Itihaas
1999
Akhilesh Mithal

Akhilesh Mithal, the Outdated Historian

 

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(Review that appeared in Calcutta Online - Newspaper Tuesday November 9 1999

Akhilesh Mithal's weekly column in Asian Age is not a popular column for the newspaper-readers who are swayed by obsession with consumerism. 

For them, Arun Shourie,  Swapan Dasgupta and MV Kamath are historians of merit. Shourie is at home in the history of Indian communist movement and his main conclusion is that the communists were against the Indian freedom movement citing their role in the Quit India Struggle. He did not bother to note that several hundred Indian freedom-fighters who had been deported to the Cellular Jail in Port Blair joined the Indian communist movement. Is this not proof of tendentious research? 

Those who are genuine research scholars in history specialize in one or two topics. But Shourie, masqueraded as an outstanding historian by the Sangh Parivar, write books on the history of Indian communist movement, Ambedkar and Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi Mandir controversy and national newspapers project him too as a historian. Swapan Dasgupta is a Nuffield scholar in history but dances to the tune set by the Sangh Parivar leaders and he uses India Today in propagating his colored and biased ideas. There is nothing official about his frequent appearance in Star TV and Doordarshan, thanks to the Saffron power at the helm.

Mithal in his last Sunday column quoted from the memoirs of Rajeswar Dayal, one of the finest
and successful Indian civil servants and diplomats.

"When the communal tension was still at fever
pitch, the deputy inspector general of police, western range, a very seasoned and capable officer,
BBL Jaitley, arrived at my house in great secrecy", wrote Dayal, then Home secretary of U.P. Jaitley came with two large steel trunks. 

"When the trunks were opened, they revealed incontrovertible evidence of a dastardly conspiracy to create a communal holocaust through the western districts of the province (U.P.).The trunks were crammed with blueprints of great accuracy and professionalism of every village and town in that vast area, prominently marking out the Muslim localities and habitations.", Dayal added. 

The whole matter was brought to the knowledge of then Premier of UP, Govind Vallabh Pant. Jaitley unveiled the whole conspiracy, unearthed following "timely raids conducted on the premises of RSS". The plot was authored by the RSS supremo, Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar. 

"Both Jaitley and I", Dayal went on to state, "pressed for the immediate arrest of the prime accused, Shri Golwalkar. Pant could not but accent the evidence of his eyes and ears and expressed deep concern. But, instead of agreeing to the arrest of the ring leader as we had hoped, and Kidwai would have done, he asked for the matter to be placed before the next cabinet meeting.

The matter was shelved. Pant was among the first recipients of Bharat Ratna award, the highest national honour, although he was responsible for the Babri Masjid controversy. His soft stance towards the Hindu chauvinists helped the Hindu obscurantists to place an idol of Lord Rama in the Babri Masjid. Queerly enough, Pant's son, once a very close confidante of Indira Gandhi and a former Union minister joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1998 and became the deputy chairman, Planning Commission. 

Mithal's truthful presentation of history is not liked by our pampered editors. Even Asian Age carries Mithal's column with little prominence unlike the prominent display of Shourie's weekly column with his
photograph. History-destroyers are welcomed by the Indian media. Should we say that when modernity advances, scholasticism retreats? Serious scholars like Mithal does not fit in to the consumerist culture that accommodates pseudo-historians well.

 

Akhilesh Mithal, 1991-1999. All rights reserved.
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