February 06, 2005

Frauds of eminent historians

Left historians too wanted to prevent publication of
Panikkar's book: MGS
Sunday February 6 2005 10:32 IST

KOZHIKODE: Prof M.G.S.Narayanan has denied a report
which appeared in a newspaper stating that the one man
review committee, appointed by the ministry, had
accused Narayanan, the then chairman of the ICHR, of
``total lack of intellectual and academic integrity by
becoming party to the disgraceful act of withdrawal of
the two volumes written by historians Sumit Sarkar and

In a statement issued here on Saturday, Narayanan
said, ``The whole report is couched in the language of
party politics.''

He said as chairman of the ICHR from July 2001 to
December 2003, he was not party to the withdrawal of
any volume of the `Towards Freedom' project.

The said volumes were already in the press for a long

``The said volumes were not `written' by the said
scholars, as represented wrongly by the reporter. This
was a Council Project, started in 1973 and the Council
had spent crores of rupees from public funds over many
years for these and other volumes. The Council had
employed editors and provided them all facilities, and
paid the salary for their research assistants. The
editors employed by the Council were expected to
select some from the large number of documents
procured by the Council, to classify them, and to
provide an Introduction. Preparation of the
Introduction was an important, nay crucial, part of
the editorial work.

``Several historian members of the Council complained
that the two volumes had gone to press without being
cleared for publication by the Research Committee of
the Council and approved by the Council. This was
shocking. I went through all the minutes and files of
the Council, but there was nothing to show that the
Council's approval had been sought or obtained. It was
my firm view that the Council was not responsible for
the editor's political attitudes, but had the
responsibility to see that the editors had done their
work, at least written the Introduction.

``It was reported that Dr. Panikkar's volume had gone
to the press in a hurry, when there was a change in
the ministry, without the Introduction that was to be
an essential part of the volume. Members rightly
suspected foul play, and more such pranks. The Council
asked the printers to send back the manuscripts for
perusal. They refused to do so, and this naturally
increased the suspicion about foul play. Finally, when
the manuscripts were brought back after several
months, after the court's intervention, the worst
suspicions were confirmed. Dr. Panikkar's volume had
been sent to the press without the Introduction. Dr.
S.Gopal, the General Editor, had failed to notice this
glaring defect or preferred to ignore it.

``I knew that several `Right' historians were hostile
to these editors. What was really surprising was that
several so-called `Left' historians also wanted to
prevent the publication of these volumes during the
period of the BJP rule. Perhaps they also felt that
they could blame the Council for delay in publication.
Much pressure was put on me, but as long as I was the
chairman I refused to oblige such people. I refuse to
allow the Marxist Party or any other party including
the ruling parties, to interfere with our programme. I
also maintained that the General Editor or Editors,
whoever they were, had no right to send the
manuscripts for publication in the name of the
Council, until they were submitted to the Council and
approved in the proper manner.

``Dr. Panikkar did not appear to be interested in
publication. He did not give the Introduction. He and
his friends were apparently afraid of being exposed
for cheating the Council by submitting the script
without the Introduction. The disgrace, if any,
remains with him for politicizing the issue
continuously to cover up his own irregular action. I
challenge the one man committee to come out with
records to disprove my statement that they (the
manuscripts) ``had been sent to the press without
clearance from the Research Project Committee of the

``The report has also quoted a statement of the
officer that `all the records the Council made
available to the Committee clearly showed that the
manuscripts were duly processed before they were sent
to the press''. This is a lie. If they found any such
records, let them publish them. Having gone through
all the files, and consulted all the officials
concerned, I have not come across any such records'',
the statement added.


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