Why is Left academia so rattled by Vikram Sampath, Sai Deepak or Sanjeev Sanyal?


The Left in Indian academia is not used to talking much. For seven long decades, it has quietly run its writ without uttering too many words.

It wrote textbooks and re-wrote history with the singular ideological agenda of undermining Hindus, their past, and their incontrovertible bond with the nation. Anybody who did not partake of the whitewash of anti-Hindu genocides or participate in the vilification campaign of nationalists were cornered and cancelled.

Universities ran in a client-patron model. Sub-mediocre students or scholars would be protected and rewarded solely for their ideological loyalty. Bright minds from the non-Left would be denied guides or peer reviews by the cabal. Those like Arun Shourie, Sita Ram Goel, Ram Swarup, Koenraad Elst, Michel Danino, David Frawley or Meenakshi Jain would be deemed communal.

Stalwarts such as Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, Nilakanta Sastri, and Jadunath Sarkar would be discredited on some pretext or the other.

In his book titled Njan Enna Bharatiyan (I, an Indian), former regional director of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), KK Muhammed accused Left historians of instigating Muslims over the Ram temple in Ayodhya and preventing reconciliation with Hindus.

“The Babri issue would have been settled long ago if the Muslim intelligentsia had not fallen prey to the brain-washing by the Leftist historians,” he wrote. “A set of historians, including Romila Thapar, Bipin Chandra and S Gopal argued that there was no mention of the dismantling of the temple before the 19th century and Ayodhya is a Buddhist-Jain centre. They were supported by historians Irfan Habib, RS Sharma, DN Jha, Suraj Bhan and Akthar Ali.”

While on one hand the Left academics ruthlessly bulldozed works and careers of brilliant non-Left scholars, on the other it carefully built the narrative that what the Right did was intellectually arid.

All this would be done with a silent, chilling audacity for seven, long decades. Then something changed.

So powerful and unsettling has been that change that the Left academia first started talking, then loudly protesting and trying to cancel or silence, and now desperately trying to orchestrate hit jobs by bullying publishers, raising bogey charges of plagiarism, and even carrying out fraudulent signature campaigns abroad.

Last month, Supreme Court lawyer J Sai Deepak was invited to speak at an interactive session at St Stephen’s Leadership Conclave. But hours before the event, his invitation was cancelled following opposition from the students of the college’s Gender Studies Cell. It issued a statement opposing the invite to Deepak calling him “Islamophobic” for his views on the hijab controversy. This comes from the same ideological block that screams the loudest about Freedom of Expression.

This incident followed a vicious campaign against author Vikram Sampath, who has written a widely acclaimed two-volume book on freedom fighter and revolutionary Hindutva thinker Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. Historians like Audrey Truschke, who sought to whitewash the genocide of Hindus by one of the most brutally bigoted rulers in history, Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, started accusing Sampath of plagiarism and distortion without a shred of proof.

Author and member of the Economic Advisory Council to the PM, Sanjeev Sanyal, face a barrage of attacks from time to time.

None of these attacks challenges facts in his books. The grouse is that he is not a “trained” historian. Who in their eyes is a trained historian? Only those who use the material are ideologically screened by the cabal.

Why has the Left intelligentsia got so desperate, vocal, and despondent? What has changed?

In the last six or seven years, with a nationalist government at the helm and massive market demand for honest, undistorted content, a robust set of intellectual work has come up from the non-Left camp. A new wave of talented writers like Sanyal, Sai Deepak, Sampath, Vivek Debroy, Amish Tripathi, Saiswaroopa Iyer, Aravindan Neelakandan, Hindol Sengupta and others have arrived with such force that they have usurped the shelf space in bookstores and libraries once monopolised by the Left.

They had to work extra hard for it. They had to overcome biases in academics and the publishing world that bordered on downright hostility. Why did they still breakthrough? Because readers wanted unadulterated truth. The market is ripe to consume quality content on your nation’s past, present and future.

Apart from collapsing its credibility, the Left also fears its losing grip on the nation’s intellectual narrative. The real history is coming out of its red cage. That is a body blow from which the Left may never fully recover.

The power has come from their control of the narrative. To cling on to that straw, they see truth and FoE as minor sacrifices. But even that may not be enough.

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Why is Left academia so rattled by Vikram Sampath, Sai Deepak or Sanjeev Sanyal?
Why is Left academia so rattled by Vikram Sampath, Sai Deepak or Sanjeev Sanyal?
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