SV: ICHR controversey

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Wed Mar 1 10:02:04 UTC 2000

Vishal Agarwal [SMTP:vishalagarwal at HOTMAIL.COM] skrev 01. mars 2000 08:15:
> In the latest controversy over the withdrawal of books by ICHR, the
> secularist press is projecting Dr. Panniker as a victim who is a neutral
> historian. I suggest that list members read this interview by Dr. Panniker
> himself and decide if such a person is capable of writing an objective work
> of history:
> The interview clearly states that Dr. Pannniker applies the Marxist
> methodology in his work.

So what? I read the interview, and there is nothing inherently wrong in what
Panikkar says. He stresses the use of an identifiable method, which is what all
professional historians strive for, Marxist or not.

This debate reminds me of a talk on the BBC I heard last year. Two
conservatives were discussing Marx, and they agreed that M. had been right in
his analysis of the capitalism of his day, but wrong in his evaluation of the
future possibilities of capitalist society. The fact is that certain Marxist
ideas have stuck in Western academia, regardless of people's political
orientation, simply because they conform with observed facts. The difference
between a "Marxist" historian in the strict sense and an historian occasionally
drawing on certain Marxist ideas is that the non-Marxist is eclectic, whereas
the Marxist historian usually "buys the whole package" and becomes doctrinaire.
That sort of Marxism has lost considerable influence in the West, particularly
after the fall of Communism and will certainly lose influence in India too,
Hindutva or not. However, the views expressed by Panikkar in the interview
would undoubtedly be acceptable to most Western historians.

Rewriting history is one thing, rewriting method is a totally different
proposition. The failure of Hindutva history to convince is caused by its
intellectual poverty and the obvious fact that history is written to support
certain political agendas. The West has seen more than its share of this kind
of history writing, and professionals are simply not impressed by the products
that are coming from India these days. It is the same old stuff with curry.

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo
Phone/Fax: +47 22 32 12 19
Email: lmfosse at

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