Mainstream, VOL LIII No 6, January 31, 2015 - Republic Day Special
Resolutions adopted by the 75th Session of Indian History Congress
Saturday 31 January 2015
The following two resolutions were adopted by the 75th Session of the Indian History Congress held at the Academic Staff College, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi last month. These were first passed by the Congress’ Executive Committee on December 29, 2014 and subsequently by the General Body of the IHC on December 30, 2014.
In Defence of Scientific Method in History
The Indian History Congress throughout its existence has been committed to the cause of the scientific method in history and its pursuit free of any sectarian or chauvinistic approaches. It has, therefore, been perturbed to hear voices being raised in certain influential quarters on the need to rewrite Indian history through an abundant use of ancient mythology and speculative chronology, while fresh myths, like that of Indians originally peopling the whole world, are being created. Unfortunately even the Prime Minister has suggested that in the hoary past Indians had learnt, and then, forgotten, plastic surgery of a kind going far beyond what is now possible. There is widespread belief that soon textbooks will be revised or rewritten, to inculcate such a strongly misleading and divisive brand of history among pupils in our schools.
The Indian History Congress is confident that all genuine historians would stand by the values of their profession and resist interested distortions of our past. It also calls upon all members of the political establishment to refrain from making statements contrary to well-established historical facts. They should under-stand that loose or irresponsible statements of this kind tarnish the good repute of this country.
Preservation and Conservation of Monuments
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has adopted a document containing rules for conservation of monuments and archaeological sites and remains (“The National Conservation Policy”). There are, in addition, international practices governing preservation and conser-vation of ancient structures as well as detailed norms adopted by the Archaeological Survey of India itself. Many of these basic rules, however, appear to have been violated in the case of such conservation projects assigned by the ASI to private agencies. One notable example is Humayun’s Tomb. Here two principles, namely, strict use only of materials that were originally employed in construction and repair, and clear demarcation of the current additions in the name of restoration, have been clearly violated. Even colour-schemes appear to have been changed. Moreover, facilities are being provided to tourists in a manner that threatens to damage the environment of the monument.
The Indian History Congress is disturbed at what has happened at this World Heritage Site, and hopes that a full report on the so-called restorations and a fresh colour-scheme that have been devised by the private agency concerned, and how the lapses made can now be rectified. At the same time, until the matter is settled, no preservation and restoration work on other monuments by private agencies should be permitted.