Covert attempt to snub equality of citizens - GulfToday

Covert attempt to snub equality of citizens

BRP Bhaskar

@brpbhaskar

Indian journalist with over 50 years of newspaper, news agency and television experience.

Indian journalist with over 50 years of newspaper, news agency and television experience.

Modi’s population control talk raises concern

Narendra Modi. File

A Hindutva project aimed at re-establishing primacy of the Vedic community is on. In 2016, two years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office, the Ministry of Culture set up a committee for “holistic study of origin and evolution of Indian culture since 12,000 years before present and its interface with other cultures of the world.”

Information about the committee became public for the first time in March 2018 through a Reuters report under the joint byline of Rupam Jain and Tom Lasseter.

The report was based on official documents, including minutes of the committee’s first meeting, and interviews with then Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leaders Manmohan Vaidya and Balamukund Pandey and Committee Chairman K.N. Dikshit, among others.

A former Joint Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, Dikshit is now Chairman of the Indian Archaeological Society.

RSS is the fountainhead of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s Hindutva ideology.

In the Council of Ministers formed after last year’s elections, Modi replaced Mahesh Sharma with Prahlad Patel.

In a written reply in Parliament last week, Patel acknowledged that “a committee has been set up for studying the origin and evolution of Indian culture.”

Asked if the ministry planned to use the committee’s report in textbooks, he said, “At present, there is no such proposal”.

Mahesh Sharma had told Reuters that he expected the committee’s conclusions to find their way into school textbooks and academic research. “To bring about cultural changes, we have to rewrite history,” Manmohan Vaidya told Reuters.

Balmukund Pandey, head of RSS’s historical research wing, said “the time is now” to restore India’s past glory by establishing that ancient Hindu texts are facts, not myth.

Dikshit was more explicit. “I have been asked to present a report that will help the government rewrite certain aspects of ancient history,” he said.

Recent reports say the committee has 16 members. A full list of its members is not available in the public domain. But opposition leaders have said it does not include anyone from the southern and northeastern states or the religious minorities.

Dalits, Adivasis and women are also unrepresented. Most of these groups have distinct cultural traditions of their own. Denial of representation to them appears to be an attempt to exclude the numerous streams that contributed, over centuries, to make India a many-splendoured, multicultural society, and present Indian culture as an exclusive legacy of the Vedic stream.

The 12,000-year timeframe mentioned in the committee’s terms of reference is significant.  

The best available scientific information in late 19th century was that the bulk of India’s population was derived from two migrations, one of Vedic Aryans from Central Asia who reached the subcontinent around 1500 BCE and the other of Dravidians who came from the Mediterranean region some 1,500 years earlier.

Members of the Vedic stream attempted to push back the date of their ancestors’ arrival to claim they are the earliest inhabitants.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a leading nationalist, in a book published in 1903, propounded a theory that Aryans came from the Arctic Circle 12,000 years ago.

MS Golwalker, RSS’s second supreme chief, accepted this timeframe and went on to declare in a 1939 book that Hindus have been in “undisputed and undisturbed possession of this land for over eight or even ten thousand years”.  

Early in the 20th century British archaeologists unearthed the fabulous Indus Valley civilisation which had flourished around 2500 BCE. The Aryan stream immediately laid claim to it.

Most Indian and foreign scholars involved in Indus Valley studies, however, now consider it the work of ancestors of the Dravidians.

Vedic Aryans are the authors of the Varna theory on which rests the pernicious caste system.

They established supremacy in the northern parts of the subcontinent after Pushyamitra, a Brahmin army commander, killed Maurya emperor Brahadrata and seized power in 185 BCE.

Manusmriti, which invokes divine sanction for Brahmin supremacy, was written around that time to replace the equitable laws of the Buddhist period.

Recent genetic studies also confirm that Indian society witnessed major changes in the second century BCE.

When India gained freedom in 1947, RSS wanted Manusmriti to be made the Constitution. But the Congress, which had led the freedom movement, entrusted the task of drafting the Constitution to a committee headed by BR Ambedkar, who had burnt that book in protest against its role in perpetuating the caste system.

If the effort to obliterate the cultural roots of the diverse peoples of India succeeds, the principle of equality enshrined in the Constitution adopted 70 years ago will become a thing of the past.

Related articles