Has India produced enough historians who studied foreign history? If not why?

Nov 2012
3,851
#1
What I mean is a kind of reverse Orientalism considering the disproportionate presence of westerners with their lense on Indian history and Indology. Has India produced many history intellectuals and researchers in the history of the world outside India? (Like Indian historian who is an expert in Greek, Arab history etc.). Are these just also rans in their fields or are they in the upper echelons in their respective fields of historiography?

If so who are some of the prominent ones and why has India not produced enough historians who are experts in other country's culture and history similar to the west?
 
Oct 2015
1,059
India
#3
Even the history of India in the modern sense was reconstructed by the Europeans and they were the first to write comprehensive history of India. So Indian historians have not as yet fully revised the colonial narrative of Indian history.

So Warrior, Indian historians writing foreign history is a futuristic battlefield.

Even re-writing of Indian history in a more balanced way will give us the true picture of imperialism (part of world history), perhaps a realization that thought-processes in western civilization have led to wars (Wars from Napoleon till WW-2 in world history), and that contemporary era could be even be called economic-colonialism or neo-imperialism.

As regards Songtsen's observation above, I tend to agree. Still some bright people do reach social science field. Above all, now the corpus on Indian research on Indian history is amassing very fast. Go have a look at Shodhganga : a reservoir of Indian theses @ INFLIBNET

regards

Rajeev

Songtsen: How do we pronounce your name? Is "t" silent or "s"?
 

civfanatic

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
3,311
Des Moines, Iowa
#4
No, Indian historians have not produced many historians who have studied foreign history in-depth and become experts in that field. One of the major reasons for this is the issue of language. Becoming a recognized expert in any field of history requires proficiency in the relevant languages of the field. For example, any historian who aspires to be an expert on Medieval European History absolutely must be fluent in Latin, as well as at least one regional language like Middle English or Occitan, depending on the area of the historian's focus. In India, institutions for teaching Classical Western languages like Latin and Greek, not to mention specialized medieval European languages, are very lacking. While many American historians like Cynthia Talbot and the late Burton Stein have mastered languages like Telugu, Tamil, and Sanskrit, and published detailed historical works using sources written in those languages, how many Indian scholars have mastered Old High German, Mozarabic, or even Koine Greek? You can probably count them on your fingers.
 
#5
What I mean is a kind of reverse Orientalism considering the disproportionate presence of westerners with their lense on Indian history and Indology. Has India produced many history intellectuals and researchers in the history of the world outside India? (Like Indian historian who is an expert in Greek, Arab history etc.). Are these just also rans in their fields or are they in the upper echelons in their respective fields of historiography?

If so who are some of the prominent ones and why has India not produced enough historians who are experts in other country's culture and history similar to the west?
Most countries don't particularly care about the history of other cultures. Even in the West, historians specialising on African, Indian and East Asian countries who don't have non-European ancestry are not hugely common. I think it mainly comes down to wealth: wealthy countries have good education systems and good social welfare, so nobody is going to starve if they don't pursue a strictly vocational career path, and there is a lot of choice for individuals to follow their dream rather than just do the job their parents do. And by the same token, governments of wealthy countries have a lot of money, so they can allocate it to humanities departments and 'prestige projects' rather than practical things like tech, science and agriculture.

So if someone in the UK has an interest in Indian history and they are well educated, they have the real option of becoming a professional historian. However there simply aren't enough well-paid jobs in Indian universities for historians for it to be a viable career option for more than a handful of people.

Also, India even compared to other developing countries has a very 'quantitative' outlook. I think this is partly cultural: India was always very fixated on the mathematical and logical sciences: after all it was India which invented the decimal system with notation based on zero, and also pioneered the science of linguistics. That being said, there were quite a few people of Asian origin (including myself) on my university course (Roman and Ancient Greek history), maybe one day they will become experts.
 
Sep 2016
350
India
#6
As an Indian, I can tell you that being a historian itself is frowned upon. Smart kids are supposed to be engineers or doctors, though that trend is changing...
Also, why would we need historians who specialize in foreign history when there are plenty of them and India itself is in desperate need of knowing its own history :lol:
 
Nov 2012
3,851
#7
As an Indian, I can tell you that being a historian itself is frowned upon. Smart kids are supposed to be engineers or doctors, though that trend is changing...
Also, why would we need historians who specialize in foreign history when there are plenty of them and India itself is in desperate need of knowing its own history :lol:
that you laugh makes me feel bad. Indian view about the world is as important as Orientalist views of India. No country can project its softpowers without having a world view and being insular.
 
Oct 2015
1,059
India
#8
Dear All,

There was at least one and we missed him: Jawahar Lal Nehru. He is an Indian and wrote "Glimpses of World History". It seems to be a very good introduction to world history:

The New York Times described it as: "... one of the most remarkable books ever written.... Nehru makes even H.G. Wells seem singularly insular..... One is awed by the breadth of Nehru's culture."[1] Among other things, it was one of the first to take a view different from "euro-centrist" history. It was one of the first to emphasize the military greatness of Mongols over Alexander & Caesar.

Even today, though written in 1930-33, it is still a well rated book. In fact there are very few books on world history rated so high:

Rated 4.21 out of 5.00 by 1228 people on goodreads.com [2]
Rated 4.90 out of 5.00 by 18 people on amazon.com, 2004 Penguin edition [3]
Rated 4.70 out of 5.00 by 6 people of amazon.com, 1985 Oxford Edition [4]
Nehru did not do original research in history because he was a leader of people, freedom fighter, a politician. He lived in dramatic times and firsthand witnessed the majesty of imperialist powers, colonial exploitation (in India), Russian Revolutions, two world wars, and so on. He has taken broad and unique perspectives in the book, which perhaps specialized historians are not so good at.

Regards

Rajeev

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glimpses_of_World_History

[2] Glimpses of World History by Jawaharlal Nehru ? Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists

[3] https://www.amazon.com/Glimpses-Wor...235&sr=1-1&keywords=glimpses+of+world+history

[4] https://www.amazon.com/Glimpses-Wor...298&sr=1-2&keywords=glimpses+of+world+history
 
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SSDD

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
3,900
India
#9
No. The reason is except Indian history, Indian universities hardly teach history of foreign countries. It should be changed.
 
Nov 2012
3,851
#10
I dont agree with language theories though it could be partially true. To be a historical expert on a country its an asset to know the said country's language but not a necessity. How much Sanskrit or Prakrit does the champion of Indian history Romila Thapar know? Has that stopped her or Upinder Singh in anyway to be experts in their domain?