History being taught like science, says former prisons official

Without the knowledge of the past there can be no vision for future, says C.N. Gopinath Reddy, former State Director General of Prisons.

Addressing the valedictory session of a two-day seminar on ‘Socio-religious and cultural responses of India to the Colonial rule in the 19th & the early 20th centuries’ organised by the Department of History, Andhra Loyola College, on Saturday, Mr. Reddy lamented the manner in which a key subject like history was being placed on the backburner.

“Engineering and medicine have become the be-all and end-all for students. We may soon have a scenario where students will be offered a crash course in history,” he said.

Stressing the need to design the education policy for a secure future, he said lest we were bound to ‘suffer tomorrow’. “There is no doubt about the fact that history repeats itself, but the question here is with what interval of time. Administrators of educational institutions must put their minds together and think,” he urged.

Pointing out that the role of several unsung heroes of freedom struggle has gone unnoticed because of lack of proper documentation of facts, he said Indians were poor in documentation. “That is precisely because we believe that we have great memory,” he said. Taking exception to the fact that the subject of history was being taught in classrooms like science, he said: “History is art, not science. A history teacher must transform into a dramatist. If you are teaching about Akbar, the students must be able to see an Akbar in you,” he said.

He appealed to the contemporary historians to collect information of the happenings around and store the information for future generations.

Former Dean, Sarojini Naidu School of Theatre and Performing Arts, University of Hyderabad, V. Rama Krishna, lamented the disinclination of the current crop of history teachers in research.

Lakshmi Subramanian of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata, reflected on some of the more recent writings on music and performance in South Asia, including her own work on the subject.

Her other concern was to locate the recent scholarship on music and performance within a larger context of history writing that is coming to be recognised as ‘new cultural history’ – the operative word and emphasis being ‘New’.

Atheist leader Lavanam, who was felicitated on the occasion, cited Bernard Shaw’s quote:

“If you don’t get what you like, you’ll be forced to like what you get”. He asked the current generation as to as to what kind of history it wanted to create.

ALC Principal Fr. G. A. Peter Kishore, Correspondent Francis Xavier, seminar convenor M. Srinivasa Reddy and others participated.

  • Several heroes of freedom struggle have gone unnoticed because of lack of documentation

  • Contemporary historians urged to collect information for future generations