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State forgets first historian

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The Telegraph Online   |   Published 29.12.05, 12:00 AM

He pioneered the trend of foregrounding the role of the adivasis in anti-colonial struggles, which his students Dr. J.C. Jha and Dr. K.S. Singh so famously pursued later. His monumental History of Freedom Movement in Bihar and Unrest against British Rule in Bihar highlighted the role of places and personalities belonging to Jharkhand active in promoting Indian nationalism.

He made profuse use of archival sources, newspapers, autobiographies, memoirs etc. that facilitated his ascent to international fame as a historian, the like of which Bihar had not produced many and Jharkhand has produced none.

He observed that ?oracle of conscience? and no other objective so noble and high as correct unfolding of a country?s history in the broadest sense of the term should be the ideal for a researcher.

The quest of knowledge for Dr. Datta was not simply a self-seeking pursuit.

In the capacity of Honorary Director of Bihar State Archives, President Regional Records Survey Commission and Director of Kashi Prasad Jaysawal Research Institute, Patna, he created the most congenial setting for the highest ideal of scholarship to be followed by others. Legendary historian Prof. S.H. Askari appreciated Dr. Datta?s ?pioneering work in making Bihar research minded?.

This illustrious career earned him the General Presidentship of the Indian History Congress in its 21st session at Trivandrum in 1958 and Jadunath Sarkar Gold Medal from the Asiatic Society in 1967. He was made the founder vice-chancellor of Magadh University in 1962 and then from 1965 till 1970 he acted as the vice-chancellor of Patna University.

His administrative career was equally marked by creativity and humanness when he did not flinch from bending the rules to help students and others.

As Principal, Patna College, he accommodated those students who did not get seats in the hostels in the extra rooms he had at his Patna College quarters.

A man who rose from a remote rural setting to become an internationally famous historian always lived the simplicity and rusticity of a common Jharkhandi.

?We were all beneficiaries of K.K.Datta?s warm humanity no less than his thoughtful scholarship?, is what Dr Walter Hauser, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Virginia, wrote in tribute to the greatest historian Jharkhand has produced. We will be failing in our duty if we do not perpetuate his memory by emulating the scholarly ideals, which he lived himself. (asokakumarsen@sify.com)



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