Monday, July 7, 2014

Kavitha Iyer - Coming soon from Modi sarkar: RSS takeover of top research, cultural bodies

The new chairperson of the Indian Council of Historical Research, Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, has an interesting blog post from 2013, about 'Ayodhya and History'.
"All thinking men -- religious activists, intellectuals, politicians, professional historians and archaeologists- are divided into at least three groups; a) those who stand for the Hindu cause, b) those who stand for the Mosque and c) the majority of others who support an amicable settlement of the controversy. In influencing the public opinion in favour of Muslim community, the ‘secular’ historians and ‘progressive’ intelligentsia make concerted endeavor in support of the Muslim cause. They further condemn all those who sympathize the Hindu cause as Hindu fundamentalists and ‘saffron brigade’."
Rao goes on to argue that modern history -- which he claims has received disproportionate attention and legitimacy -- will be unable to provide answers to the Ayodhya issue since "Ayodhya stood even before the modern genre of history was born."

A retired history professor, Rao has penned several articles arguing that stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are truthful accounts of history. According to his blog page, he has interests in Indian mythology, Vedic literature, Sanatana Dharma, 'Bharatiya Sanskriti', among other subjects. Rao reportedly told The Telegraph that he hopes to push projects to rewrite ancient history to document the “continuous Indian civilisation”, including the period of the two epics.

"The stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata cannot be termed a-historical just because there is not enough archaeological hard evidence," Rao said, adding,“A lot of historical material has come through cultural, anthropological, archaeological and ethnographic studies in the last 60 years about the continuous Indian civilisation. The findings can be compiled by researchers. I think the ICHR should support historians interested in doing work on these aspects."

Rao's elevation is the first of the many NDA decisions that will determine who will lead India's top research, educational and cultural institutions. Asked if he foresees a flood of RSS-sympathetic appointments to these institutions, former ICHR chairperson and historian S Settar retorts, "Do you doubt it? I don't."

Settar was ICHR chairman from 1996 to 1999, and was witness to a gradual Hindutva takeover of socio-cultural research organisations in the late 1990s. After the UPA assumed office in 2004, Settar was also on a review committee that examined NCERT books published by the BJP government. The committee discussed the safronisation of the texts at length and recommended replacing them. Speaking to Firstpost, Settar says, "There are many rightist corners hungry to get into the ICHR. But in any case, it is such an incompetent organisation -- the Leftists have used it as a platform for their ideology and friends, and now the rightists will want to use it for their ideology and friends."

ICHR will hardly be the only institution to see top-level changes given the BJP's track record in power. In 1999, not long after the NDA government was sworn in, a slew of appointments were made, including some on the very first day after then HRD minister Murli Manohar Joshi assumed office.. read more:

Also see:
NDA government's (1998) brazen attempt to 'revise' Gandhi's Collected Works
Here is the report of the first NDA government's (1998) brazen attempt to 'revise' Gandhi's Collected Works. Hundreds of whimsical deletions and changes were noticed by well-known scholars and Gandhians in India and around the world, who viewed them as an insult to scholarship, and demanded an end to such attempts to play with historical documents. Read the history of the controversy. Tridip Suhrud, now director of Sabarmati Ashram, wrote a detailed analysis of this shameless behaviour in EPW in November 2004. It was only after the defeat of the NDA government that the fraudulently 'revised' edition of the CWMG was withdrawn, in 2005. See more:
Modi says Congress committed 'sin' of partition // The Non-politics of the RSS

Purushottam Agrawal's query under RTI to Ministry of Home Affairs Regarding Possible Destruction of Historical Records