In an addition to the list of key people in bodies under HRD Ministry who resigned in the recent past, the member secretary of Indian Council of Historical Research Gopinath Ravindran has quit the prestigious organisation midway through his term. The resignation comes amid growing perception of his differences with the council chairperson and his concerns regarding the functioning of the council.
The resignation will have to be placed before the council for approval, following which it will be forwarded to the HRD Ministry.
Ravindran, a historian on deputation from Jamia Millia Islamia university, was appointed ICHR’s member secretary in 2013 under the UPA II regime. The term of a member secretary is three years.
Two council members who did not wish to be identified confirmed that Ravindran, who did his PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University, had resigned.
Ravindran’s phone was switched off and ICHR chairman Y Sudershan Rao did not respond to calls or texts from The Indian Express. While Ravindran’s resignation sent to Rao earlier this week does not cite any reasons for his step, sources said the move could be due to his discomfort with the “direction the council was taking”.
At the ICHR foundation day lecture in March, Ravindran had been heckled by the audience when he tried to disagree with some points made by Vedic teacher and Padma awardee David Frawley.
Sources also pointed towards Ravindran’s growing differences with Rao, who was appointed chairperson by the Smriti Irani-led ministry in the middle of last year. Days into his new office, Rao had stirred a controversy with posts on his blog, including one praising the ancient caste system.
The sources added that the differences became evident when Ravindran opposed the council’s decision during a meeting to throw out the editorial board and advisory committee of ‘Indian Historical Review’ that included eminent historian Romila Thapar. Ravindran was managing editor of IHR.
Concerns have also been raised about a “saffron” tinge in the council after new members were nominated earlier this year.
In a recent meeting of the research projects committee, potential research on themes like “ancient Indian history based on Sanskrit texts” and “revisiting the theme of Aryan immigration into India”, while also studying “new approaches to writing Ancient Indian History” were discussed. As per the minutes, Ravindran seemed to disagree with the broad nature of research themes, suggesting that instead of “general themes and large questions being topics of research, more focused themes should be taken up so that the projects could be completed in two years…”