Bipan Chandra

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Bipan Chandra in 2006

Bipan Chandra (27 May 1928 – 30 August 2014) was an Indian Marxist historian, specialising in economic and political history of modern India.


  • By no definition could Akbar or Aurangzeb be declared a foreigner, unless being a Muslim was made the ground for declaring one a foreigner. In reality, the struggle between Pratap and Akbar or Shivaji and Aurangzeb had to be viewed as a political struggle in its particular historical setting. To declare Akbar or Aurangzeb a ‘foreigner’ and Pratap or Shivaji a ‘national’ hero was to project into past history the communal outlook of 20th century India. This was not only bad history; it was also a blow to national unity.
    • Quoted from Arun Shourie (2014) Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud. HarperCollins.
  • Moreover, the British and communal historians attacked the notion of a composite culture in India.
    • Quoted from Arun Shourie (2014) Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud. HarperCollins.
  • There was an impression of hope and optimism when the Conference started, but very soon it was clear that Jinnah’s intransigence and rearguard action by the imperialists would make it impossible for it to succeed. The negotiations broke down because Jinnah insisted that all the Muslim members of the Executive Council should be nominated only by the League. Nor were the British willing to sign any agreement with the Congress to which the Muslim League was not a party. The policy of ‘Divide and Rule’ was at its zenith.
    • Bipan Chandra, Amales Tripathi, and Barun De. Freedom Struggle, A National Book Trust Publication, New Delhi, 1972, reprinted 1975, p. 224.

Quotes about Bipan Chandra[edit]

  • He was successful in articulating a usable political history, and then openly practicing history as ideology by other means. His assumptions are now so widespread that we forget what an achievement it was to make them hegemonic. One assumption, clearly articulated in Communalism in Modern India, was that while communal consciousness could exist in pre-Modern India, communalism could not. This is not the place to go into the veracity of this claim. But what is striking is that this conclusion is arrived at almost a priori. History is an elaboration of this claim, not evidence for it... The strange Congress-Left elective affinity was forged less by a fear of the RSS than by the fact that the Congress, during the ’70s, gave up its own complex historical sensibility and substituted it with the Left. Chandra was the key protagonist in that significant historical transformation and therefore dominated like few historians have.
    • Bipan Chandra: The man whose view of Modern India is inescapable , by P.B. Mehta: [1] September 2, 2014
  • As a historian, Chandra had the confidence to admit whenever any of his formulation was disproved. “That’s how he kept evolving as a historian,” says Mukherjee. He was humble too, often admitting in class that his English wasn’t as good as fellow historian and colleague S Gopal. Chandra was a Marxist historian; however, in the last few decades, he also developed an admiration for Gandhi and his methods. In fact, his book on the rise and growth of economic nationalism in modern India was first published by the Left’s in-house, People’s Publishing House. Communist intellectual Mohit Sen was one of his firm friends.
    • Avijit Ghosh , 2014, Eminent historian Bipan Chandra passes away Avijit Ghosh | TNN | Aug 30, 2014 [2]
  • Academic feudalism – that is, the relations that develop between an influential professor and his protégés – takes many forms... In JNU, an eminent nationalist historian, Professor Bipan Chandra, was so well known for placing his students in departmental posts that others did not even bother to apply if they did not have his support.
    • Sagarika Ghose, ‘The politics of history,’ quoted from Arun Shourie (2014) Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud. HarperCollins.
  • Professor Bipan Chandra was sanctioned a sum of Rs 75,000 for the year 1987-88 for the assignment entitled A History of the Indian National Congress... He never cared to submit any manuscript. Upon inquiry, ICHR stated that the remaining balance is yet to be received because a formal manuscript in this regard is yet to be received…..Later I learnt that the Rs 75,000/- which had been allotted to this “eminent historian” for this project — “the Oral History Project” — had been but a part, a small part of the total take. … As nothing but nothing had turned up in the ICHR in return for its grant, the second part of my query remained: what action had the ICHR taken in the matter? Eventually I was told, ‘No action has been initiated on this as Dr Bipan Chandra is stated to be still working on the project.’ That was the position nine years after his eminence had collected the money!... The ICHR commenced a National Movement Project to document the freedom struggle from the mid-1850. Bipin Chandra took Rs 12000 to produce the volume covering 1885-86. Result? Nothing has been heard of it since….To assist him to shoulder his onerous load in this regard, the ICHR has employed over the years, one regular staff member plus eight staff members on consolidated salary. Result? Not submitted. But, to be fair, this pattern is not confined to this eminent historian alone. It has been the pattern for the entire institution manned and controlled by these ‘eminent historians’.
    • Arun Shourie (2014) Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud. HarperCollins.

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