Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Ram Guha in Nehru Memorial controversy

Historian Ramachandra Guha finds himself in the midst of a controversy at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. I haven't seen this reported anywhere and got to know about it only through a debate in ET last week. In the debate, Ram Guha and scholars on his side and Madhu Kishwar and several others on the opposite side aired their views.

I reproduce portions of the two versions below. The question I have is: in matters such as this, is it possible at all establish the truth? How does one do it? You can't have a judicial probe into every single matter- and even then the findings will be questioned. I don't pretend to have solution. If anybody does, please let me know.

Kishwar and company write:
The Petitions Committee of the Lok Sabha had found serious irregularities in the fellowship selections process conducted in NMML in 2004-05 (one year before Prof Mukherjee joined). Mr Ramachandra Guha was a member of the fellowship selection committee and of the sub-committee which did the shortlisting.

Their role has been questioned by the Petitions Committee and by the fact-finding inquiry set up by Dr Karan Singh, the NMML Executive Council chairman. The standing committee of Parliament for the ministry of culture and the Central Vigilance Commission have also asked NMML to take action in the matter. It is following this that Dr Karan Singh suspended the deputy director, N Balakrishnan, pending an enquiry, on 1 May 2009.

It appears that Ramachandra Guha and some others involved as selectors or beneficiaries want to remove Prof Mukherjee to subvert the process of a fair inquiry because they are afraid of being implicated by it. To this end they even launched a campaign in early May 2009 to get Balakrishnan’s suspension revoked.
Guha and others write:
The ET report vilified a senior scholar while disregarding the wider issues raised by 57 signatories to the memorandum to the prime minister, who include such widely respected intellectuals as Rajmohan Gandhi, Sunil Khilnani, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Sumit Sarkar, Nandini Sundar, Krishna Kumar, and Mushirul Hasan.

These scholars list four objective indicators of the decline of the NMML: (1) The once excellent publication programme has been discontinued; (2) The acquisition of rare manuscripts and oral histories is virtually at a standstill; (3) The once dedicated staff is totally demoralised; (4) The NMML has abandoned its principled non-partisanship by opening its doors to political use and misuse.

The fourth charge is perhaps the most grave. In past times, the NMML was open to all ideological currents. Its vast collections include the papers of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, but also of such longstanding opponents of the Congress as Dr S P Mookerjee and E M S Namboodiripad.


K.R.Srivarahan said...

The crucial issue seems to be the Fellowships Selection and the matter to be decided is whether the process during the relevant period was vitiated or not. NMML has its own Memorandum and by-laws.These must be defining the objectives and procedural requirements of Fellowship Selection.Therefore it should not be difficult to arrive at the truth.However , what hinders the process of arriving at the truth is the disagreement (an euphemism for baser instincts like jealousy) that invariably exists among intellectuals.For example, the spat between Guha and Arundathi Roy is only too well known to be recounted here.It may also interest you to know that Guha has recently stopped writing in The Hindu weekly magazine as a columnist.Ram and Guha were friends in the Ramayana, perhaps N'Ram and Guha are not friends any longer.

sam said...

Theirs no way to contact you. Theirs no contact section. Please make one.