November 03, 2015

India: Now, historian Shekhar Pathak to return his Padma Shri Award in protest against the atmosphere of intolerance in the country

The Times of India

Now, historian Shekhar Pathak to return his Padma Shri
Vineet Upadhyay,TNN | Nov 2, 2015, 10.02 PM IST

Shekhar Pathak at the Kumaon Lit Fest which concluded last week.

NAINITAL: Joining the bandwagon of eminent personalities returning their awards, Nainital-based historian Shekhar Pathak announced that he will be returning his Padma Shri award which was conferred to him in 2007. Pathak made the announcement while addressing a gathering at the Nainital Film Festival here on Monday.

Pathak said he was returning the award in protest against the atmosphere of intolerance in the country and against the neglect of the Himalayan region. "Those writers and other personalities who returned these awards were made fun of and mocked. People who have returned their awards include those who protested against emergency and riots in Delhi in 1984. My gesture is to support them," said Pathak, adding that he will be returning the award within the next 10 days.

The former history professor blamed successive governments for 'ignorance' and 'exploitation' of the hills. "Akademi award recipient MM Kalburgi was murdered in broad daylight. Many others like him were killed too just for expression of their thoughts. The Akademi didn't even condemn the incident," said the 66-year-old historian, who is the founder of People's Association for Himalaya Area Research (PAHAR), an environmental NGO which he established in 1983.

Pathak is a former professor of history at Kumaun University, Nainital and a Nehru Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary Studies at Teen Murti in New Delhi. While serving as a professor of history in Kumaun University, he undertook a padyatra once every decade — in 1974, 1984, 1994 and 2004 — from Askot to Arakot, an east-west journey through the Central Himalayan region.

In 2007, he collaborated with Magsaysay Award winner Chandi Prasad Bhatt, roaming the Himalayas, from Leh to Arunachal Pradesh on a three-year project to study the Himalayan people. He also co-authored, "Asia ki Peeth Per"(On Asia's Back) with Uma Bhatt, a biography of legendary Himalayan explorer Pundit Nain Singh Rawat.