09 March, 2021

Indian Historians Are Not Lazy

The noted historian isn't worrying about William Dalrymple's charges

Indian Historians Are Not Lazy

In responding to William Dalrymple's criticisms of Indian historians for their apparent lethargy and obscurantism, one needn't feel overly indignant. It's always good to have one's weaknesses pointed out. The difficulties in dealing with documents in Persian and Urdu, especially when written in cursive hand, are always to be kept in mind. It is generally expected that a historian, whether British or Indian, or any other, must combine the work of decipherment, transcription and comprehension with his own work. In serious historiography none of these tasks can be farmed out.

There may be found in Persian/Urdu written in the cursive hand (Shikasta) four possible variants, and one has to know by context what word represents the form at a particular place. If one wants to write a history of the French Revolution, one not only needs to know French but should also be able to read cursively written documents in the French of the time. Unfortunately, there are very few people left who can read...

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