The country’s academic community is shocked at the manner in which the Narendra Modi government is “trampling upon” academic institutions and conventions, leading historian and Professor Emeritus at Aligarh Muslim University Irfan Habib said.
The recent resignation of historian Sabyasachi Bhattacharya as chief editor of Indian Historical Review, a journal of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), reflects an ominous trend in the course of the future of education in India, Habib told PTI.
“Every government has right to bring in academicians which represent a line of thought that is conducive to the ruling dispensation. The cause for concern is that the present NDA government, unlike the earlier NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is inducting people who have nothing to do with academics,” Habib alleged.
He said that during the Vajpayee era, a number of right- wing historians were inducted into the ICHR.
“We had serious academic differences with such persons, but this was acceptable because they at least belonged to the academic fraternity,” he said.
Habib said what was causing concern in academic circles over the recent trend of nominating non-academicians to prestigious institutions in the country were reports emanating from New Delhi clearly suggesting that these nominations are not at the behest of the HRD Ministry but are in fact coming “from above”.
Habib warned that if conventions, which have evolved over the decades, are flouted with disdain, the future of the country’s higher education system would be seriously jeopardised.
The recent decision of the Government of Haryana to launch a project to recreate the legendary Saraswati river defies ancient traditions embodied in the Rig Veda and also defies History and Geography, he said.
“According to Rig Veda, the river Saraswati flowed between the Yamuna and Shatudhari (Satluj) but the Haryana government appears determined to somehow recreate this river by establishing its borders within the state of Haryana,” he said.
For this purpose, the BJP-led Haryana government is carrying out extensive excavation to locate the exact spot where they claim that the legendary river Saraswati was formed, he added.
Habib alleged that if this venture did not succeed, the Haryana government plans to dig up 2-3 tube wells within the state to “serve their political purpose” by deliberately distorting history, science and Vedic traditions.