A. Sreedhara Menon
Professor Alappat Sreedhara Menon (18 December 1925 – 23 July 2010) was a historian from Kerala, India. He received the Padma Bhushan for Literature & Education in 2009, India's third highest civilian honour.
He was a noted academic, having taught history across the universities in Kerala. He served as the Registrar of the University of Kerala and authored the official history of the University in two volumes. Menon edited eight volumes of Kerala Gazetteers and served on the editorial board of journals including the Journal of Indian History and Journal of Kerala Studies, both published by the Department of History, University of Kerala.
His Padma Bhushan citation describes him as
"a distinguished academician from Kerala who has rendered meritorious service to the cause of education and Literature... (and) left his mark as a teacher of History, author of historical works and educational administrator."
Sreedhara Menon passed the Secondary School Leaving Certificate in 1940 with First Class and proceeded to the Madras University where he passed the Intermediate Examination in 1942 with distinction in Hindi, Indian History, and Modem History. In 1944, supported by the Maharaja's scholarship, he completed his Bachelor of Arts from the Maharaja's College, Ernakulam winning the Karimpat Rama Menon Gold Medal and the Rama Varma Shashtiabdapurthi Memorial Prize for English. He then continued his Master of Arts (postgraduate) at Madras University completing it in 1948 with a First Rank in history.
From 1944–49, he worked as a teacher in St. Thomas College, Thrissur and subsequently joined the University College, Thiruvananthapuram in 1949 as a member of the teaching staff in the departments of History and Politics. In 1953 he was granted the Smith Mundt Scholarship and the Fulbright Travel Grant by the US Educational Foundation in India for higher studies at Harvard University where he obtained his Master's Degree in Political science, specialising in International Relations.
On his return to India, he was appointed by the Government of Kerala as the State Editor of Kerala Gazetteers in 1958. During the next ten years, Menon compiled eight volumes of Gazetteers (out of nine districts of Kerala) – Thiruvananthapuram (1961), Thrissur (1961), Kozhikode (1962), Kollam (1964), Ernakulam (1965), Alappuzha (1968), Kannur (1972), Kottayam (1975). The speed with which the work was done and the quality of the contents of the gazetteers won praise from all quarters including the Central Gazetteers Unit, Government of India.
From 1968–1977, Menon functioned as the Registrar of Kerala University. He worked as a visiting professor in the Department of History, University of Calicut under the UGC scheme from 1977–78. From 1979–81 he served as a professor in the Institute of Public Administration (now the Institute of Management) under the Government of Kerala.
Menon was a member of several academic bodies like the Senate, Academic Council, Board of Studies, Board of Examiners etc. in universities in South India. Among the endowment lectures he delivered, the most important was the Bhaktavatsalam Endowment Lectures on National Integration and Chitti Babu Thiruvizha Endowment Lectures in Madras University. In 2000 he was elected the President of Vishakappattanam South Indian History Congress. He has served as President of Senior Citizens Association of Thiruvananthapuram for three years and President of Trivandrum District Unit of Kerala State Consumer Protection Council for a few years.
Sreedhara Menon stayed away from ideological leanings towards any organisation or political party. He refused to write a history of the freedom struggle for the Indian National Congress because he "did not want to be known as a historian of the Congress." The leftist E. K. Nayanar Government also requested him in 1997 to document the freedom struggle but later refused to publish it due to differences with his stance on the Punnapra-Vayalar uprising. He remarked on the issue, "It is not an objective historian's job to collect facts to suit theories. A true historian is a judge and not a lawyer... politicians can act only as lawyers." His book on the history of the University of Kerala was also ignored by the University till Vice-Chancellor Dr.B.Ekbal decided to publish it.
- 1990: INDIS award from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies, Thiruvananthapuram
- 1999: Senior Fellowship ICHR
- 2000: National Fellowship ICHR
- 2007: P Thomas Foundation Award for outstanding work in Kerala History
- 2009: Padma Bhushan for Literature and Education
Selected list of works
- A Survey of Kerala History
- The Legacy of Kerala
- Cultural Heritage of Kerala
- A Political History of Kerala
- Social and Cultural History of Kerala
- Kerala History and its Makers
- A Concise History of Modern Kerala (1885–1957)
- Modern India – A History Since 1707
- Kerala Charithram and Samskaram
- Kerala Charithra Shilpikal
- Triumph and Tragedy in Travancore: Annals of Sir CPs Sixteen Years
- Padma Bhushan Prof Alappat Sreedhara Menon, Literature & Education (Kerala)
- The University Herald, Kerala University, Vol No.1 Issue No.4 Pg 11, "KU publishes its History"
- Prominent Keralites honoured with Padma awards
- B. Sobnahan, "Prof. A Sreedhara Menon, Profile of a Historian", in A Panorama of Indian culture – Professor A. Sreedhara Menon Felicitation Volume, K. K. Kusuman, pp 1–4.
- Kerala council for Historical Research – Catalogue of Publications – District Gazetteers- authentic account of Geography, History, Culture and Resources
- Indian Express: Thiruvananthapuram "Truth is sacrosanct", Tiki Rajwi, 18 December 2009
- Marxist theories do not make history: Kerala historian
- History of the publication of the "History of the University of Kerala", Pleasant memories of my "Gurupranamam", Dr. B. Ekbal (Former Vice Chancellor, University of Kerala)
- Historian A Sreedhara Menon dies