when they re-wrote the school history textbooks. Many school teachers
at that time agreed that the new textbooks, which now had a pronounced
saffron aspect, were nowhere near the old ones even in terms of
production quality, leave alone in terms of presenting Indian history
as accepted by a majority of scholars.

This has some relevance for recent discussion in this forum as the
Cambridge History of India and the Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan histories
have rightly been deplored by some eminent ZiSTAs (although the
recommended alternative is not without problems viz., Kulke-Rothemund
with its  Kossinna-esque terminology like "Indo-Germans"). Well, you
ain't seen nothin' yet! Wait for their new volumes on Indian history.

I guess this would mean that Saraswati will now begin to overflow
(with funds) and we may truthfully say naditame!

On a lighter note, the impact of this on the dating of the RV will be
immediate. It will be dated to ca. 10,000 BC at least.

Warm Regards.

---Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan  wrote:
> In light of the on-going debate about the Aryan Migration Theory, I
thought a
> recent editorial (June 12, 1998) entitled Tampering with History
from The
> Hindu will be of interest to the scholars interested in archaeology,
> revisionism in history, etc. I am quoting it below.
> Regards
> S. Palaniappan
> "THE BJP GOVERNMENT'S decision to reconstitute the Indian Council for
> Historical Research (ICHR), nominating persons who have supported
the Sangh
> Parivar's divisive campaign on the Ayodhya issue, suggests a
disturbing effort
> to
> undermine the scientific temper that must serve as the basis for
> enquiry. All the 18 nominated members who were hitherto part of the
> Council - and all of them professional historians of repute - have
been shown
> the door. Even if it be true that they had completed their
three-year term for
> which they were appointed members of the Council and the prerogative
> making such appointments rests solely with the Ministry for Human
> Development, it is certainly cause for concern that most of those
who have
> been nominated were identified with the Sangh Parivar's partisan
> and distorted representation of historical facts.
> Leading the pack of the new nominees is Prof. B. B. Lal, a former
> General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI); Prof. Lal had
carried out
> extensive excavations around the site where the Babri Masjid stood
as part of
> an ASI-sponsored project on the Ramayana sites; his initial
conclusion was
> that there was no evidence to suggest the ``historicity'' of the
Ramayana from
> the sites where he had carried out excavations. Yet, a few years
later, when
> the Ayodhya controversy was made into a vehicle for political
> Prof. Lal began echoing the Sangh Parivar and even claimed to possess
> ``clinching'' evidence suggesting that the Babri Masjid stood on the
ruins of
> a Hindu temple. What is surprising in this case is that Prof. Lal
did not care
> to explain his ``new'' findings by way of facts obtained by him in
the course
> of the excavations. Interestingly, he even now refuses to hand over
his field
> diaries to the ASI and throw them open to fellow archaeologists; the
> diaries are an important source material for any serious and
> research in archaeology. Similarly, there are some known RSS
pracharaks who
> have been nominated members of the Council while historians of
repute - all
> those who had differed with the Sangh Parivar's views on Ayodhya as
well as on
> other aspects of historical research - have been refused
renomination. This
> suggests a more worrying game plan, given the Sangh Parivar's track
record in
> relation to the uses of history.
> Apprehensions of this kind have been substantiated by a related
decision. The
> resolution by the Ministry for Human Resource Development - nodal
> 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
> 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 re-write history. The constitution of the
> exclusively with members who endorse the Sangh Parivar's definition of
> nationalism - its basis being exclusivism - and the related changes
in the
> objectives the ICHR must serve as clear indications of this larger
project and
> hence cause concern."

Lakshmi Srinivas

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