March 31, 2007


    Mehra offers a full 'Bibliographical Survey', 60 pages of review by himself of works that deal with his subject. There is an unhappy instance in this section where Mehra lapses beneath accepted academic standards with the fabrication of two passages from a book of which he disapproves, claiming that, "picked up at random, [the quoted passages] sum up the major thrust of its argument" (pp 277-78). No page references are given, so only the author of the book thus misrepresented will be able to recognise that the passages "quoted" are in fact crude concoctions. The reviewer happens to be that author.
Neville Maxwell, reviewing Essays in Frontier History: India, China, and the Disputed Border by Parshotam Mehta (Oxford University Press, 2007). The review appears in EPW, March 24-30, 2007.


km said...

Someone make this guy the Editor-in-Chief for Wikipedia!

Anonymous said...

which guy?

Anonymous said...

Without making any judgment on either Neville Maxwell or Parshotam Mehra, a google search reveals that these two guys have a history of their own dating back to at least 1974.

It is a pity that the India-China war of 1962, as with most other post-independence events (Emergency, the Sikh riots, the persistent Hindu-Muslim riots, India-Pakistan relations etc.), remain outside the school/college curriculum and we Indians are left to form our own judgments on such crucial matters. I think this neglect has an important negative effect on our polity. It also shows our immaturity as a democracy.

For the record, I tend to side with Neville Maxwell, notwithstanding what appears to be his anti-Indian bias. (I am not talking about his position on the war.) His central thesis - that the war was India's fault - even though modified by American scholars like Steven Hoffman has never been convincingly rebutted. And certainly, scholars like Parshotam Mehra by their sloppy work only strengthen Maxwell's case!

Anonymous said...

Oops, sorry I should have said "anti-Sikh riots in the above comment.

And I forgot to sign myself,


Dilip D'Souza said...

Suresh, related to what you say is something else I've always wondered about: am I missing something or are there no real objective, critical examinations of our wars by Indians themselves?

Anonymous said...


I think there have been but they have been mostly individual efforts and tend to get is also, I think, difficult for an Indian (based in Indian universities) to get access to National archives on such sensitive issues which are crucial for such work. (If you are a gora - forgive the racial phrasing - you might have better luck.) Our policy on declassifying documents still bears the imperial imprint and is long due for overhaul. We now have the absurd scenario where the internal US deliberations during the 1971 war have been declassified but no information is forthcoming from the Indian side. The Henderson-Brookes report on the 1962 war is still classified, though, the contents are an open secret since Henderson-Brookes migrated to Australia and anyone could speak to him...

Finally, our college system does not seem to encourage courses in post-independence history. This is unlike the US where universities are known to offer courses in subjects like the Vietnam War. There are no significant historians of post-independence India - it is now 60 years after independence - that I can name who are based in Indian universities.