Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments in October, that Lord Ganesha was the product of plastic surgery, has prompted the Indian History Congress, attended by over 2000 professional historians in Delhi, to pass a resolution that says “genuine historians would stand by the values of their profession and resist interested distortions of our past.”
The resolution, adopted during its Platinum Jubilee meet on Tuesday, mentions the Prime Minister’s statement and also “calls upon the members of the political establishment to refrain from making statements contrary to well-established historical facts.”
Speaking to NDTV, well-known historian Professor Aditya Mukherjee said, “The Prime Minister shouldn’t confuse between history and mythology. In many societies, there are tales of people flying, doing other extraordinary things, but they can’t be taken as history.”
Mr Mukherjee, who also heads the School of Social Sciences in the Jawaharlal Nehru University, responded to the often-cited argument that Historiography in India has been Left-centric and biased. “There should not be a problem if there are multiple perspectives. In fact, it is good that if the discipline’s rigor is challenged but you can’t treat imagination as history,” said Mr Mukherjee
Indian History Congress’s meet has been in the news for raising issues of contemporary debate. Apart from the PM’s statement on Ganesha, the conference also talked about “attempts to change school textbooks”. Right-wing hardliners have been accused of trying to pressure the government to rewrite school books in line with Hindu-nationalist orthodoxy.Inaugurating the event on Sunday, Vice President Hamid Ansari had cautioned that the attempt to portray “India as a homogenous nation is problematic”.
The ruling BJP, however, didn’t seek to join in any kind of war of words. Environment Minister Prakash Javdekar told NDTV, “In a democracy, people are entitled to their views. But history is history and it can’t be changed.”