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8 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Attempt to rewrite Indian history

Panel to make report public ‘soon’

The Times of India

The findings of a committee set up to conduct a ‘holistic study’ of the evolution of 12,000 years of Indian culture are due to be placed in public soon in the midst of contentions — vehemently denied by the government — that it is intended to rewrite ancient Indian history and textbooks, reports The Times of India from New Delhi.

The panel comprising experts had a one-year mandate to carry out a ‘holistic study of the origin and evolution of Indian culture since 12,000 years before to present (sic), and its interface with other cultures of the world’.

Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said his ministry had set up a 17-member multi-disciplinary committee that was mandated to verify facts that establish the rich history of India and its culture. "The committee met twice during its one-year tenure and has given various suggestions on important historic findings on Indian culture," Sharma said, adding that the report hasn't been collated and put in the public domain as yet.

A Reuters report that the committee's report would be a basis of rewriting history and that archaeological finds were being used to argue that Hindus had directly descended from the original inhabitants and that ancient Hindu scriptures are a fact set off a controversy over

the intent of the panel. The report quoted committee head K N Dixit as saying, “I have been asked to present a report that will help the government rewrite certain aspects of ancient history.” RSS spokesman Manmohan Vaidya was quoted as saying, “The true colour of Indian history is saffron and to bring about cultural changes we have to rewrite history.”

Sharma denied any intent to rewrite history or textbooks and said the committee, whose one-year tenure ended on November 11, 2017, had given various suggestions about the origins of Sanskrit, the Indo-European confluence and references to findings of the Kushan period. HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, whose ministry is in charge of education and oversees any changes to textbooks, said he had no knowledge of the committee or its findings.

The committee, however, seems likely to make a case for historicity of Indian thought and tradition. “We are attempting to capture the antiquity of Indian history, culture and tradition. We will make recommendations and the committee will also be responsible to create resource materials and contents on the same,” said a committee member.

While the government denied the committee was linked to any effort to alter the reading of history, the panel’s mandate could include an examination of long-held views on the advent of Aryans and the evolution of Sanskrit. Saffron ideologues have regularly challenged the Aryan “invasion” theory.

Stating that the final report will take time, one of the members of the committee, Prof Santosh Kumar Shukla of Jawaharlal Nehru University, said drafting is at a preliminary stage. “Yes, the committee was set up, but deliberations and drafting of the report are at a preliminary stage. Once it is ready, it will be submitted to the ministry (of culture).”

According to committee members, there are no plans to prepare history textbooks for schools or higher education courses as the mandate of the committee is to establish facts on India’s history and culture. “We are not making history textbooks or rewriting history. We are looking at resources, verifying facts which establish the millions-of-years-old rich history of India and its culture. Many of these have been presented as distortions or completely ignored,” said a member.

A committee member, who did not wish to be identified, also said the committee’s scope of work was limited to research, deliberation and content creation. “The report will be submitted to the government of India. Thereafter the government will decide what to do with it,” a source said.

Sharma, meanwhile, confirmed to the newspaper that the ministry also set up a separate advisory committee to study the origins of Saraswati, the mythical river. Formed in September 2015, the committee was given a two-year tenure, which was extended for another two years in December 2017. “The committee comprises archaeologists, anthropologists, linguists and historians, among others, to study the Saraswati basin and establish its origins. I have also visited the site where the Saraswati is said to have been found in Kurukshetra in Haryana,” Sharma said.

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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