Romila Thapar

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Romila Thapar (रोमिला थापर) (born 30 November 1931) is an Indian Marxist historian [1].[2]

Work[edit]

In 2006, she was an active supporter of Michael Witzel of Harvard in the Californian Hindu textbook controversy.

One high profile critic of Thapar is journalist, politician, and writer Arun Shourie, whose book Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud accuses her and other historians of white-washing the records of Muslim rulers such as Mahmud of Ghazni and Aurangzeb and of tampering with history.

She crtisized Hindus for objecting to Hussains painting, but said nothing about the intolerance of Muslims towards Cartoon. These kind of hypocrasy lends credence to her being called biased.

In India, Marxist historiography was very influential. Its main representatives are Irfan Habib, and K. N. Panikkar. B. N. Datta and D. D. Kosambi are considered the founding fathers of Marxist historiography. Today, the senior-most scholars of Marxist historiography are R. S. Sharma, Irfan Habib, Romila Thapar, D. N. Jha and K. N. Panikkar, most of whom are now over 75 years old.[3]

Romila Thapar and R.S. Sharma are quoted at some length as representatives of Indian Marxist thought in A Dictionary of Marxist Thought.[4] Irfan Habib has titled a recent collection of his papers Essays in Indian History. Towards a Marxist Perspective.(Elst 2001, Decolonizing the Hindu Mind, p. 40)

  • Thapar and Sharma are quoted as representatives of Indian Marxism in Tom Bottomore’s History of Marxist Thought, Oxford 1988, entry “Hinduism”; Habib has subtitled his recent book Essays in Indian History (Tulika, Delhi 1995) as Towards a Marxist Perception. elst 2002,ch1
  • Since some ignorant dupes of these Marxists denounce as “McCarthyist” anyone who points out their ideological inspiration, it deserves to be emphasized that acclaimed secularist historians like Romila Thapar, R.S. Sharma and Irfan Habib are certified as Marxists in standard Marxist sources like Tom Bottomore’s Dictionary of Marxist Thought. The BMAC team’s argumentation of 1991 and several other anti-temple pamphlets were published by the People’s Publishing House, a Communist Party outfit. One of the textbook innovations most furiously denounced as “saffronization” was the truism that Lenin’s armed seizing of power in October/November 1917 was a “coup d’état”. And while they were unchaining all their devils against glasnost, in early 2003, the Marxists ruling West Bengal deleted from a textbook a passage in which Mahatma Gandhi’s biographer Louis Fischer called Stalin “at least as ruthless as Hitler”. Elst 2003,ch2
  • Since some ignorant dupes of these Marxists denounce as “McCarthyist” anyone who points out their ideological inspiration, it deserves to be emphasized that “eminent historians” like Romila Thapar, R.S. Sharma and Irfan Habib are certified as Marxists in standard Marxist sources like Tom Bottomore's Dictionary of Marxist Thought . During the official historians' Ayodhya temple/mosque dispute in 1991, the pro-mosque team's argumentation and several other anti-temple pamphlets were published by the People's Publishing House, a Communist Party outfit. One of the recent textbook innovations most furiously denounced as “saffronization” was the truism that Lenin's armed seizing of power in October/November 1917 was a “coup d'état”. And in early 2003, while they were unchaining all their devils against glasnost , the Marxists ruling West Bengal deleted from a textbook a passage in which Mahatma Gandhi's biographer Louis Fischer called Stalin “at least as ruthless as Hitler”. Such are the true concerns of the “secularists” warning the world against the attempts at glasnost in India's national history curriculum.
    • (Elst: Religious Cleansing of Hindus, 2004, Agni conference in The Hague)
  • Notable journalists such as Arun Shourie have covered this. Another sample is from noted journalist and writer in The Pioneer, Sandhya Jain, who writes The famous Marxist ideologue, Ms Romila Thapar, is an 'expert' on ancient India with poor knowledge of Indian classical languages, including Sanskrit. Nobel Prize winener V. S. Naipaul noted Romila Thapar's book on Indian history is a Marxist attitude to history, which in substance says: there is a higher truth behind the invasions, feudalism and all that. The correct truth is the way the invaders looked at their actions. They were conquering, they were subjugating.. Characterizations of Thapar as a Marxist abound.[1] - " E.Sreedharan in his book "A Textbook of Historiography, 500 B.C. to A.D. 2000" discusses Thapar's historical works under a chapter titled the Marxist phase of Indian History writing.He lists her name along with other renowned Marxist historians such as D. D. Kosambi, R.S.Sharma, Bipin Chandra and Irfan Habib.". Dalrymple quotes Naipaul as saying Romila Thapar's book on Indian history is a Marxist attitude to history.

1) George Thompson writing on Thomas McEvilley, says that the latter supports the view that Thapar's works were Marxist http://www.springerlink.com/content/jk216x2499w12730/ 2) Daud Ali's review of A History of India: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=333711 interprets many of Thapar's views/ works as Marxist. 3) Economic and Political Weekly Jan (2000) Gopal Guru and V.Geetha refers to Thapar as a " Marxist Historian" in a discussion of Dalit culture. 1). Thapar is quoted as one of the marxist historians in the entry "Hinduism" of a "A Dictionary of The Marxist Thought"(Tom Bottomore et al, 1983, Harvard Univeristy Press, p.204) 2.Ronald Inden in his "Imagining India[1990:pp. 154-156, 197] refers to Thapar as a marxist scholar. 3.Shankar Goyal discuss thapar's interpretations of ancient india in the sections on Marxist Historiography in his book "Recent Historiography of Ancient India, Kusumanjali Prakashan: Jodhpur (1997) 4.Ravi Shanker Kapoor refers to thapar as a "Leftist Historian" in his book " More Equal than Others - A study of the Indian Left, Vision Books: New Delhi (2000)

Romila Thapar supported the idea of Uniform Civil Code in India.[6][7][8]

Thapar was one of the several activists who filed for review of Supreme court verdict that refused the release of five activists who were arrested in connection with the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence and for links with Maoist terror groups by Maharashtra police. This petition was dismissed by the Supreme court and the custody of the accused was extended[9].

Critics on the other hand have challenged her projection of an expert on Vedic history owing to her lack of knowledge of Sanskrit. Also her standing and influence has been largely due to her family relationship to the Nehru Gandhi family[10].

Also her standing and influence has been largely due to her family relationship to the Nehru Gandhi family[11].

Thapar's appointment to the Library of Congress's Kluge Chair in 2003 was opposed in an online petition bearing more than 2,000 signatures, on the grounds that she was a "Marxist and anti-Hindu" and it was "waste of US money" to support a leftist.[12] Journalist Praful Bidwai criticised the petition as a "vicious attack" by communalists who are "not even minimally acquainted" with her work.[13] A number of academics sent a protest letter[14][15] to the Library of Congress denouncing the petition as an attack on intellectual and artistic freedom. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) supported her appointment by calling her "a liberal with a scientific outlook".[16] Martha Nussbaum has stated that Thapar is neither a communist nor a Marxist historian and the Library of Congress treated the petition with "the indifference that it deserved".[17]

Thapar is critical of what she calls a "communal interpretation" of Indian history, in which events in the last thousand years are interpreted solely in terms of a notional continual conflict between monolithic Hindu and Muslim communities. Thapar says this communal history is "extremely selective" in choosing facts, "deliberately partisan" in interpretation and does not follow current methods of analysis using multiple, prioritised causes.[18]

In 2002, the Indian coalition government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) changed the school textbooks for social sciences and history, on the ground that certain passages offended the sensibilities of some religious and caste groups.[19][20] Romila Thapar, who was the author of the textbook on Ancient India for class VI, objected to the changes made without her permission that, for example, deleted passages on eating of beef in ancient times, and the formulation of the caste system. She questioned whether the changes were an, "attempt to replace mainstream history with a Hindutva version of history", with the view to use the resultant controversy as "election propaganda."[21][22] Other historians and commentators, including Bipan Chandra, Sumit Sarkar, Irfan Habib, R.S. Sharma, Vir Sanghvi, Dileep Padgaonkar and Amartya Sen also protested the changes and published their objections in a compilation titled, Communalisation of Education.[21][23]

Writing about the 2006 Californian Hindu textbook controversy, Thapar opposed some of the changes that were proposed by Hindu groups to the coverage of Hinduism and Indian history in school textbooks. She contended that while Hindus have a legitimate right to a fair and culturally sensitive representation, some of the proposed changes included material that pushed political agenda.[24]

  • Witzel also publicly supports historians such as D. N. Jha, R. S. Sharma, Romila Thapar etc., who are quoted as Marxist historians in a Harvard University publication [25] . To raise the bogey of ‘ fundamentalist and right wing forces ’ 76 against anyone (such as the Greek scholar Nicholas Kazanas) who calls a Marxist as a Marxist is dishonest and negationist on the part of Witzel. If scholars like Kazanas become right wing Hindus just because their views on the question of AIT tally with those of some Hindutva organizations, then can we label Witzel as a Marxist or a Communist (or even a ‘Maoist-Stalinist’) because he publishes in Marxist publications and defends Marxist and Communist historians?
  • In a talk at UC Berkeley in November 2002, Thapar said sarcastically that there was no need to teach Sanskrit at JNU because ‘there were so many mutts and peeths around’. She has made similar remarks in taped interviews to scholars such as Yvette Rosser. On August 2, 2002, Rajiv Malhotra left a message on the Sulekha.com forum revealing that a Sanskrit department was finally started at JNU by Dr Kapil Kapoor after several years of opposition from entrenched Marxists on the campus, who regarded Sanskrit as the language of ‘evil Brahmins’, and warned Kapoor of academic marginalization if he persisted with his lobbying for a Sanskrit Dept. at the University. Dr Kapoor was promised rewards such as ‘foreign trips’ if he gave up his support for Sanskrit and restricted himself to teaching of English at JNU. (also quoted in Vigil, 'Thus Spake Professor Michael Witzel A Harvard University Case Study in Prejudice?' (2006))

Wikipedia bias[edit]

All criticism of Thapar is quickly removed from her wikipedia article by a group of wikipedia propagandists (see Wikipedia:OWN). This can easily be verified by adding something critical in the article.

The same group of editors are usually the very ones who add the grossest misrepresentations and smears to articles of Hindus.

See [3] [4]

Quotes[edit]

  • I.. feel that there are many people still left in this country who care for truth more than for position... I wish you had refrained from striking the pose of superiority which has been for long the hallmark of your school of historians. It does not go well with academic discipline.... I am sorry to say that your pamphlet has added nothing to my knowledge or perspective. The method of selecting facts and floating fictions is very well known to me. Christian missionaries have done far better with lesser fare.
    • QUESTIONNAIRE FOR THE MARXIST PROFESSORS in Goel, S.R. Hindu Temples what happened to them.
  • Next, we refer to the second point which the professors had made in their letter to The Times of India. They had said that “acts of intolerance have been committed by followers of all religions”. A subsequent sentence clarified what they meant; they had in mind the “Buddhist and Jain monuments” and “animist shrines destroyed by Hindus”. As we have said, we do not share their philosophy of separating the Buddhists, the Jains and the Animists from the Hindus. But we agree to use their terms for the time being and request them to produce
    1. A list of epigraphs which record the destruction of Buddhist and Jain monuments and Animist shrines by any Hindu, at any time;
    2. Citations from Hindu literary sources describing destruction of Buddhist and Jain monuments and Animist shrines by any Hindu, at any time;
    3. The Hindu theology which says or even suggests that non-Hindu places of worship should be destroyed or desecrated or plundered, or which hails such acts as pious or meritorious;
    4. A list of Hindu kings or commanders whom Hindus have hailed as heroes for desecrating or destroying or converting into Hindu places of worship any Buddhist or Jain monuments or Animist shrines;
    5. A list of Buddhist and Jain monuments and Animist shrines which have been desecrated or destroyed or converted into Hindu places of worship in the remote or the recent past;
    6. The names and places of Hindu monuments which stand on the sites occupied earlier by Buddhist or Jain monuments or Animist shrines, or which have materials from the latter embedded in their masonry;
    7. Names of Buddhist, Jain and Animist leaders or organizations who have claimed that such and such Hindu monuments are usurpations, and demanded their restoration to the original occupants;
    8. Names of Hindu leaders and organizations who have resisted any demand made by Buddhists or Jains or Animists for restoration of the latter’s places of worship, or called for legislation which will maintain the status quo, or cried “Hinduism in danger”, or staged street riots in support of their usurpations.
    • QUESTIONNAIRE FOR THE MARXIST PROFESSORS in Goel, S.R. Hindu Temples what happened to them.

"Taliban did not destroy the statue of Buddha at all. There was no historical evidence to prove that those statues were of Buddha". "There is in reality no such thing as Hinduism". "Islamic invaders' motive was economic rather than religious". "Hinduism was invented during the nineteenth century as a response to British colonial rule". “Aurangzeb’s supposed intolerance is little more than a hostile legend based on isolated acts such as the erection of a mosque on a temple site in Benares.” “…Young boys stayed with the priests who taught them how to recite the hymns of the Vedas. There is an amusing description of the pupils in one of the hymns. It is said that the pupils repeating the lesson after the teacher sound like frogs croaking before the coming of the rains.” "Jadunath Sarkar, R.C. Majumdar and K.S. Lal are examples of communalist and colonialist historywriting in textbooks". "The insistence on the tradition of religious tolerance and non-violence as characteristic of Hinduism... is not borne out by historical evidence".

  • It is in the Ayodhya debate that I have learned the power of historical scholarship. After the 1989 statement by the JNU historians, starring Romila Thapar, the historical position, though having been a matter of consensus between all the parties involved, was suddenly tabooed. There had already been partial archaeological excavations confirming that there had been a temple on the site where the Babri Masjid was built. Even if you decided to doubt the consensus, the balance of evidence was already clearly on the side of the temple. Yet, the whole mediatic and political class, and all the foreign India-watchers, suddenly had to pretend that the historical position was but a ridiculous Hindutva concoction. Well, through all this commotion, the historical facts remained what they were, and they were amply confirmed by the excavations of 2003. There are still a few Leftists maintaining that there had never been a temple at the site, but most people concerned just look the other way, embarrassed at having been led by the nose so badly. And with such a death toll as a result. .... But no, the “eminent historians” preferred lies and bloodshed (and apparently also the rise of the BJP). It is not often in history that the intervention of intellectuals has had so much effect at the mass level.... Why, in fact, has Romila Thapar been interviewed? Though she was already well-known, her hour of glory came with the unnecessary and artificial Ayodhya controversy. But in that controversy, she was on the wrong side. It doesn’t always come about, but in this case it did happen: justice. The wrong side, though absolutely dominant for more than a decade, was proven wrong. Her major claim to fame is now as the historian who was proven wrong, and this in a self-created controversy. I feel for her, she threw away her good reputation at the end of her career. Then again, she can still win it back by crossing the floor in time. She is in an excellent position, for instance, to create the much-needed dialogue between the different schools and disciplines in East and West; to stop the stonewalling, the guilt-by-association and the ridiculing that obstruct or poison the debate.
    • Elst, K. Interview about Romila Thapar, 2015
  • “When RomilaThapar tries to make gullible readers believe that Mahmud Ghaznavi only desecrated temples for their wealth, she must know… that Mahmud is revered by the Muslims as a devout Muslim, that he calligraphed Quran text “for the benefit of his soul”, and that he actually refused a huge ransom which Hindus were ready to pay if he agreed to give back an idol, instead of breaking it. Mahmud preferred breaking idols to selling them, even if that meant foregoing wealth. So her theory of Mahmud’s economical rather than religious motives is at best an unscientific imposition of Marxist dogma upon the facts of Indian history, otherwise a deliberate lie.” Koenraad Elst (Ayodhya and After)

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 'A Dictionary of The Marxist Thought' (Tom Bottomore et al, 1983, Harvard University Press, p. 204, entry "Hinduism"). Ronald Inden: Imagining India [1990:pp. 154-156, 197] See also Appendix C: Dossier on Romila Thapar
  2. Thapar, Jha and Sharma are quoted Marxist historians in the entry 'Hinduism' of 'A Dictionary of The Marxist Thought' (Tom BOTTOMORE et al, 1983, Harvard University Press, p. 204). Ronald INDEN, in his Imagining India [1990:pp. 154-156, 197] clearly refers to Thapar as a Marxist historian. According to Witzels characterizations, Inden and Bottomore would also be "Right Wing Hindu Fundamentalists" [6]
  3. Bottomore, T. B. 1983. A Dictionary of Marxist thought. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
  4. Tom Bottomore, ed: A Dictionary of Marxist Thought, entry Hinduism, pp. 203-06.
  5. https://m.timesofindia.com/india/PMs-daughter-takes-on-Marxist-view-of-history/articleshow/3143298.cms
  6. Secularism begins with uniform civil code: Romila Thapar
  7. What Secularism is and Where It Needs to Be Headed
  8. It’s time to move towards a Uniform Civil Code
  9. "Bhima-Koregaon violence: SC rejects historian Romila Thapar's review petition". Zee News. 2018-10-24. Retrieved 2019-04-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Gravy Train of Eminent Historians about to end". IndiaFacts. 2013-10-28. Retrieved 2019-04-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Gravy Train of Eminent Historians about to end". IndiaFacts. 2013-10-28. Retrieved 2019-04-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Romila Thapar's appointment to Library of Congress opposed"- Rediff article dated 25 April 2003
  13. Bidwai, Praful (13 May 2003). "McCarthyism's Indian rebirth". Rediff. Retrieved 4 April 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Gatade, Subhash (June 2003). "Hating Romila Thapar". Himal South Asian. Archived from the original on 9 December 2006. Retrieved 4 April 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. (Text) "Letter of Protest by Scholars and Intellectuals Against the Attack on Romila Thapar". South Asia Citizens Web. 7 May 2003. Retrieved 4 April 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "And Now in USA ... Attack on Romila Thapar". People's Democracy. 11 May 2003. Retrieved 11 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Nussbaum, Martha Craven (2008). The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future. Harvard University Press. p. 230. ISBN 978-0-674-03059-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "The Rediff Interview/ Romila Thapar". Rediff. 4 February 1999.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Chaudhry, D.R. (28 April 2002). "Critiques galore!". The Tribune. Retrieved 7 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Hating Romila Thapar". 2003. Retrieved 3 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. 21.0 21.1 Mukherji, Mridula; Mukherji, Aditya, eds. (2002). Communalisation of Education: The history textbook controversy (PDF). New Delhi: Delhi Historians' Group.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Thapar, Romila (9 December 2001). "Propaganda as history won't sell". Hindustan Times. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Communalisation of Education: Fighting history's textbook war". Indian Express. 28 January 2002. Retrieved 7 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Thapar, Romila (28 February 2006). "Creationism By Any Other Name ..." Outlook. Retrieved 4 April 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Thapar, Jha and Sharma are quoted Marxist historians in the entry 'Hinduism' of 'A Dictionary of The Marxist Thought' (Tom BOTTOMORE et al, 1983, Harvard University Press, p. 204). Ronald INDEN, in his Imagining India [1990:pp. 154-156, 197] clearly refers to Thapar as a Marxist historian. According to Witzel’s characterizations, Inden and Bottomore would also be ‘Right Wing Hindu Fundamentalists’!