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Parker Campbell
Parker Campbell

Arun Shourie's Eminent Historians: A Scathing Attack on the Distortion of Indian History by Marxist and Secularist Historians


Eminent Historians by Arun Shourie: A Critical Review




In this article, I will review the book Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud by Arun Shourie, which was first published in 1998 and revised in 2004. The book is a scathing critique of some of the prominent historians of India, who are accused by Shourie of distorting facts, manipulating evidence, and propagating a biased and ideological agenda in their writings and teachings. I will summarize the main argument and thesis of the book, as well as its structure and organization. I will also analyze some of the specific cases and examples that Shourie uses to expose the alleged frauds and falsehoods of these historians. Finally, I will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the book, and offer a recommendation for the readers and potential audience of the book.




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The author and his background




Arun Shourie is a well-known journalist, author, politician, and activist in India. He has written over 25 books on various topics, such as politics, economics, religion, philosophy, and history. He has also served as a minister in the government of India, as well as an editor and columnist for several newspapers and magazines. He is known for his outspoken views and criticisms of various issues and personalities, such as corruption, terrorism, secularism, communism, Islam, Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar, etc. He is also a recipient of several awards and honors, such as the Padma Bhushan, the Magsaysay Award, the International Editor of the Year Award, etc.


The main argument and thesis of the book




The main argument and thesis of Eminent Historians is that some of the most influential historians of India have been engaged in a systematic and deliberate distortion of Indian history for political and ideological purposes. Shourie claims that these historians have used their positions and power to control academic institutions, textbooks, journals, committees, etc., to propagate their own version of history that suits their agenda. He also accuses them of suppressing or ignoring contrary evidence, fabricating or misinterpreting data, plagiarizing or copying from other sources, etc., to support their claims. He further alleges that these historians have been motivated by personal interests, such as money, fame, awards, etc., rather than by scholarly integrity or objectivity.


Shourie identifies four main groups or categories of these historians: (1) Marxist historians who follow a rigid and dogmatic framework that denies or downplays any positive aspects of Indian culture or civilization; (2) secularist historians who oppose any recognition or respect for Hinduism or its symbols or traditions; (3) leftist historians who support and justify the actions and policies of the Congress party and its leaders, especially Nehru and Indira Gandhi; and (4) communalist historians who promote and glorify the Muslim rulers and invaders of India, and vilify or demonize the Hindu kings and warriors who resisted them.


Shourie names some of the prominent historians who belong to these groups, such as R.S. Sharma, Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Bipan Chandra, Satish Chandra, D.N. Jha, K.N. Panikkar, etc. He also refers to some of the organizations and institutions that these historians have dominated or influenced, such as the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the Indian History Congress (IHC), the Aligarh Historians Society (AHS), etc.


The structure and organization of the book




The book is divided into three main parts: The Historians, Their Line, and Their Fraud. Each part consists of several chapters that deal with different aspects or themes related to the main topic. The book also has an introduction, a preface, an appendix, a bibliography, and an index.


The first part, The Historians, consists of six chapters that expose the methods and techniques that these historians use to distort history. Shourie shows how they concoct or select evidence, how they interpret or misinterpret sources, how they plagiarize or copy from other writers, how they praise or criticize each other, how they react or respond to criticism or challenges, and how they benefit or profit from their activities.


The second part, Their Line, consists of four chapters that reveal the agenda and ideology that these historians follow and propagate. Shourie analyzes how they adopt or impose a Marxist or secularist framework on Indian history, how they use or abuse various devices to further their line, such as circulars, resolutions, petitions, statements, etc., how they justify or rationalize their line by appealing to positive aspects or values, such as progress, democracy, pluralism, etc., and how they conceal or deny their real agenda behind their line.


The third part, Their Fraud, consists of four chapters that illustrate the consequences and implications of their distortion of history. Shourie examines some of the specific cases and controversies that these historians have been involved in or commented on, such as the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, the Ayodhya excavations, the Tipu Sultan's image, and the Aurangzeb's image. He demonstrates how they have falsified or manipulated facts, evidence, arguments, opinions, etc., to suit their own interests or prejudices.


A characteristic concoction




In this chapter, Shourie presents an example of how these historians concoct a false or misleading picture of Indian history by selectively using or ignoring evidence. He takes the case of R.S. Sharma's book India's Ancient Past, which was published by Oxford University Press in 2005. He points out that Sharma omits or downplays any mention of Hinduism or its symbols or traditions in his book. He also shows that Sharma relies on dubious or outdated sources to support his claims. He also exposes some of the contradictions and inconsistencies in Sharma's arguments.


For instance, Shourie notes that Sharma does not mention the word 'Hindu' even once in his book. He also does not mention any of the Hindu scriptures or texts, such as the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas, etc., except for a passing reference to the Rig Veda. He also does not mention any of the Hindu gods or goddesses, such as Shiva, Vishnu, Eminent entrepreneurs




In this chapter, Shourie exposes the financial and material benefits that these historians have gained from their activities. He reveals how they have received grants, awards, fellowships, scholarships, etc., from various sources, such as the government, foreign agencies, academic institutions, etc. He also shows how they have used their influence and power to secure or promote their own positions, careers, publications, etc. He also questions the credibility and quality of their work and output.


For example, Shourie cites the case of Romila Thapar, who is one of the most celebrated and decorated historians of India. He notes that she has received several honors and recognitions, such as the Padma Shri, the Kluge Prize, the Fukuoka Prize, the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship, etc. He also notes that she has been associated with prestigious institutions and organizations, such as the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, etc. He also notes that she has written or edited several books and articles on Indian history and culture.


However, Shourie also points out that Thapar has been involved in several controversies and scandals related to her work and conduct. He mentions that she has been accused of plagiarism, fabrication, misrepresentation, bias, etc., by several scholars and critics. He also mentions that she has been challenged or refuted by several alternative or revisionist historians who have presented different or contrary views or interpretations of Indian history. He also mentions that she has been criticized or condemned by several political and religious groups who have opposed or objected to her views or statements on various issues or events.


How to do it




In this chapter, Shourie explains the methods and techniques that these historians use to distort history. He describes how they select or ignore evidence, how they interpret or misinterpret sources, how they quote or cite authorities, how they use or abuse statistics, how they construct or deconstruct narratives, how they compare or contrast periods or regions, how they generalize or particularize phenomena or trends, etc. He also provides some examples and illustrations of these methods and techniques in action.


For instance, Shourie analyzes how these historians deal with the issue of caste in Indian history. He observes that they tend to portray caste as a rigid and oppressive system that was imposed by the Brahmins on the rest of the society. He also observes that they tend to emphasize the negative aspects of caste discrimination and oppression. He also observes that they tend to ignore or downplay the positive aspects of caste diversity and mobility. He also observes that they tend to overlook or dismiss the evidence of caste reform and resistance.


Shourie shows how these historians use various methods and techniques to support their portrayal of caste. He shows how they select or ignore evidence from various sources, such as literary texts, A fitting tribute




In this chapter, Shourie exposes the mutual admiration and appreciation that these historians show for each other. He reveals how they praise or compliment each other's work and achievements, how they endorse or recommend each other's books and articles, how they defend or support each other's views and arguments, how they nominate or award each other's honors and recognitions, etc. He also shows how they form a closed and exclusive circle or clique that excludes or marginalizes any dissenting or opposing voices or perspectives.


For example, Shourie cites the case of Irfan Habib, who is another prominent and influential historian of India. He notes that he has received several accolades and distinctions, such as the Padma Bhushan, the Watumull Prize, the Aligarh Muslim University Honoris Causa, etc. He also notes that he has been associated with various institutions and organizations, such as the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), the Indian History Congress (IHC), etc. He also notes that he has written or edited several books and articles on Indian history and culture.


However, Shourie also points out that Habib has been involved in several controversies and scandals related to his work and conduct. He mentions that he has been accused of plagiarism, fabrication, misrepresentation, bias, etc., by several scholars and critics. He also mentions that he has been challenged or refuted by several alternative or revisionist historians who have presented different or contrary views or interpretations of Indian history. He also mentions that he has been criticized or condemned by several political and religious groups who have opposed or objected to his views or statements on various issues or events.


Shourie shows how Habib has been praised or complimented by his fellow historians who belong to the same group or category as him. He shows how they endorse or recommend his books and articles in their reviews or introductions. He shows how they defend or support his views and arguments in their responses or rebuttals. He shows how they nominate or award him honors and recognitions in their committees or councils. He shows how they form a closed and exclusive circle or clique that excludes or marginalizes any dissenting or opposing voices or perspectives.


When cornered, cry 'Petty', 'Personal', 'Uncivilized'




In this chapter, Shourie exposes the reactions and responses that these historians show when they are confronted or challenged by their critics or opponents. He reveals how they resort to various tactics and strategies to evade or avoid answering or addressing the issues or questions raised by their critics or opponents. He also shows how they use various labels and terms to dismiss or denigrate their critics or opponents. He also shows how they appeal to various authorities and standards to justify or rationalize their actions and positions.


For instance, Shourie analyzes how these historians deal with the issue of plagiarism in their work. He observes that they tend to deny or ignore the accusations of plagiarism made by their critics '...after selling himself in the flesh market'




In this chapter, Shourie exposes the personal and professional rivalries and conflicts that these historians have among themselves. He reveals how they attack or criticize each other's work and achievements, how they accuse or blame each other of plagiarism, fabrication, misrepresentation, bias, etc., how they compete or vie with each other for grants, awards, fellowships, scholarships, etc., how they undermine or sabotage each other's positions, careers, publications, etc. He also shows how they reveal their own hypocrisy and dishonesty in their dealings with each other.


For example, Shourie cites the case of D.N. Jha, who is another prominent and influential historian of India. He notes that he has received several accolades and distinctions, such as the Padma Shri, the H.K. Barpujari Award, the D.Litt Honoris Causa, etc. He also notes that he has been associated with various institutions and organizations, such as the Delhi University (DU), the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), the Indian History Congress (IHC), etc. He also notes that he has written or edited several books and articles on Indian history and culture.


However, Shourie also points out that Jha has been involved in several controversies and scandals related to his work and conduct. He mentions that he has been accused of plagiarism, fabrication, misrepresentation, bias, etc., by several scholars and critics. He also mentions that he has been challenged or refuted by several alternative or revisionist historians who have presented different or contrary views or interpretations of Indian history. He also mentions that he has been criticized or condemned by several political and religious groups who have opposed or objected to his views or statements on various issues or events.


Shourie shows how Jha has been attacked or criticized by his fellow historians who belong to the same group or category as him. He shows how they accuse or blame him of plagiarism in his books and articles. He shows how they compete or vie with him for grants and awards in their committees or councils. He shows how they undermine or sabotage his positions and careers in their institutions or organizations. He shows how they reveal their own hypocrisy and dishonesty in their dealings with him.


For instance, Shourie quotes a letter written by Irfan Habib to Romila Thapar in 1998, in which he expresses his displeasure and resentment towards Jha for plagiarizing his work and receiving an award for it. He writes: "I am sorry to say that I find it difficult to congratulate Jha on his award...He has lifted from my The Agrarian System without acknowledgement about 20 pages of text (with some changes here and there) besides several tables...I feel particularly sore because he was a pupil of mine...I think it is a scandal that such a person should get an award after selling himself in the flesh market."


A circular




In this chapter, Shourie presents an example of how these historians adopt or impose a Marxist or secularist framework on Indian history. He takes the case of a circular issued by the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) in 1976, which was signed by R.S. Sharma as the chairman and Irfan Habib as the member secretary. He points out that the circular lays down the guidelines and criteria for selecting and funding research projects on Indian history. He also shows that the circular reflects the bias and ideology of these historians.


For instance, Shourie notes that the circular states that the research projects should be "scientific" and "objective", but also "relevant" and "progressive". He notes that these terms are vague and ambiguous, Devices to further the circular




In this chapter, Shourie exposes the various devices and strategies that these historians use or abuse to further their agenda and ideology in Indian history. He reveals how they manipulate or influence the selection and funding of research projects, the publication and distribution of books and journals, the appointment and promotion of faculty and staff, the curriculum and syllabus of courses and exams, the organization and participation of seminars and conferences, etc. He also shows how they misuse or violate the rules and regulations of academic institutions and organizations.


For example, Shourie cites the case of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), which is responsible for developing and publishing textbooks for school education in India. He notes that these historians have dominated or controlled the NCERT for several years, and have used their power to produce and prescribe textbooks that reflect their views and opinions on Indian history. He also notes that these textbooks have been widely criticized and condemned by several scholars and groups for containing errors, distortions, omissions, biases, etc.


Shourie shows how these historians use or abuse various devices and strategies to further their agenda and ideology in the NCERT. He shows how they appoint or nominate themselves or their associates as members or chairpersons of various committees or panels that are involved in the preparation and review of textbooks. He shows how they reject or ignore the suggestions or objections of other experts or reviewers who have different or contrary views or perspectives on Indian history. He shows how they resist or oppose any attempts or efforts to revise or replace their textbooks with alternative or improved ones.


'Let us look forward to the positive aspects'




In this chapter, Shourie exposes the hypocrisy and dishonesty of these historians who justify or rationalize their agenda and ideology in Indian history by appealing to positive aspects or values. He reveals how they use or misuse various terms or phrases, such as "scientific", "objective", "progressive", "democratic", "pluralistic", etc., to present themselves as enlightened and modern scholars who are concerned with the welfare and development of India. He also shows how they conceal or deny their negative aspects or motives, such as bias, prejudice, hatred, intolerance, etc., that underlie their views and actions.


For example, Shourie cites the case of a statement issued by some of these historians in 1990, in which they express their support for the Mandal Commission report that recommended reservations for backward classes in government jobs and education. He notes that these historians claim that they are in favor of social justice and equality for all sections of society. He also notes that these historians claim that they are opposed to communalism and violence that threaten the unity and integrity of India.


However, Shourie also points out that these historians are being hypocritical and dishonest in their statement. He shows how they use or misuse various terms or phrases to justify or rationalize their support for the Mandal Commission report. He shows how they ignore or downplay the flaws and drawbacks of the report, such as its faulty data, its arbitrary criteri


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