To counter the efforts of Hindutva supporters, including BJP-led governments in the Center and several states, 88 Indian and international scholars have come together to publish a “Report on Indian Civilization and History “.
The report, led by linguist GN Devy, was unveiled here on Sunday. It documents the history of India over the past 12,000 years. Its aim is to challenge a similar effort the Center announced in September 2020. The report attempts a contest between the scientific view of history and the ideologically charged attempts to distort and twist the history of South Asia that has been unfolding in front of us in recent years, Devy said. .
In September 2020, the Center set up a committee to study “the origin and evolution of Indian culture dating back approximately 12,000 years”. A similar committee was appointed in 2017. The government committees were criticized for having only nominal or no representation from the southern and northeastern regions of India, members of religious minorities, Dalits and women.
The effort led by Devy includes around 100 sections spanning genetics, archaeology, anthropology, linguistics and philosophy. Devy said the report should be considered a work in progress, refined, revised and reworded after short intervals. It strives to ensure that “no extreme and exclusive position ever takes hold of the minds of Indians”, which could weaken the Constitution that makes India “a union of traditions, transformations and people “. Devy said the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) bases its attempt to recast Indian history on two sciences – genetics and archaeology, and circulates random selections of not fully verified finds on social media, which must be countered.
In addition to Devy, Tony Joseph and Ravi Korisettar edited the report with Professors Rajmohan Gandhi, Hans Heinrich Hock, Sudesha Gua and Andrew Ollett serving as expert advisors to the project. The book will be translated into several languages, including Kannada, Bengali and Hindi. The team of contributors has an ideal diversity profile and religious, regional, gender and ethnic balance.
Poet Ashok Vajpeyi, historian Narayani Gupta, political scientist Zoya Hasan, political psychologist Ashis Nandy and CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, among others, attended the launch.