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I think it was al-Beruni who remarked that the Indians have no sense of history and the historians of India particularly the Delhi University and JNU species are bending backwards to prove him right. The removal of one short essay by A K Ramnujam from the history syllabus has become a cause celebre for the faithful to rally around the flag; never mind that the flag is moth eaten and shows all signs of having been dragged through a lot of dirt and muck. The inane shenanigans of our historians would be entertaining, if only it were not so tragic in the consequences. Soon after Indira Gandhi came to power in 1967 the coterie of like minded historians got into the business of creating "progressive "history. They grandly marched under the banner of a small pahttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifmphlet written by 3 historians who remain till this day the icons of "progressive" historiography. The little pamphlet called Communalism and the Writing of Indian History became the manifesto of a whole new generation of historians who invaded and colonized the portals of Indian Universities. The UGC under the chairmanship of Satish Chandra and the Ministry of Education under Dr Nurul Hassan were all suborned to the cause of what this self appointed group pf historians called secular history.
The first target of this cabal was a multi volume history of India called the Bharatiya VIdhya Bhavan Series. They launched a frontal attack on this series calling the approach "communal". Like Stalin's henchman, Beria, this cabal discovered thought crimes and a mere fatwa from this cabal was enough to send tall historians like R C Majumdhar and H C Raychaudhuri scurrying for cover. Guilt by association made independent thinking impossible in the field of history. Now the so-called progressive historians term the removal of one small paper by A K Ramnujum as an instance of intolerance. I should now ask why did they have the entire series of books virtually banned from the curriculum of Departments of History all over the country. I grant that the BVB series does not qualify to rank as great works of history. However, it represented an honest attempt to make sense of India;s tangled past and it passed the one test this group demands from historiography. It did not blame Babur for the Ayodhya issue.It is ironical that a multi volume work termed as "communal" by this cabal of "progressive" historians does not blame Babur for the destruction of the Ayodhya temple. Like any political issue which moves with the ebb and tide of politics the issue of communalism is also a political football and the progressive historians can frame any issue as "communal" depending on the politics of the hour.
The example that I have given shows very clearly that the progressive historians are guilty of practicing academic goondaism of the worst kind when they had the BVB series banned from the field of historical discourse. Even on social issues the cabal of "progressive" historians are extremely primitive in their social attitudes. Is there a single Dalit Professor in the Department of History in JNU. Are dalits banned from the corridors of JNU. Even in Hyderabad Central University and in Delhi University this cabal of progressive historians have betrayed the Indian constitution by not encouraging the oppressed and suppressed people. Chandra Bahn has stated this in a number of different places. So let this group of state sponsored historians who are intolerant, narrow minded and offensive not talk about academic freedom. They do not deserve the freedom to ban writings they disagree with and defend only the opinions that they are comfortable with. History as a discipline demands an atmosphere where divergent views can be debated. This cabal has snuffed out debate in India by practicing selective outrage.
The essay in question can by no stretch of the imagination be regarded as a major contribution to the understanding of Ramayana. It does have shock value and little else. The one reason why the so called progressives are coming out of the woodwork in order to condemn the University is to create a wild controversy and with a crumbling UPA government in power they can cause a diversion. No great academic or historiographical principle is involved. The historians have themselves betrayed their profession and like prostitutes in a whorehouse cannot say that they valur chastity.