C. I. Issac – Historian from Kerala who won Padma Shri in 2023
Professor C. I. Issac is a historian, social activist & academician from Kottayam, Kerala who is known for approaching history from an Indo-centric angle. After retiring from teaching, he continued with his career as a historian. As a historian, social activist & academician, he has contributed nearly four-and-a-half decades and 2023, his efforts were acknowledged by government of India by honouring him with 4th highest civilian award 2023. He was 71 years old, when he received this honour.
Professor C. I. Issac worked as a professor at the famous CMS College, Kottayam
He was born in 1962 in Karukachal, a small town in Changanassery Taluk in Kottayam district of Kerala state. He completed his studies from History department at NSS Hindu College, Changanassery, and later joined as a lecturer at CMS College, Kottayam, where he superannuated from service in 2008 as a professor. In 2015 he was appointed as a member at Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) under the Human Resources Development Ministry. He was the only Christian member of the council.
He was attracted to RSS during his teens
He hailed from a traditional Congress family. But he got attracted to RSS and Jan Sangh at the age of 18. He was deeply influenced by RSS leader Advocate MS Karunakaran and started attending RSS shakhas at the age of 19, the lone Christian in that region. He was a degree student of NSS Hindu College in Changanassery back then, when he joined RSS in 1973.
His family was broad minded to accept his new ideologies. Not even CSI church, which he followed, objected. He still follows Christianity, and attends the Holy Mass every Sunday at the church. Neither his RSS ideology is not preventing it nor RSS has interfered in his religious choices. He believes Hindu nationalism is the soul of India, and when other religions accept it, all communal issues are to end.
Issac has authored over 10 books
He has published several research works, and has been closely associated with the Sangh Parivar organisations for many decades. He also served as vice-president of the right-wing think-tank Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram.
Many of his research works have questioned the mainstream historical narratives & works on the nationalist movements in Kerala. One of them include Malabar revolution led by Variamkunnath Kunhamed Haji. The three-member ICHR panel, led by Issac recommended the removal of 382 moplah martyrs of the 1921 rebellion from the list of 600-odd freedom fighters from the fifth volume of the Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle. Those names include Variyamkunnath Kunjahammad Haji and Ali Musliyar.
He currently serves as chairperson of the focussed group for social sciences for developing a national curriculum framework in line with the National Education Policy 2020.
Professor C. I. Issac – Some interesting and less-known facts
1. He is an RSS-affiliated Christian. He joined the organization in 1973, while practising Christianity. He was a degree student of NSS Hindu College in Changanassery back then.
2. He has recommended the NCERT to use the word ‘classical India’ instead of ‘ancient India’ in textbooks. He says, India was more modern & far advanced in the ancient period than when the British were here, while comparing with rest world.
3. He recommends using ‘Bharat’ instead of India while referring to the country during the pre-Independent period.
4. He credits RSS to identify the talents of a Christian like him and to support him.
5. He challenged the Syrian Christian narrative that St Thomas converted their upper-caste Hindu forefathers.
6. His research suggests that there were Christians in Kerala even before AD 52, the year when St.Thomas came to India.