Report of the Secretary

Honourable President Professor Aditya Mukherjee, Outgoing President Professor Kesavan Veluthat, Vice Presidents, Professor Amiya Kumar Bagchi and Professor Shireen Moosvi, Members of the Executive Committee and the esteemed General Body of the IHC.

I feel honoured to have been chosen by the EC and endorsed by the General Body during the previous session of the Indian History Congress held at Madras Christian College, Chennai, for the post of the Secretary, and that today I am going to present a report of the activities of this illustrious institution since April 2022 when I assumed the charge.

I would first of all like to thank my guru, Professor Irfan Habib, who had nurtured me in my academic career and sounded my name to be considered for this post. I would also like to thank my other mentors, especially Professor Shireen Moosvi, Professor Kesavan Veluthat and my predecessor in the post, Professor R. Mahalakshmi.

I would like to record my thanks to Professor Mahalakshmi from whom I took formal charge in the last few days of March, although she had started handing me over certain related papers in January itself.

The previous 81st Session of the IHC held at Madras Christian College, Chennai had been organised after a gap of three long years. After 2019 at Kannur there had been a break due to the Covid pandemic, with only a brief online session in 2020. The Chennai session was a great success with 1002 papers spread over six sections, apart from five panels

As all of you are aware, the Indian History Congress has been passing through a very difficult phase. Since 2015-16 our funding have been gradually drying up. The last funds which we received from ICHR, an organization, which like IHC, is on paper dedicated to further the cause of History and research in India, were in 2016. The then Secretaries submitted all our IHC accounts for the grants received to the funding agency. But in spite of that, the ICHR, for reasons best known to itself, have refused to fund us since then. Months after I took charge, a legal notice was sent to us by the former member Secretary Dr Umesh Kadam through a lawyer, that we had to return the grants given to us by the ICHR for the 74th, 75th and 77th sessions, in spite of the fact that we had duly submitted our accounts of those sessions. For these years, after issuing the advance of each year, the withheld amounts were also released by the ICHR. These withheld amounts are released only after due accounts are submitted and settled. We also have the accounts of those sessions duly audited and these audit reports too are on ICHR files. In spite of all this a legal notice was served on us, and as per this notice, we were asked to submit a total of Rs 10 lakhs inclusive of interest “penalty” within a matter of 10 days. I and the Treasurer, Professor S. Jabir Raza emt the Chairman ICHR, who after hearing our perspective was kind enough to understand our argument and assured us that the charges will be dropped. In spite of this, the ICHR has yet to respond to our application of funds which IHC sought from it for this session. I hope that better sense will prevail and the ICHR will respond with granting us funds which we are seeking.

At this point I would like to thank our Incharge Publications, Professor Shireen Moosvi, due to whose unrelenting endeavours, the Proceeding of the Indian History Congress were made available on the JSTOR from the period when Professor Ishrat Alam was the Secretary. The royalties which we get from this digital gateway have sustained us, though I must say, the royalty due to us for this session unfortunately has still not reached us. As per the claims of JSTOR, a cheque was issued to Secretary IHC in September and dispatched on the address of the former Secretary, but the cheque was perhaps lost in transit, as she seems not to have received it. JSTOR assures that a new cheque will be sent soon.

The only other source on which we are depending is the membership fees and the interest on deposits over the past few years. This year Dr Annapoorna Chattopadhyay donated us Rs 5 lakhs which we have deposited. As per her wish, the interest on this will be used to give an award instituted in her name to a book written on Ancient India with a regional perspective. I am happy to report that the first such award has been bestowed this year.

A further issue which I would like to report is that in May 2023 the Income Taz Department sent us a penalty of Rupees two lakhs twelve thousand one hundred and twenty-eight which was for the financial year 2021-22. We paid that on 19 May 2023 through our Auditors.

Coming to some positive happenings, we were lucky to get a firm offer in early February itself from the Honourable Vice Chancellor of Kakatiya University, Professor Thatikonda Ramesh, to hold our 2023 session in his University. I am beholden to the Vice Chancellor, and Professor Thallapally Manohar, our Local Secretary, and other members of the Kakatiya University for giving us a chance to assemble here.

I am happy to report that during the period April 2022 to early December 463 new members, 14 Life Members and 602 renewals have been made. This year a total of around 1037 papers were presented in the six Sections of the Congress. We were also able to hold two panels, one on Reconstructing Indian Economic History (Aligarh Historians Society) and another of Deccan Past and Present (University of Hyderabad). The IHC Symposium on Reason and Ideology and the SC Mishra Memorial Lecture, Professor KM Shrimali agreed to deliver a special lecture on Sanatan Dharm.

I feel satisfied to report that this year we gave all the rewards and prizes which have been instituted by various of our honourable past and present members. Unfortunately, we had been missing out on some of them in the past few years.

In the past few months, I have been in talks with certain officials of Primus Books who have agreed not only to store our leftover back issues of the Proceedings in their godown, but also sell those old volumes at a nominal mutually agreed price. We propose to enter into an agreement with them: as per our proposal, the income from this sale will be shared between the IHC and Primus in the ratio of 70:30. I hope you will agree that in these times of economic crisis, and drying resources, we will have to generate our own alternative sources of income.

As a step in this direction, I hope that you endorse and approve the following:

    1. Bring out special thematic volumes based on the papers contributed in the past and published in our back volumes and make them available to the people at a reasonable price. These volumes could be of past research papers arranged thematically, or they may also be thematic selections from past presidential addresses which need to be made available to our new readers.

    1. The Symposium Lectures, special lectures (including SC Mishra Memorial lectures, which are already being sold). These could be published and sold at a reasonable price.

I am already in talks with certain publishers, and if I get your endorsement, we may try to once again become financially independent.

The task of editing and publishing our Proceedings is a massive task, which since more than a decade has been the burden of two individual scholars: Professor Irfan Habib, who always volunteers to take up this responsibility; and Professor Shireen Moosvi, Incharge Publications. It is their endeavour which annually results in the timely publication of our Proceedings. I join you in requesting them to continue their good work.

However, I am suggesting one change in the procedure. I propose that as soon as the office of the Secretary receives the digital copy of the paper before the Congress, the paper may immediately be shared and forwarded with the designated Sectional President, who will then be able to go through it much before its actual presentation at the session. This will help him / her make an informed decision as to whether the said paper is simply to be listed, revised or printed as such. The Sectional President should also be given a period of 2-3 months (say till March), to go through all the submitted papers in his Section. He may be then better placed to advice changes, re-writings or corrections. After his evaluation, the select papers can then be sent to the Incharge Publications, who with her / his team of editors can then make a final selection. It is only then that the matter is placed before the Chief Editor to organize the volume for publication.

Perhaps this exercise will not only lessen the burden of the Incharge Publications, but will also help in improving the quality of the volume. This will mean that PIHC becomes a real peer reviewed journal which its is supposed to be. Another problem too will be solved by this approach: the scholars who presented their paper and wait in the dark the entire year, will then be aware of the status of their paper.

One final suggestion which I want to make is that our members should be discouraged to submit more than one paper per section. The practice of appending the name of the supervisors in the research paper of their research students must be discouraged.

In the end, it is my duty to thank all who helped me function in the last one year. My utmost thanks are foremost due to Professor Irfan Habib, who in spite of his advanced age kept on coming to the Department to select, edit and shape the volume which is in your hands. I am equally thankful to Professor Shireen Moosvi, Incharge Publications, and presently one of the Vice President, for all her labour. Though she was initially reluctant to continue – she even sent me a series of emails requesting me to relieve her due to her health issues, but ultimately, on our insistence, she relented and agreed to carry on the work of editing to the best of her ability. I thank her from the bottom of my heart. I also thank her office staff, specially Mr Saif Ali Khan ‘Sonu’, who carried out all the work of re-typing, typing and composing. To Mr Ajay of Aligarh Litho Printers thanks are due for timely printing (some addresses on real short notice) and delivering them on time to Warangal for distribution.

Primus Books, like previous years, gave us sponsorship in the form of a grant of Rs. 10,000’- and also contributing an advertisement to sponsor our Proceedings. Professor Raj Shekhar Basu and Professor Arun Bandopadhyay feeling our desperate needs arranged a few advertisements. The Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA) opened its offices for the IHC whenever we had a need for them.

My young team members (all research scholars, and only one registered under my supervision) Sidhant, Asra Alavi, Anait Khan, Zainab Naqvi, and Sahrish Hilal let their research work suffer (and their respective supervisors fume) to look after the Secretary’s Office. All work of renewals, initial memberships etc was very efficiently and patiently looked after by them. Sidhant and Anait also looked after our Bank accounts and transactions. All these youngsters need special thanks. Dr Salim Zaweed (Assistant Professor, Presidency University, Kolkata) and Dr Enayatullah Khan (Assistant Professor, Aliah University) remained available along with their students to make this session a success. And how can I forget my friend, the Treasurer Professor Syed Jabir Raza who was a constant support. Professor Manvendra K Pundhir, our Joint Secretary Permanent Office, deserves my thanks and gratitude. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart. I also thank Professor T. Manohar, our Local Secretary, and Professor S. Srinath for everything they did for us at Warangal.

I thank the General Body for all your support and encouragement. Hope you will overlook my failings and forgive me for all the faults and inconvenience suffered at my hands.

                                                                                           Professor Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi

                                                                                          Secretary, Indian History Congress

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