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HVK Archives: Fabrications On The Way To The Funeral

Fabrications On The Way To The Funeral - India Connect website

Arun Shourie ()
June 27, 1998.

Title: Fabrications On The Way To The Funeral
Author: Arun Shourie
Publication: India Connect website
Date: June 27, 1998.

"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

"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having been replaced by "national".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

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 [No. 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 history...."

I have before me the statement of the Ministry of
Human Resources Development [No. 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 favourite 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 conspiracy !

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 historical research."

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
these "historians".

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 entrepreneurial ventures.

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

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 trouble?

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 funeral.

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