The government-funded Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) is creating a database of all historians in a bid to keep tabs on trends in historical research and teaching at universities across the country.
The database will be created through a survey called ‘State of the Discipline Survey in History’ under which every research scholar/teacher will register with the ICHR with details such as place of work, area of research and publications.
The survey could raise eyebrows in liberal circles which may see it as the BJP government’s attempt to monitor historical research in India as part of its so-called “saffronisation” of history.
ICHR, which promotes historical research by giving grants, was hit by controversy recently over the appointment of Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, a known supporter of Sanatan Hindu religion and Vedic literature, as its chairperson.
“The ICHR has initiated a State of the Discipline Survey in History for surveying and assessing the state of history teaching and research on India. This information will help us in compiling a database of teachers and researchers engaged in universities/colleges working in different areas of history,” said a note ICHR member secretary Gopinath Ravindran sent to all universities and colleges.
Ravindran said the exercise, the first of its kind in the country, will help take stock of the discipline and improve history research in the country.
“It will help us know the trend in history-writing in the country,” he told HT. “We will get to know whether an institution has the requisite number of history faculties or not; whether the grants given for a particular research are being utilised properly or not.”
Former ICHR chairperson and noted historian Irfan Habib said the ICHR was not an intelligence agency which should keep details of the research scholars but added that he did not see any “design” in the move. “It will help the specialists in the field,” he said.