Up against the proposal by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the NITI Aayog to merge the councils of historical and philosophical research with the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) stands the HRD Ministry.
Not being able to be satisfied with the potential dividends the exercise would yield, the ministry voted against the proposal at a meeting held recently and came down to the decision to forward their concerns to the PMO and NITI Aayog.
The ministry, as the sources say, believes that the mandate of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR) and ICSSR is not on the same course and hence, their ability to cater to different purposes will dilute, also dissolving the motive for which each of the autonomous organisations was originally established. To NITI Aayog’s alternative suggestion to merge the ICHR and ICPR with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) too, the ministry shows a big ‘no-no’.
The ICHR got its name embedded in stone in the year 1972, established with the purpose of promoting and coordinating research in history. The organisation works “to give a national direction to an objective and scientific writing of history and to have rational presentation and interpretation of history”.
Guided by the lines of the ICHR, the Centre came down to the decision of setting up an exclusive body on the discipline of philosophy back in the year 1977. With the objective of preserving “India’s profound, long and living philosophical tradition”, the ICPR was thus established. Over a long course of time, the three councils- ICSSR, ICPR and ICHR have struggled and served the nation between the prolonged war between the left and right winged ideologies.
When questioned about the NITI Aayog’s suggestion, former ICHR chairman Y S Rao, claimed,“I came to know of this proposal only through media reports. I have no information about the details of the scheme. So I have no comments.” Rao had his retirement from the post last month.
Initially, the merger of the three councils was suggested as part of the review of the 114 autonomous bodies under seven ministries or departments, undertaken by the PMO and NITI Aayog. One third of these (42) organisations got listed for “reduction”, some by winding up entirely, merging with other entities, re-organizing under a common umbrella, others by corporatizing.
Including many recommendations, one was to marge the Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT) with the Central Institute of Indian Languages in Mysuru. The recommendation alone was capable of creating a thunder of controversies in Tamil Nadu. The Tamils to this as Centre’s attempt to suppress the Tamil people and gain Hindi supremacy. The matter will now be taken up in the state assembly and the opposition is demanding a resolution against any attempt at merger.
The MHRD is also determined to make the NITI Aayog aware of the many sensitivities that run deeply with these organisations, which primarily focus on preserving, propagating and promoting languages.