Shourie, IE and Guha

Ramachandra Guha (historian) wrote the following about Arun Shourie in The Hindu 2001. (Before that it is important to know that, First, Guha is  a caste-hindu, same as Shourie which he stressed in the same article and Second, Dalit activists had threatened to blacken Shourie’s face )

He brings to his job the lack of scruple, the narrow-mindedness, the disregard of truth, and the intense hatred with which Stalinism has imbued him. He remains sectarian. He is an inverted Stalinist. He continues to see the world in black and white, but now the colours are differently distributed … The ex- communist … is haunted by a vague sense that he has betrayed either his former ideals or the ideals of bourgeois society … He then tries to suppress the guilt and uncertainty, or to camouflage it by a show of extraordinary certitude and frantic aggressiveness. He insists that the world should recognise his uneasy conscience as the clearest conscience of all. He may no longer be concerned with any cause except one – self- justification.

The same article was published in Indian Express. But without the above paragraph. Arun shourie is  a former  editor of Indian Express and a regular contributor. In fact, many paragraphs and sentences which were critical of Arun Shouri and his book on Dr. Ambedkar were dropped, for example,

In his book, Worshipping False Gods, Arun Shourie has made much of this. Shourie takes all of 600 pages to make two points: (i) that Ambedkar was a political opponent of both Gandhi and the Congress, and generally preferred the British to either; (ii) that Ambedkar cannot be called the “Father of the Constitution” as that implies sole authorship, whereas several other people, such as K. M. Munshi and B. N. Rau, also contributed significantly to the wording of the document. Reading Worshipping False Gods, one might likewise conclude that it has been mistakenly advertised as being the work of one hand. Entire chapters are based entirely on one or other volume of the Transfer of Power, the collection of official papers put out some years ago by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. The editor of that series, Nicholas Mansergh, might with reason claim co-authorship of Shourie’s book. In a just world he would be granted a share of the royalties too.

and a very important one,

Shourie’s attacks on Dalits and their hero follow in quick succession the books he has published attacking Communists, Christians and Muslims. Truth be told, the only category of Indians he has not attacked – and going by his present political persuasion will not attack – are high-caste Hindus. Oddly enough, this bilious polemicist and baiter of the minorities was once an anti-religious leftist who excoriated Hinduism. To see Shourie’s career in its totality is to recall these words of Issac Deutscher, on the communist turned anti-communist.

Interestingly Guha published his column in Indian Express in 1997, the same year Arun Shouri’s Worshipping False Gods was published. The Hindu published the same article, but the longer version, in 2001, which incidentally I read first and think is the original. It seems Indian Express eviscerated all the paragraphs/sentences which were unhealthy for Shouri or his book. of the following quoted section, the second sentence is missing in Indian Express version.

He even insinuates that Ambedkar “pushed Gandhi to the edge of death” by not interfering with the Mahatma’s decision to fast in captivity. Of the same fast other historians have written, in my view more plausibly, that by threatening to die Gandhi blackmailed Ambedkar into signing a pact with him.

So Indian Express readers, if you thought u were better than TOI/Mumbai Mirror readers, think again. Or may be gather more evidence. By the way, have you noticed Pratap Bhanu Mehta has a regular op-ed column in Indian Express these days? I think he started just after he published his resignation letter from the National Knowledge Commission.


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