ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Romila ThaparSubscribe to Romila Thapar

Ram Sharan Sharma (1920-2011)

R S Sharma was among a small group of historians who in the 1950s broke new ground in the study of ancient India. One pioneering development was the expansion in the range of sources, from using texts alone to supplementing them with archaeological data and introducing data from inscriptions. R S Sharma's second major contribution was in using an analytical method to examine data.

On the UIDAI

A project that proposes to give every resident a “unique identity number” is a matter of great concern for those working on issues of food security, NREGA, migration, technology, decentralisation, constitutionalism, civil liberties and human rights.

Statement on Ayodhya Verdict

The judgment delivered by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute on 30 September has raised serious concerns because of the way history, reason and secular values have been treated in it.

The Quest of Dharmanand

Dharmanand Kosambi: The Essential Writings edited and translated by Meera Kosambi

Hope of a Fresh Initiative

We, the undersigned, welcome the public statement of Sonia Gandhi, the President of the Congress Party that the extreme neglect of the tribal areas is at the root of the present crisis in those regions.

Ashoka - A Retrospective

Ashoka of the Maurya dynasty is today perceived as one of the greatest rulers of our history. But over the millennia he was perceived in various ways and a retrospective of his influence is almost a tour through the entire span of Indian history. Why was this extraordinary ruler seemingly ignored by some; why has he become so prominent in recent times? How has his influence permeated through different historical periods and how have his legacy and ideas been appropriated, by whom and in what form? Is it possible to draw ideas from him for our contemporary concerns without doing harm to the historical context?

Early Indian History and the Legacy of D D Kosambi

This article discusses three of the many themes in D D Kosambi's writings which have been seminal to the study of early Indian history: the relationship between tribe and caste, the link between Buddhism and trade, and the nature of feudalism in India. Many of the methods of Kosambi's analyses are substantially valid even 50 years later. Some need reconsideration either because of new evidence or because of new theories of explanation or because the overall perspectives of the past are today differently nuanced. Kosambi's intellectual perspectives and sensibilities were inevitably of his own times. Up to a point they carry traces of both the idealism and the dismissals of those times. He insistently asserted his autonomy from the clutches of contemporary orthodoxies, both of the Left and of the Right. The past was not to be used as a mechanism of political mobilisation as it has increasingly come to be among some in our time. The sources that inform us about the past have to be meticulously analysed and subjected to a rigorous methodology irrespective of their status or the authority they command. Kosambi would undoubtedly have agreed that the advance of knowledge was dependent on a constant critiquing of existing explanations.

Historical Memory without History

Questions of identifying location and chronology do bother archaeologists and historians, but they need not be of consequence to those whose concern is only with faith, and the distinction has to be reiterated. What is at issue in the Setusamudram project, however, is not whether Rama existed or not, or whether the underwater formation was originally a bridge constructed at his behest, but a different and crucial set of questions relating to the environmental and economic impact of the project that require neither faith nor archaeology. They require far greater discussion if we are to understand what the project might achieve and what it might destroy.

Release Binayak Sen, Repeal Chhattisgarh Act

We, the undersigned, are dismayed at the continued detention of Binayak Sen, general secretary of the Chhattisgarh People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), since May 14. Binayak Sen is also national vice-president of PUCL, one of the oldest civil liberties organisations in India.

Decolonising the Past

The decades of the 1950s and 1960s were a watershed in the writing of history. Narratives of the past continued to be written as they are to this day, and there continues to be a valuable gathering of new evidence. But the more challenging trend has been to pursue answers to questions that relate to why and how something happened rather than merely when and where. Actions and events had multiple causes and the priorities among these have to be justified by the evidence as well as by logical argument. There is also a need to integrate a variety of facets in constructing a historical context. History was an explanation of what happened in the past, an attempt to understand the past, and of basing this understanding on ?critical enquiry?, incorporated into what is also called the ?historical method?. Historical understanding also has to be viewed as a ?process in time?.


Mahamaya Mines, 25 km away. This is an utterly Tughlak-like gesture. Being contractual workers, the RSP management, of course, has no obligation to provide even the barest of facilities, such as adequate water supply, housing, medical facilities or schools. Meanwhile if the workers go to Mahamaya, all the facilities that the Kokan Mines workers have themselves built up in Dalli Rajhara


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