Historian Romila Thapar: "I write what I think is right…take it or leave it”

Historians in the News
tags: India, Romila Thapar

As a globally renowned professional historian, she has in recent years been the target of vicious right-wing trolls who are out to spread their own version of history. If it doesn't seem to overly bother her, it is because, unknown to most, Romila Thapar's life has been one lived amidst sustained hate and criticism.

Thapar completed her PhD in 1958 from the University of London and returned to India in 1961 and joined Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, in 1970 as professor of Ancient Indian History (after brief stints at Kurukshetra University and the University of Delhi). 

Just seven years after she joined JNU, her troubles began. In the late 1970s, several members in the Janata Party and the Morarji Desai government sought changes in textbooks. The books that were targeted by members of the Jan Sangh - which later morphed into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- included two significant works by Thapar: "Medieval India" written by her, and "Communalism and the Writing of Indian History", which she wrote along with Harbans Mukhia and Bipan Chandra. 

Those protesting against these books criticised Thapar for several reasons, primarily for going soft on Muslim rulers like Aurangzeb. 

"I did not allow the textbooks written by me to be changed because every time they would want to make a change, I would say, yes go ahead and make a change, just take my name off the book. But they didn't want to do that because they wanted the legitimacy of the name of a historian and yet they wanted to make the changes," she told IANS in an interview. 

Her troubles with the BJP did not end there. She was removed from the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) less than three months after the BJP came to power in 1999. ...

Read entire article at timesnownews.com

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