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Top US history panel objects to JNU decision to 'review' Romila Thapar's status

By Our Representative
The prestigious American Historical Association (AHA) has taken strong exception to the Jahawarlal Nehru University (JNU) seeking Prof Romila Thapar’s curriculum vitae (CV) in order to “review” her status as professor emeritus. John R. McNeill, president, AHA, has written to JNU vice chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar and said it is meant to “discourage" the university's review of Romila Thapar's status as emeritus professor.
Calling Thapar’s recorded her “impressive record of contributions and achievements, including being named an AHA honorary foreign member” and expressing “deep concern” over JNU decision, the letter says, she is “a distinguished scholar, deeply respected by historians on many continents.” She adds, “Considering her extraordinary record of scholarly achievement, the Association believes that there is no need to review her richly deserved position as emeritus professor.”
Pointing out that AHA is “the largest association of professional historians in the world, with over 12,000 members”, McNeill said, “In 2009 the AHA named Professor Thapar an honorary foreign member – one of the highest honors the Association bestows – in recognition of her standing as one of India’s most distinguished historians.” The letter calls Thapar's work as “the bedrock of all scholarly study of the early South Asian past.”
A month ago, Thapar refused to submit her CV to the JNU administration, which wanted to “review” her position as professor emeritus. “No, I don’t intend to send them my CV. They have contradicted themselves in the letter they sent to me. When the status was originally conferred, it was stated that this was a lifetime honour”, she said in her reply.
On July 12, JNU registrar Pramod Kumar wrote to Thapar asking her to provide her latest CV by August 16 so that a committee appointed by the University’s Academic Council could “assess [her] work and decide on [her] continuation as professor emeritus.” A similar letter was sent to 11 other professors emeritus, all of them distinguished scholars in their respective fields.
Thapar, 87, has been awarded the Kluge Prize, known as the American Nobel, holds honorary doctorates from half a dozen of the world’s top universities, and is the author of a slew of books on ancient India which have been required reading for generations of students.

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