New Delhi: Renowned historian Romila Thapar on Wednesday called for inclusion of "institutional history" in the curriculum of the subject taught at varsities across the country.
"We always tend to treat history teaching at a national level which is in a way legitimate, I wish, however, there is little more emphasis on teaching of local history. How many of our the universities have a paper on history of institutions in its curriculum and even JNU is a defaulter in this," Thapar, who is the Professor Emerita at Jawaharlal Nehru University said.
"Universities should have in their curriculum a paper on the history of institutions where you send students out to actually collect the kind of documents which might give an insight into the history of the world "around" us," she added.
While addressing a gathering of students at Delhi University's IP College for Women, Thapar also said that the majority libraries in the country are in appalling conditions and often leave the researchers disappointed.
"Researchers often have a complaint that as a society we seem never to be terribly interested in libraries and archives."
"With a very few exceptions the country has libraries that are in most appalling conditions. The books are badly kept, are readily not available..Even some of the libraries in Delhi which have good collections, function in a way which is very disheartening for researchers," she said.
"We have to give a lot of thought to it and should give much attention to the institutions constituting libraries generally, the accessibility of books and the archival material," she added.
Thapar said students should shed the popular notion of history being a "boring" subject as it is not something which is to be mugged up but understood.
"I constantly find myself with students who say the subject is boring as they have to remember so many dates and events. We need to know that it is really not the essence of history. It is understanding the history."
"But the challenge is how to understand...We can't get away from it..How much do we may try distort the past we can't get away with the fact that the present today grows out of yesterday. And if do not know what happened how, when and why, we cannot understand what is happening today," she said.
Thapar was here at the inauguration of a "Museum and Archives Learning Resource Centre" at IP college which has archives including rare images and documents dating back to 1924 when the college was established.