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Friday, December 28, 2007

Right wing historians to challenge Leftists in history congress

By Arun Anand, New Delhi, Dec 28 : The 68th annual session of the Indian History Congress, the largest professional and academic body of Indian historians, beginning here Friday is all set to witness another round of ideological battle between the right wing and Marxist historians.

Even as preparations were in full swing at Delhi University on the eve of the three-day Congress where about 1,000 delegates are expected to participate and deliberate over various aspects of history and archaeology in the Indian context, the right wing historians were bracing up to ask some tough questions from the Leftists by distributing a controversial book to the delegates attending the Congress.

The book is a collection of articles analysing India's first war of independence in 1857. These articles, authored by historian Devendra Swarup, were earlier published in the weekly "Organiser" which is considered to be the mouthpiece of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, India's highly influential Hindu group.

Swarup said: "We want Marxist historians to come clean on this. We would like them to respond to what we have put forward in this book." The book has 28 articles - all critical of Marxist historians.

The book titled, "Did Moscow Play Fraud on Marx? The Mystery of Marx-Engels' articles on 1857", is likely to be the focal point of a major controversy even as the right wing historians grouped under the banner of Historians Forum are set to distribute this book and ask Leftist historians to respond.

The book attacks Marxist historians, questioning the validity of their viewpoint on India's first war of independence based on Marx's interpretation of the events. It claims that Indian Marxists have propagated this myth that Karl Marx, who was reporting from London for some newspapers at that time, wrote extensively about India's struggle for freedom in 1857.

The book, based on extensive research, claims that the archives nowhere reflect that Marx wrote more than a couple of articles on events in India in 1857. The book launches a scathing attack on noted contemporary and past historians and intellectuals known for their Left leanings such as Irfan Habib, Rajni Palme Datt and Mulkraj Anand.

Swarup in this book terms the Left viewpoint on such important events in history as nothing less than a "pitiable example of intellectual servility". The book also criticises Leftist historians for following blindly the viewpoint of Marx, who according to Swarup, termed British civilisation superior to India.

The Indian History Congress was established in 1935 and currently has around 10,000 members. The Constitution of Indian History Congress describes it as a body to promote and encourage scientific study of Indian history.

--- IANS

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