Shouldn’t minorities, Dalits talk about Indian culture: Kanimozhi asks Centre

The RSS-BJP combine has been eager to showcase ancient Indian history as one of victory of the Hindus over others, and of a united Hindu society that was not fraught by caste system or other divisions, said the people cited earlier.

Kanimozhi
NEW DELHI: A day after culture minister Prahlad Singh Patel informed Parliament in a written reply that an expert committee is looking into the study of evolution of Indian culture, DMK MP Kanimozhi raised concerns over the absence of any person from the minority communities or Dalits in the panel. “Shouldn’t minorities or Dalits talk about Indian culture?” she asked the government on Tuesday.

The 16-member panel has not met in the past two years, according to people aware of the matter. Its members include archaeologists KN Dikshit, BR Mani and RS Bisht, and retired judge Mukundkam Sharma who was also the chairman of the government's committee to review sports governance code. Six of the professors in the panel specialise in Sanskrit and are mostly from the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan and Lal Bahadur Shastri Sanskrit University. Professors of history and Sanskrit, such as Makkhan Lal and Santosh Shukla, with known affiliations to Sangh parivar bodies, are also among the members.

Dikshit, who is also the chairman of the Archaeological Society of India, told ET that a committee was formed in 2017-2018 and it had held three meetings. “But I have to get the papers in hand to talk about the new committee, or if they have extended the same panel,” he said.


Patel had said that the expert committee was set up for conducting holistic study of origin and evolution of Indian culture. This team will look at the evolution of Indian culture from the present to 12,000 years ago and its “interface with other cultures of the world”, he had said.

Members of the committee told ET that during the first two meetings, they were asked to submit their suggestions on how to go about the study, and that after that there has not been an official meeting.

The RSS-BJP combine has been eager to showcase ancient Indian history as one of victory of the Hindus over others, and of a united Hindu society that was not fraught by caste system or other divisions, said the people cited earlier.
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According to senior RSS leader Sunil Ambekar, the roadmap for the RSS in the academic space “is to identify and isolate falsehoods and misrepresentations… inclusion of important events, developments and personalities with the weightage that they deserve; the third is the reclamation of the Indian history through university researches”, he writes in his book ‘The RSS: Roadmaps for the 21st Century’.

Another member of the expert panel, Ramesh Kumar Pandey, vice chancellor of Shri Lal Bahadur National Sanskrit University, said that in the three meetings that were held by the committee in the last term of the government, a framework was decided for researching the evolution of the Indian society. “Clearly, there was a lot of knowledge and prosperity here, as we were called the vishwaguru (teacher of the entire world). There is no doubt that the vedas are the oldest scriptures. We had discussed what are the other texts we should look at. I am sure there will be movement on this,” he said.

Panel member MR Sharma, chairman of the World Brahman Federation, said: “Things have not moved after the initial meetings. Such a study about our own culture should not be delayed,” he said.

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