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History Congress takes dig at PM: ‘don’t distort past’

In a resolution passed in its platinum jubilee session at the JNU, the IHC called for “defence of scientific method in history”.

Written by Aditi Vatsa | New Delhi | December 31, 2014 3:39:24 am
Vice President, Hamid Ansari addressing at the “Platinum Jubilee Session of the Indian History Congress”, organised by the Jawaharlal Nehru University, in New Delhi on on Sunday. (PTI Photo) Vice President, Hamid Ansari addressing at the “Platinum Jubilee Session of the Indian History Congress”, organised by the Jawaharlal Nehru University, in New Delhi on on Sunday. (PTI Photo)

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s earlier statement citing “plastic surgery” and “genetic science” to explain the creation of Lord Ganesh and Karna respectively, the Indian History Congress (IHC) on Tuesday cautioned the government against making statements which “distort the past”.

In a resolution passed in its three-day platinum jubilee session at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, the IHC called for “defence of scientific method in history”.

“Unfortunately, even the Prime Minister has suggested that in the hoary past, Indians had learnt, and then forgotten, plastic surgery of a kind going far beyond what is now possible. There is widespread belief that soon textbooks will be revised or rewritten, to inculcate such a strongly misleading and divisive brand of history among pupils in our schools,” it said, referring to Modi’s statement at a Mumbai event in October where he had linked mythology with medical science.

“It also calls upon all members of the political establishment to refrain from making statements contrary to well-established historical facts. They should understand that loose or irresponsible statements of this kind tarnish the good repute of this country,” said the resolution.

Underlining the importance of “scientific method in history”, the IHC expressed apprehension about “voices being raised in certain influential quarters on the need to rewrite Indian history through an abundant use of ancient mythology and speculative chronology, while fresh myths, like that of Indians originally peopling the whole world, are being created.”

The resolution, adopted by the 20-member executive committee of the IHC late on Monday, was passed in the general body meeting with more than 300 members in attendance on Tuesday afternoon. “The issue came up in the executive committee and then the general body meeting where it was unanimously passed. No objections were raised,” said Bhairabi Prasad Sahu, outgoing IHC executive committee member who teaches at Delhi University.

This is not the first time that the IHC has passed resolutions countering the central government. “Some years ago, when the NDA government tried to remove the NCERT textbooks written by Romila Thapar, Bipan Chandra — not Left-leaning or Right-leaning, but leading historians of the country — the IHC had passed a resolution. Apart from the resolution, three historians — Irfan Habib, Suvira Jaiswal and I — also wrote an entire booklet on errors of facts in the new textbooks. At that time too, there was an attempt to communalise history writing,” said Aditya Mukherjee, IHC’s executive committee member who teaches at JNU.

“There has always been an attempt by the BJP and the Sangh Parivar to rewrite history… Mythology is not history. In the last six months, many statements have been made which show that a certain amount of intolerance is being spilled and the discipline is facing a threat. Keeping this context in mind, the IHC passed this resolution,” said V Krishna Ananth, IHC member who was present at the general body meeting. Ananth teaches history at Sikkim University.

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