Saturday, June 27, 2009

Whither NMML?: A response from Ramachandra Guha

Today's Economic Times has carried two controversial essays, seeking to dispute with each other, on the state of affairs at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi. The pro-change group comprises eminent authors like Ramachandra Guha and Rajmohan Gandhi. The pro-status quo group comprises Madhu Kishwar, among others. The two essays, linked here, represent the views of these two groups. As I was intrigued by the silence of the pro-change group on some of the allegations made by the other, I requested Guha to share his response with us, if any. We are thankful to Guha for sharing an advance copy of his letter to the ET, along with a copy of the letter written by the pro-change group to the Prime Minister.

Letter for publication in the Economic Times

The article by Kishwar et al (ET, Saturday, 27th June) repeats the canard that the memo on the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library recently sent by 57 scholars to the Prime Minister was motivated by me because of irregularities in a selection committee I was involved in. This is a palpable slander—the selections were made fairly, and I have nothing to hide. The scholarly community is well aware of the decline in the NMML. The note to the PM exhaustively documents the reasons for this and suggests concrete methods for its reversal.
That said, I do have a personal stake in the saving of the NMML—and it is this. All my books, including ‘India after Gandhi’, were written on the basis of its collections. Intellectually and professionally, I have been made by it. I now fear that with its decline, younger historians may never have the chances and opportunities that were once open to scholars of my generation.
My personal reputation can survive any amount of ill-informed or motivated criticism. Whether the NMML can survive even a further year of systematic mismanagement is another matter.

Ramachandra Guha
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