One big family: The Hindutva takeover of ICHR is fuelled by nepotism

India’s apex historical research body is now dominated by members of an RSS affiliate. However, jobs at ICHR are secured not just by ideology, but also family ties.

ByAyush Tiwari
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One big family: The Hindutva takeover of ICHR is fuelled by nepotism
Shambhavi Thakur
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For its foundation day in 2019, the Indian Council of Historical Research organised an event in New Delhi where Balmukund Pandey was invited to speak.

While introducing Pandey, the gentleman compering the event gave the audience an overview of the speaker’s credentials: Pandey had a Masters degree in history from Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gorakhpur University; a PhD from Jiwaji University in Gwalior; he became a pracharak with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1990; and since 2007, he had been associated with an RSS affiliate, the Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana, or ABISY.

“I’ve prayed since childhood,” Pandey told the gathering, “‘O God, give us strength, give us knowledge, give us modesty, give us courage, give us patience, that by organising this nation on the basis of dharm (religious duty), we can take it to the highest glory’.”

Pandey is the national organising secretary of ABISY and his dream of a nation that has “dharm” as its foundation would be of little public interest if it wasn’t for the prominent role Pandey and ABISY are playing in ICHR, an autonomous body that comes under the ministry of education.

Balmukund Pandey is an RSS man and the organising secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojna. | Photo from Facebook

Balmukund Pandey is an RSS man and the organising secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojna. | Photo from Facebook

While Pandey is a regular fixture at ICHR conferences and seminars, his nephew is a deputy director at the institution and many other ABISY associates occupy a variety of positions at ICHR.

Using ICHR documents and insider accounts, Newslaundry has uncovered how RSS, through ABISY and its loyalists, has taken control of the nation’s premier institution of academic history.

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