Through a public statement the concerned Bharateeya historians, archaeologists and scholars of Indian civilisation rejected the hypocrisy of ‘Left’ school and called for an unbiased and rigorous new historiography of Bharat.
A concerned group of Indian historians, archaeologists and scholars of Indian civilisation released a public statement against what they called a “well-orchestrated campaign to create a bogeyman and cry wolf”. As per the statement 53 historians of Bharat who voiced alarm on October, 26 and followed by an “Open letter from overseas historians and social scientists”, 176 of them, are neither intellectual nor academic in substance, but ideological and, much more so, political.
The statement says, “As historians, archaeologists and academics specialising in diverse aspects of Indian civilisation, we wish to respond to these hypocritical attempts to claim the moral high ground…”
The statement further point out that this bogey of intolerance is “anchored mainly in Marxist historiography and leftist ideology” and has become synonymous with a number of abusive and unscholarly practises.
Following practices are identified by the statement as unscholarly:
1. A reductionist approach viewing the evolution of Indian society almost entirely through the prism of the caste system, emphasising its mechanisms of “exclusion” while neglecting those of integration without which Indian society would have disintegrated long ago.
2. A near-complete eraser of Bharat’s knowledge systems in every—field philosophical, linguistic, literary, scientific, medical, technological or artistic—and a general under-emphasis of Bharat’s important contributions to other cultures and civilisations. In this, the Leftist School has been a faithful inheritor of colonial historiography, except that it no longer has the excuse of ignorance. Yet it claims to provide an accurate and “scientific” portrayal of Bharat!
3. A denial of the continuity and originality of Bharat’s Hindu-Buddhist-Jain-Sikh culture, ignoring the work of generations of Indian and Western Indologists. Hindu identity, especially, has been a pet aversion of this School, which has variously portrayed it as being disconnected from Vedic antecedents, irrational, superstitious, regressive, barbaric — ultimately “imagined” and, by implication, illegitimate.
4. A refusal to acknowledge the well-documented darker chapters of Bharateeya history, in particular the brutality of many Muslim rulers and their numerous Buddhist, Jain, Hindu and occasionally Christian and Muslim victims (ironically, some of these tyrants are glorified today); the brutal intolerance of the Church in Goa, Kerala and Puducherry; and the state-engineered economic and cultural impoverishment of India under the British rule.
5. A neglect of Vanvasi histories: For all its claims to give a voice to “marginalised” or “oppressed” sections of Bharateeya society, the Leftist School has hardly allowed a space to Bharat’s Vanvasi communities and the rich contributions of their Vanavasi belief systems and heritage. When it has condescended to take notice, it has generally been to project Hindu culture and faith traditions as inimical to Vanvasi cultures and beliefs, whereas in reality the latter have much more in common with the former than with the religions imposed on them through militant conversions.
6. A biased and defective use of sources: Texts as well as archaeological or epigraphic evidence have been misread or selectively used to fit preconceived theories. Advances of Indological researches in the last few decades have been ignored, as have been Bharateeya or Western historians, archaeologists, anthropologists who have differed from the Leftist School. Archaeologists who developed alternative perspectives after considerable research have been sidelined or negatively branded.
7. A disquieting absence of professional ethics: The Leftist School has not academically critiqued dissenting Indian historians, preferring to dismiss them as “Nationalist” or “communal”. Many academics have suffered discrimination, virtual ostracism and loss of professional opportunities because they would not toe the line, enforced through political support since the days of Nurul Hasan. The Indian History Congress and the ICHR, among other institutions, became arenas of power play and political as well as financial manipulation. In effect, the Leftist School succeeded in projecting itself as the one and only, crushing debate and dissent and polarising the academic community. The statement has condemned the far more pernicious imposition by the Leftist School of a “legislated history”.
The statement in conclusion has called for an unbiased and rigorous new historiography of Bharat.