Monday, January 1, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


History ‘major agenda’ with Parivar
By Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, Dec 31 — Shireen Moosvi, President, Indian History Congress, is in a hot seat. The IHC and “the subject of history as we know it” faces perhaps its biggest challenge in the saffron flag fluttering at the Centre. Associated with the Aligarh School of History and with a Masters degree in statistics, Shireen has worked on, among other things, the economy of the Mughal Empire. In the city to lecture at Panjab University, here is what Moosvi talks about.

Q: Why do you think books on history do not sell especially the ones written by historians?

A: The book on history is bought by those related to the subject and that means a limited audience. For example, if you write something on the economy of the Mughal empire the common man is not interested, but if you come out with a work bitching about Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib, Bipin Chandra, then you sell. And these are historians whose works sell a lot. But I also feel that historians should change their craft to increase their audience. There is no dearth of readership and it is always possible to make things more interesting in history as it is a subject which is closer to life than many others. All that is needed is time and energy.

Q: Does history have value beyond being a subject?

A: Historians have always had a major role to play. They are not just pure social scientists but keep the past and present-day understanding intact. Historical theories have a deterministic effect on society.

Q: Is the “safforonisation of Indian history” a real threat?

A: History is the major agenda with the present rulers and they want to make use of it. They have resources and the power of patronage of the Sangh Parivar. The Congress and United Front governments never interfered. It was not a major agenda for them. The Sangh Parivar is now trying to write a different history but as far as the community of historians is concerned, it could not win over many. And, in fact, this propaganda does not last for long, neither does it have a long-term impact.

Q: What has been the IHC role in all this?

A: The Indian History Congress has over the years played a very positive role. We were the ones to criticise the emergency. Then when Shahabuddin was attacking us, we stated that the Babri Masjid is not a mosque but a monument and should be preserved as heritage of our country and if that position had been accepted, then history would be different today. Then in the case of the Qubbat-ul-islam mosque again there is a big misconception. Qubbat means dome while Quwwat means power. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan misread Qubbat as Quwwat and this interpretation changes the whole meaning.

Q: But leftist historians did get a lot of patronage form the Congress.

A: No, they never provided any patronage. The ICHR was created all right but then it was an autonomous body. In fact, wherever the Leftists were in power they took extra care to be fair all the time but the minute the others came to positions of power, they are making no bones about their bias towards these half-crazy, half-mad non-historians.


Need to identify placement avenues: VC
By Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 31 — Controversies on several academic rules continue to do the rounds of the academic circles in Panjab University. Unanimity is missing on several issues involving policy matters and a rather mixed picture emerges on different issues shifting between colleges, governments and the university.

Mr Satya Pal Dang, an eminent political voice, in his first Senate meeting pointed out that admissions on the basis of NRI quota were allowing certain below-merit students to make it to the class only because of his ‘money and no merit’.

“Poor students will suffer the most. Imagine you do not get admission, but see a student with a score far below the merit attend classes”, he said.

Dr K.C. Shenmar said the government approved reservation policy for recruitment of teachers had not been followed in the appointment of teachers on the campus. The university has set up a committee to finalise a future action in this direction.

Mr Swaraj Kaushal said the government stand was often too rigid on certain issues. This left universities and colleges high and dry on these issues, particularly in matters of money.

This, however, did not absolve the responsibility of a no-action approach. “New ways and means should be deliberated”, he added.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof K.N. Pathak, pointed out that there was a need for identifying avenues of placements for students after the courses. Another related point was proper linking up of the courses for higher studies.

Despite government information regarding payment to college teachers there was a wide gap in the actual implementation. Prof Charanjit Chawla pointed out exploitation of part-time teachers.

“They were not only paid less, but often asked to work beyond their duty hours”, he added. The Vice-Chancellor promised a high-powered committee to study the issue.


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