Thursday, November 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



History must not be made a political gambit

THE discipline of history has an unmistakable power to educate the literate and the illiterate. Only in order to erode the deliberate confusion caused by the colonial historians and later the parochial historians, a brand of which will invariably survive, the NCERT had done an extensive academic exercise to weed out the injurious errors that may affect the susceptible minds. But those who are dogmatic, opportunists and aren’t politicians but wish to be and are those who wish only to sedate and not educate have gone on to criticise the genuine endeavour of the NCERT. I strongly deprecate such persons in my personal capacity as a military historian who has been a soldier scholar.

We the Indian people have undergone myriad transformations for many centuries. History of a country cannot be confined to its internal or external political or on the map geographical boundaries. An adamantine view of those who have criticised the NCERT is an attempt to thwart the growth of susceptible minds. Historians need to act wisely and ought not to stoop for transient personal gains.

History writing has had didactic and scientific foundations. Its worth as a discipline has not only been bookish but intellectual as well, continuously liberalising the mind from the fortified untruths. Those amongst us who teach, preserve, research and write histories have a responsibility that is different from those who are now not in but seek either the benedictions of or the saddles of power for themselves.


These days we confront a challenge different from that of the colonial times. The challenge comes not from an inappropriately worded coloured view of history but from its very opposite — often for personal gain policy. Such an approach only incites antagonism and tends to confuse the young minds. And it must be denounced strongly.

Rumours of ideological warfare and academic conspiracies may or may not be without basis but these lead to a general consternation in susceptible minds.

A historian’s consternation must only be about the mauled and muddled-up historical findings and not if the whole set of assumptions about past heritage may totter down as the result of the earthquake of historical truths laid bare. There can never be a newly cooked up historical cuisine.

There aren’t gullible masses that may lap up or clap up history forever. The stereotyped historical scholarship has ruled out research on ordinary people and certain leaders, not because they were not worth it but because they did not matter to those who took up the pen. History is history it must not be made a political gambit.

Dr SUSHIL KUMAR, Director, Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi (The views are personal rather than official)

Migrants & Punjabi culture

The report “Migrants influencing Punjabi culture” describing the views of various professors and other so-called leading lights of society was a disappointment and a reflection on the prevailing mores where even the university professors do not feel ashamed to air their extremely bigoted opinions. These talking heads want to “preserve” Punjabi culture but want to destroy its very foundation of liberal thought which does not seek to discriminate between people based on religion, caste or other extraneous factors and seeks to look at everyone as a complete individual possessing certain inalienable rights, including the right to a better future.

Ironically, while the same people are the first in line to commend the Punjabi NRIs for their success in foreign lands and being elected to senates and other high posts, their consternation at having an MLA of Bihari origin is all too palpable. I hope the next time someone seeks to speak for the Punjabis, men of better calibre represent me or I will request you to ignore these self-promoting “intellectual” meetings.


Punjab’s finances

Day in and day out one reads news headlines regarding the poor financial position of Punjab. I find it very amusing vis-a-vis my own experience. I was working as SDE in the PWD B&R. I applied for voluntary retirement during Nov, 2001. It took the authorities more than five months to accept my offer. There was nothing against me on the record. This period of five months could have taken more than a year had I not used my “resources”.

My intention to leave the country was weighing heavily on the sensitive minds of the babus. I had still more than 10 years service as my option.

During these five months I was paid full pay, but given no work.

Needless to add that my first pension is yet to be credited to my account.

Similar is the case of my wife who sought voluntary retirement from the Education Department.

I do not find any dearth of money in the coffers of Punjab.

K.S. DHAMI, Surrey BC, Canada


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