Historical Profile:

Historical Background

Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR) was established in 1977 by the Ministry of Education, Government of India as an autonomous organization designed to bring back the entire tradition of Indian philosophy to its pristine and original form and provide required impetus to nurture and promote new thinking through its intensive programs of research. This was the result of the decision of a Committee which had been formed to look into the possibility of raising a body like ICSSR and ICHR exclusively for the discipline of philosophy, for the preservation of Indiaís profound, long and living philosophical tradition. Considering the uniqueness and importance of the subject which was all comprehensive and holistic, the Committee felt the need to strongly recommend that in order to protect the greatest achievements which are recorded in the field of philosophy in India and also preserve deep profundities of its culture, there was a need to evolve a Governmental Institution as ICPR. An argument crucially advanced was that if there is one single factor which would command respect and attention from the contemporary world, it would be none other than the profound wisdom contained in Indian philosophy.

The authorities of the Government of India were convinced that more than any other discipline of knowledge, philosophy in India deserved to have an exclusive and special agency in the country, so conceived and designed that the entire tradition of Indian philosophy is brought back to its original vigor and further developed through various research programs. The chief objective was to portray the lofty philosophical ideals of the country and utilize their tenets for reawakening of India and empower the entire humanity by extending to it the benefits of the accumulated wisdom of India by which human bondage could be meaningfully addressed and humanity could be helped to arrive at progressive perfection at an accelerated pace.

It was felt that this important work could be carried out, not merely through universities alone or through any other existing learned body designed to promote Natural and Human Sciences, but through an independent body that could function as an autonomous organization fully funded by the Government and freely developed by eminent philosophers of the country. It was further envisaged that since philosophy is, by its very nature, comprehensive in its approach and since it is a study of the world as a whole and of all domains of existence in their intricate interrelationships, it must be inter-disciplinary in character.

As a result of mature deliberations, the then Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi appreciated and approved the formation of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR). In 1977, therefore, the Ministry of Education formulated the Memorandum of Association (MOA) of the ICPR and the organization was formed as a Society registered under the Registration of Societies Act.

The initial years from 1977 to 1981 were marked by very slow activity on the part of the Government and it was only in 1981 that the ICPR started functioning when Professor D.P. Chattopadhyaya was appointed the founder Chairman of the Council. The Council began to function from his residence in the initial days till the office was shifted to an independent accommodation in Vasant Vihar. Later, the office was shifted to Guru Nanak Foundation and subsequently to USO House. In 1987, the office was again shifted to Rajendra Bhavan, where ICPR could be stabilized insofar as basic, physical accommodation was concerned. It was during this initial period that the Council made great efforts to get the authorities allot a piece of land for ICPR by the Delhi Development Authority to construct a permanent office for the ICPR. Ultimately, DDA allotted the required land at 36 Tughlakabad Institutional Area, where the present building of the ICPR was built during the years 1990-1996. The building of the ICPR was inaugurated in 1999 by the then Minister of HRD, Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi and the office has been functioning here since then.

Along side the head-quarters of Delhi, there were wide consultations to build an Academic Centre with a world class library in philosophy to cater to the needs of those who are interested in Philosophy. Shri C.P.N. Singh, the then Governor of Uttar Pradesh took the initiative and came up with a gracious offer to house the Academic Centre at the Butler Palace in Lucknow. It may be mentioned here that the palace was built in 1922 by the Rajah of Mehmoodabad as the residence of Sir Harcourt Butler, the then Governor. After independence, it remained vacant for a while and was declared as ìenemy propertyî in 1965 and was brought under the control of Ministry of Commerce. The UP Government used it as the Sales tax office till it was given to ICPR in 1981. The Academic Centre started functioning with Professor T.K. Sarkar as the Director from 1983. With the efforts of the Council, and especially with the hard work put in by Professor R.R. Verma, formerly Director at the Academic centre, Butler Palace became a hub of philosophical activities with an up-to-date specialized library containing 32,000 volumes and yearly subscription to 110 journals, a guest house, well equipped seminar room, exhibition hall and an office. The Centre was brimming with activities with large number of students and researchers visiting Academic Centre library apart from regular seminars being organized there. In 2006, because of Supreme Court judgment against the UP government, the ICPR was asked to vacate the Butler Palace and was forced to locate it in PCF Building, Lucknow which unfortunatly inadequate in every respect for the academic requirement of the ICPR. The present administration is making all efforts to find a suitable place to house the library and restart the academic activities at the Centre.

In all these years, ICPR devoted itself to the task of furthering the activities for the development of philosophy in India and laid out its plans for its progressive activities. They are as follows:

1. Setting up a Journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research; (JICPR)

2. Developing programs to assimilate in condensed form some of the important achievements of Indian philosophers, and publishing a series of books focused on important problems of ontology, epistemology, ethics, social and political philosophy and Indian spirituality, works related to living philosophers of India. Also books that bring out Indian expertise in regard to Western philosophy.

3. Developing schemes for seminars, workshops and refresher courses that aim at promoting very high level research in philosophy by the philosophical community of India on themes relevant to the recovery of ancient classical systems of Indian philosophy and relevant also to the progress of contemporary Indian philosophy that would find for itself a high place in the contemporary scene of philosophy in the world at large. This program also envisaged empowerment of young and budding scholars and providing training to philosophers, old and new, so that they could think on new lines on philosophical topics and issues which would be analytic as well as synthetic in character.

4. Initiating special programs through which teaching- learning material could be produced that would facilitate study of philosophy in the country in a manner that would be pedagogically sound and academically refreshing.

5. Initiating special programs for young scholars in the country to meet together over an annual essay competition followed by a high level seminar. 6. Establishing fellowship schemes of different kinds.

7. Establishment of relationships with various organizations of philosophy in India, in the universities and in the colleges.

8. Establishment of relationships with eminent philosophers in different parts of the world and famous institutions of philosophy in the world.

9. Preparing exhibitions on philosophical themes, whereby subtle concepts of philosophy could be transmitted to students, teachers and the general public through artistic forms that would be at once instructive and aesthetically enjoyable.

10. Organization of international conferences on philosophy, including the one inaugurated by the then Prime Minister of India, Mrs Indira Gandhi, (October 10, 1984) which brought together the philosophers of East and West for a fruitful exchange of ideas and experiences.

11. Selection of philosophers of India for participation in international conferences held abroad, resulting in the promotion and propagation of Indian philosophy in the contemporary philosophical community.

12. Development of a world class library of philosophy, which is located now in Lucknow which is perhaps the best in Asia today.

13. Establishment of close relationship with the Government of India for collaborative projects as also for promoting interdisciplinary research in the country.

The main aims and objectives of the Council are as follows:

  • Striving for excellence, creativity and originality in philosophical research within the country.
  • Promoting and encouraging indigenous interdisciplinary research and cross-cultural studies.
  • Strengthening the teaching of philosophy so as to encourage brilliant students to take up the study of philosophy.
  • Dovetailing teaching and research by providing impetus and additional training to philosophy teachers.
  • To identify and encourage inter-disciplinary research especially on topics that are intellectually challenging, especially those that are concerned with national planning and development.
  • To review the progress of research in philosophy from time to time.
  • To sponsor or assist projects or programs of research in philosophy.
  • To give financial support to institutions and organizations engaged in research activities in philosophy.
  • To provide technical assistance or guidance for the formulation of research projects and programs in philosophy, by individuals or institutions, and/or organizing and supporting institutional or other arrangements for training in research methodology.
  • To indicate periodically areas in and topics on which research in philosophy should be promoted and to adopt special measures for the development of research in neglected or developing areas in philosophy.
  • To co-ordinate research activities in philosophy and to encourage programs of inter-disciplinary research.
  • To organize, sponsor and assist seminars, special courses, study circles, working groups/units and conferences for promoting research in philosophy, and to establish institutes for the same purpose.
  • To give grants for publication of digests, journals, periodicals and scholarly works devoted to research in philosophy and also to undertake their publication in select cases.
  • To institute and administer fellowships, scholarships and awards for research in philosophy by students, teachers and others.
  • To develop and support documentation services, including maintenance and supply of data, preparation of inventories of current research in philosophy and compilation of a national register of philosophers.
  • To promote collaboration in research between Indian philosophers and philosophical institutions and those from other countries.
  • To take special steps to develop a group of talented young philosophers and to encourage research by young philosophers working in universities and other institutions.
  • To organize academic exchange program with other countries and help scholars with travel grants to participate in international events in philosophy organized abroad.
  • To advise the Government of India on all such matters pertaining to teaching and research in philosophy as may be referred to it by the Government from time to time.
  • To enter into collaborations with other institutions, organizations and agencies, on mutually agreed terms, for the promotion of research in philosophy.