The Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) was entirely reconstituted last week with 18 fresh appointees including office-bearers of the RSS-backed Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana (ABISY).
The gazette notification reconstituting the Council was issued on February 24, two months after the three-year-term of the outgoing members expired. In reconstituting the Council, the Union Human Resource Development Ministry set aside the long-standing convention of re-appointing members who had completed just a single term.
As per the ICHR’s Memorandum of Association, no member of the Council can have more than two consecutive terms. The cycle of nominations to the Council has been such that an average of eight outgoing members are usually re-nominated. A senior professor of History said: “The Ministry clearly wanted to purge Marxist historians” with the decision not to renominate any members.
The ABISY office-bearers in the Council are Narayan Rao, former professor at Berhampur University and Ishwar Sharan Vishwakarma, professor in the Department of Ancient History, Archaeology and Culture at Gorakhpur University. Both hold senior positions in ABISY which was set up to rewrite history and collect archaeological evidence. Gangmumei Kamei, a former history professor at Manipur University and the BJP's candidate for the Outer Manipur Lok Sabha constituency in 2014 also finds a place in the Council.
Other newly appointed members are history professors Meenakshi Jain and Saradindu Mukherjee, who have criticised the Left for its influence on academia. An Associate Professor at Delhi's Gargi College, Prof. Jain has in the past critiqued the NCERT's textbook on Medieval India by Satish Chandra during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Prof. Mukherjee, who was a member of the Indian Council of Social Science Research in the previous NDA regime, has often spoken out against “academic fascism” of the Left and questioned the “secularist” discourse.