NEW DELHI: The debate in the country on rewriting history is unnecessary as certain “exaggerations” need to be removed from time to time, Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) Chairman Arvind Jamkhedkar has said. The historian also said the mandate of the ICHR, a body under the HRD Ministry, was not to dictate history or decide curriculum but to encourage research to facilitate the rewriting of history. “Rewriting is part of the writing of history,” he said in an interview to PTI.
History was divided into various eras, he said, elaborating how it had been dealt with differently over time. “When colonial history was written there was a need to write it from a different point of view as Professor BB Kaushambi realised that this type of history did not have any meaning unless we studied economic history,” Jamkhedkar said.
“A complete new school came into being which included Professor RS Sharma, Irfan Habib and so many others who actually rewrote the earlier history,” he added.
The ICHR chief supported his argument for the need to rewrite history, stating that it was a “healthy” trend. “Over a period of time, a certain awareness comes among the historians and they find certain lacunae which would have been left by previous schools,” he said.
“History has always been rewritten and it is a healthy thing because there have been exaggerations. For instance, it was thought that probably the earlier economic historians might have exaggerated a few things and history was then rewritten,” he said.
Jamkhedkar, however, called for a correction of methodologies in conducting research while rewriting history. “There is nothing wrong in rewriting history but whether our methodologies are correct or not, experts should talk about that,” he said.
Asked about the debate in the country over revisions of history curricula, the chairman said, “It is not ICHR’s mandate to dictate history or decide what should be taught. Its job is to encourage scholars to conduct fresh and meaningful research to rewrite history.”
The ICHR is a flagship research-based institution that functions under the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Jamkhedkar, 78, took over as its chief last month replacing YS Sudershan Rao, who had demitted office in June last year. The Maharashtra-based historian, Indologist and archaeologist is also the Chancellor of Deccan College, Pune. After he took charge, the council organised a conference on “Indian History: Emerging perspectives”. seeking to clear “distortions” in Indian history.