Faith-based academics

For the sake of credible scholarship a rational academic discourse must prevail

Greater Kashmir
Publish Date: Nov 22 2014 9:21PM | Updated Date: Nov 22 2014 9:21PM

Serious concerns are being voiced by academics and historians throughout the country for what are being viewed as clear attempts to introduce a particular faith's view of history, science and political evolution in India.

Some people have publicly voiced their disapproval of attempts to teach the superiority of a particular religion's values and mythology at the cost of academic rigour - something that is widely understood to go against the grain of secularism that binds multi-faith modern India together.

Historians like Romila Thapar have termed all these developments disturbing, and expressed concern that this could impact credible and rigorous scholarship. There are also widespread concerns in the country's research fraternity about actions in the areas of academics that point to signs of a broader plan to bring more Hinduism to the classroom through changes to the curriculum.

The fact that two states being ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have recruited a controversial Hindu nationalist to advise on writing textbooks makes the situation ever more concerning.

The experience from the previous BJP rule in India offers not so re-assuring insights for that there were attempts to rewrite school books in line with Hindu-nationalist orthodoxy.

Such attempts did not go well with the vast numbers of other religious minorities in the country. The head of the Indian Council of Historical Research Prof. Y Sudershan Rao's recent comments about the "evidence" of ancient India's progress in modern sciences like aviation and stem cell have already upset many fellow historians.

Mr. Rao was recently appointed to the prestigious academic post by the new BJP government. All this exemplifies the larger thought processes - reflected by none other than the country's new prime minister who raised a public furore both within and outside the country when he said that some holy texts show many discoveries of modern science were made by ancient Indians.

Any such attempts would only be destabilizing - especially in states like Jammu & Kashmir. For the sake of secularism and respectful and credible scholarship a rational academic discourse must prevail in the country.