K. N. Panikkar
|Dr. K. N. Panikkar|
|Occupation||Historian, Teacher, Writer|
Dr. Panikkar was Professor of Modern Indian History at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Prior to joining JNU, he taught at University of Delhi. In 2001, he was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kerala. He was the first Vice-Chairman of the Kerala State Higher Education Council. Currently he serves as the Chairman of the Kerala Council for Historical Research and the General President of the Indian History Congress.He was appointed as the Chairman of the Planning Commission's Subcommittee on Strategic Funding for State Higher Education System in August 2011.He is also a member of the Planning Commission's Steering Committee on Higher and Technical Education.
K.N. Panikkar has written and edited a number of books, including A Concerned Indian’s Guide to Communalism and the ICHR volume on Towards Freedom, 1940: A Documentary History of the Freedom Struggle (suppressed and withdrawn from press by the former Bharatiya Janata Party-led regime, now forthcoming). He is engaged in preparing a monograph on the intellectual history of colonial India for which he has been awarded a Bhabha Senior Fellowship.
His methods and his expressed positions in public life have evoked harsh criticism from exponents of Hindu nationalism, particularly during the period of Bharatiya Janata Party government of 1998 to 2004.
Panikkar has been active in criticising the rise of "Nationalist" history in India. His books include Against Lord and State: Religion and Peasant Uprisings in Malabar; Culture and Consciousness in Modern India; Culture, Ideology and Hegemony – Intellectuals and Social Consciousness in Colonial India, and Before the Night Falls.
K.N. Panikkar is a staunch campaigner for minority rights. He is mostly known for his work on intellectual and cultural history of colonial India. He has consistently taken progressive positions concerning issues of national importance like secularism, democracy and human rights. Panikkar's contribution to the writing on modern Indian history has considerably enriched the secular tradition of Indian historiography. During the last two decades, he has been engaged in a relentless campaign in defense of these values which are foundational to the principles of Indian society.
Panikkar was born at Guruvayoor in Thrissur, Kerala.He graduated from Government Victoria College, Palakkad in the mid 1950s. The College was then affiliated to Madras University. It was there that he was attracted to the analysis of exploitation and a vision of a humane society put forward by Marxism. During his undergraduate student days, he worked as the Vice-President, Malabar District Committee of the Student Federation—student wing of the undivided Communist Party of India. He was also elected as the Chairman of Victoria College Students’ Union during the same period. The ideas and patronage which he received from his relative and a prominent Communist Party leader Shri.K.P.Madhava Menon played a key role in shaping young Panikkar's ideas. After graduation, he proceeded to University of Rajasthan for higher studies, from where he obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. Degrees.
After a brief stint at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), associating with the project to prepare a source book on Modern Indian History, he taught at Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru Universities.He has been the Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Chair, Centre for Historical Studies and the Archives on Contemporary History, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He was a Visiting Professor at El Colegio De Mexico, Maison de sciences l'homme, Paris, Scholar in Residence at Rockfeller Study and Research Centre, Bellagio, Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Modern Oriental Studies, Berlin, Visiting Fellow of British Council at London, Senior Fellow of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, and Senior Homi Bhabha Fellow.
Over his career he has been a member of several professional bodies like University Grants Commission (UGC), Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR), Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR), Indian Council for World Affairs, National Book Trust of India (NBT), President of Modern History section of the Indian History Congress in 1975, etc.
He holds visiting professorships in many universities around the world. Being an internationally acclaimed scholar, Panikkar has visited and lectured in many countries. In the last International Congress of Historians at Sydney, Australia, he was invited to speak in its inaugural session.
As a historian, he is known for his pioneering work on cultural and intellectual history. As a teacher he always upheld positive student-teacher pedagogical relationship as an important element for improving classroom atmosphere. He considers it as the most important skill a teacher should possess.As the Vice-Chairman of the Kerala State Higher Education Council, he initiated major structural reforms in the State’s higher education system during 2007-11 period.
As an activist
Panikkar's interventions in public issues have earned him the reputation of an intellectual who is committed to the defense of human rights, secularism and democracy.Particularly important are the initiatives he had taken in the case of the dispute over Babri Masjid and the communal situation in Gujarat(3). In 2003 he along with Shabnam Hashmi and Harsh Mander has founded ANHAD (Act Now For Harmony and Democracy) to counter communalism in India. Naturally, he has been a speck in the eyes of right-wing forces in India, particularly the Sangh Parivar. He attracted strong opposition from them because he always stood against their politics of mixing mythology and beliefs with historical facts. He has written many books and articles on the dangers of communalism. His writings have been a major intellectual source in the campaign against communalism.
Currently he is engaged in preparing a monograph on the intellectual history of colonial India for which he has been awarded Homi Bhabha Senior Fellowship. Recently the Kerala Government appointed him as the Chairman of an Expert Committee that looked into the complaints raised from various quarters about the new textbooks introduced in the State-supported schools.The committee submitted its report on 17 October 2008(7) and now it is available online.
Partial publication list
Panikkar has several publications to his credit; fifteen books in English and a dozen in Malayalam, apart from innumerable articles in research and popular journals in both English and Malayalam. His documentary history of national movement, entitled, Towards Freedom, which was withdrawn from publication by the BJP government has been published this year by Oxford University Press. Some of his well-known books are:
- Against Lord and State: Religion and Peasant Uprisings in Malabar, 1836-1921 (1990)
- British Diplomacy in North India: A Study of the Delhi Residency, 1803-1857 (1968)
- Culture, Ideology, Hegemony: Intellectuals and Social Consciousness in Colonial India (1990)
- Culture, Ideology and Hegemony (1996)
- Communal Threat, Secular Challenge (1997)
- Before the Night Falls: Forebodings of Fascism in India (2002)
- An Agenda for Cultural Action and Other Essays (2002)
- Colonialism, Culture, and Resistance (2007)
- Towards Freedom: A Documentary History of the Freedom Struggle (2009)
His edited books:
- Political History of India (1970)
- National and Left Movements in India (1980)
- Peasant Protest and Revolts in Malabar-A Source Volume (1990)
- Communalism in India: History, Politics, and Culture (1992)
- A Concerned Indian's Guide to Communalism (1999)
- Making of History (with Terry Byres and Utsa Utsa Patnaik, 1990)
- Communalism, Civil Society and the State (with Sukumar Muralidharan, 2002)
- The Making of History: Essays Presented to Irfan Habib
- India's Struggle for Independence (with Bipan Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee and Sucheta Mahajan)
Some of the above works have been translated into several Indian languages.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to K. N. Panikkar.|
- "Link technology with social sciences, says K.N. Panikkar". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 21 February 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
- "Rewrite history from Indian point of view: K.N. Panikkar". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 6 May 2009. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
- "Newspapers evading sensitive issues, says K.N. Panikkar". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 29 November 2005. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
- "Culture emerges as site of struggle: K.N. Panikkar". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 29 December 2008.
- "The Origin , Structure, Constitution of Governing Board of Anhad". ANHAD. 25 September 2007.