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Romila Thapar's appointment to
Library of Congress opposed
April 25, 2003 05:33 IST
A petition is circulating on the Internet against the appointment of Professor Romila Thapar as First Holder of the Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the South at the Library of Congress.
The petitioners allege that she is a Marxist and anti-Hindu and it is a waste of US money to support a Leftist.
The Librarian of Congress, James H Billington, appointed Thapar last week and she has already started work, Robert Saladini, a spokesperson for the library, said. He said he has no information on the petition.
The petition can be viewed at: http://www.petitiononline.com/108india/petition.html
The holder of the chair, which is located in the John W Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, pursues research on the regions of Africa, Latin America, West Asia, South and Southeast Asia, or the islands of the Pacific including Australia and New Zealand, using the immense foreign language collections in the specialised reading rooms of the Library of Congress.
Thapar will spend ten months at the John W Kluge Center pursuing 'Historical Consciousness in Early India' as her area of research.
Thapar, emeritus professor of Ancient Indian History at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, who has served as visiting professor at Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania, is an authority on Indian history.
The author of many seminal works on the history of ancient India, her volume of the 'Penguin History of India' has been continuously in print since 1966. Her latest publication is 'Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300'. Other recent works are 'History and Beyond' and 'Cultural Pasts: Essays in Early Indian History'.
She has held many visiting posts in Europe, the United States and Japan. She is an Honorary Fellow at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She has honorary doctorates from the University of Chicago, the Institute National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris, the University of Oxford and the University of Calcutta.
Through a generous endowment from John W Kluge, the Library of Congress established the center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate, energise, and distil wisdom from the library's rich resources and to interact with policy makers in Washington, DC.
The center houses five senior Kluge Chairs.
The petitioners say: "It is a great travesty that Romila Thapar has been appointed the first holder of the Kluge Chair.
"In regards to India, she is an avowed antagonist of India's Hindu civilization as a well-known Marxist. She represents a completely Euro-centric worldview. I fail to see how she can be the correct choice to represent India's ancient history and civilization.
"She completely disavows that India ever had a history. The ongoing campaign by Romila Thapar and others to discredit Hindu civilization is a war of cultural genocide. By your unfortunate selection of Thapar, America is now aiding and abetting this effort."
The petition has 133 signatures already. One of the signatories, Hari Singh, said: "The comments from Ms Thapar are disgusting and are reflection of her ignorance of Indian History."
Venkatesh, another signatory, commented, "It's a shame to the USA & Indian govt. that a Communist like Romila Thapar is having a free run."