Monday, November 2, 2015

"This is the real reason why our history books are in tatters.."

Prof Dilip Chakrabarti
Said : Prof Dilip Chakrabarti, Dean, Centre for Historical and Civilisational Studies, The Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) and Professor Emeritus, Department of Archaeology, Cambridge University to Rajiv MalhotraIndian-American researcher, author, speaker : Current affairs, inter-civilization, science. This was revealed, in a tweet, by Rahul Singh @Rahul_aryanab

It is worth noting that, in March this year, HRD Minister Smriti Irani had appointed Prof Chakrabarti as member of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR). As per the media reports Irani appointed  Prof Chakrabarti overruling the recommendation of its chairperson Y Sudershan Rao.

I just stumbled upon this tweet on my TL and found it quite interesting. I am no expert in history, or for that in any other field worth mentioning, but this piece highlighted with yellow colour drew my attention and I got an opportunity to read it carefully. I must confess, however, that a significant credit for my interest in reading this tweet about history goes to Chetan Bhagat's recent tweet about historians.

Chakrabarti's starting point dates back to "many years since Independence" when he observed that academically bright students hardly opted for History/Indology. This eventually resulted in "only mediocre and academically gutter" elements occupying the teaching jobs. According to Chakrabarti, mostly those who failed the IAS exam a number of times used to try for these teaching jobs. Those who were bright and ambitious never opted for research or teaching.

Chakrabarti terms 'mediocre' academicians (History/Indology) as Marxists and finds them far better than the 'gutter' category, which he calls non-Marxists. According to Chakrabarti : 'Mediocre' i.e. Marxists researchers, can read books and express themselves better in English language. They muck up some Western theories and consider themselves a better class of scholars than the other group (non-Marxists). 

Having described the 'mediocre' researchers he clarifies : "It is these people whom we call 'Marxists in our history set-up. Most of them have not seen a book written by Karl Marx."

Chakrabarti hits the 'non-Marxists' really very hard : "The less we think of the 'Non-Marxists' the better. They are blissfully ignorant of all academic norms and knowledge. Essentially country bumpkins who cannot read possibly a whole book in any language, they fill up space in the history departments of most of our universities and research organizations."

"History/Archaeology/Indology - they are all professional disciplines in their own rights. Expertise cannot be acquired except with some love and commitment. Most of the characters who adorn the top level of the Indian academia in History/Archaeology/Indology are virtually semi-literates in their subjects and unmindful of anything else except their own interest,"  Chakrabarti's says, as quoted in the tweet. His concludes with the following comment.
"As things change politically in the country, the dichotomy between Marxists and non-Marxists in historical research will hopefully go away; but the scenario dominated by the mediocres and the elements of the gutter will not go away unless the study of India's ancient past acquires some respectability in Indian education and society."

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