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Tuesday 28 January 2020

An Academic With Agenda Is Politician In Disguise

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter Smriti Irani’s reference to Sarmila Bose during a recent debate in Parliament, Bose replied in an article that the Human Resource Development Minister had misrepresented her views.

Sarmila Bose, whose brother Sugata Bose is an MP of the Trinamool Congress, is a senior research associate at the Centre for International Studies, Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. Her book Dead Reckoning has been at the centre of serious controversy for allegedly distorting and downplayed the story of Pakistan Army’s vicious aggression and war crimes during the Bangladesh War in 1971.

She has been accused by her critics of betraying an exceptional bias wherein she considers Bangladeshi accounts of the war as “claims” and versions by Pakistan Army officers as “straightforward”. Her book also claims that there were only 34,000 Pakistani soldiers at the end of the war, while available records mentioned in Hussain Haqqani’s Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military and Samuel Martin Burke’s Mainsprings of Indian and Pakistani Foreign Policies suggests unequivocally that the number of Pakistani soldiers that surrendered to the Indian army on December 1971 was between 90,000 to 93,000. Historian Jayanta Roy agrees:

Records indicate that just over 93,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered to the Indian army in December 1971. They were all handed back to Pakistan. That’s thrice the number Bose suggests, so is she fudging figures deliberately to prove that the number of rapes were much lower than suggested?

Further, Bose’s claim that “India was the only aggressor in 1971” is an extremely fictitious and unreal account of how the events had unfolded. Her arguments in 2 previous articles published in Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) on the same topic have also been lampooned by critics as clear examples of her pro-Pakistani bias.

Apart from the ‘alternative readings’ of the Bangladeshi Liberation War, she also holds the rare privilege of having co-authored pieces with former US ambassador to Pakistan William Miam, advocating the US sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan while championing Pervez Musharraf’s “enlightened moderation”, never mind the former general’s Kargil misadventure. Of course, it must be some coincidence that an academic who pushes for greater US contribution to Pakistani military procurement also goes to great lengths to whitewash and downplay the genocide committed by the Pakistan Army. She pontificates that democracy must accommodate “different perspectives”, referring to the recent events in Jawaharlal Nehru University. This advice could have been considered serious had Sarmila Bose expended a fraction of the effort into exposing abuses of democracy and fundamental rights of religious minorities in Pakistan that she expends in lobbying for the Pakistani military establishment.

In conclusion, it would not be far-fetched to state categorically that Bose’s views on democracy and freedom of expression are bunkum. An academic with an agenda is a politician in disguise.

Rajarshi Nandy
Rajarshi Nandy
He is a practising spiritualist, eternal pilgrim and, by profession, a technical writer. He does not belong or subscribe to a particular sect of Hinduism; he is open to the idea of exploring all of them. He volunteered to be our news editor; this is an honorary posting. He not only decides on the right reports from agencies but also contributes to the presentation of news items.

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