Ashwin Shukla 1, Vik. Samvat 2073. Yugabda 5118: 1 October 2016

5. SURGICAL STRIKES: FIRST MAJOR USE OF CARTOSAT IMAGES FOR ARMY 6. Tributes paid to bharatiya soldiers on Haifa Day
9. 'Festival of India' in Australia 10. 'Stop imitating Western philosophers' - DR KRISHNA GOPAL
11. Women in KeralA after 2 centuries participated in 'Pulikali' 12. INSTITUTIONS AND INDIVIDUALS MUST WORK IN TANDEM: MUKUNDA
13. Canada Mints Diwali Gold and Silver Coins 14. ISRO'S LONGEST-EVER PSLV SATELLITE LAUNCH
15. HRSC Serving Over 3 Million Meals a Year in Schools in Kenya 16: Air Force successfully test fires long range air-to-air MICA missile
17. FARMING TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP, WOMEN BREAK GLASS CEILING 18. world's largest solar power plant in tamil nadu
19: Education in mother tongue, Gateway to Glory 20. new Hindu temple OF LUBBOCK, TEXAS
21. VALLEY CALLS TERRORISTS' BLUFF; 25K YOUTHS VIE FOR J&K SPO POSTS 22. Guinness Record: 989 lamps lit simultaneously by specially-abled people
23. 2 bharatiyas and 1 Bharatiya-American in UN sustainable development goals 24. 31 Bharatiya universities feature in World rankings
25. Bharatiya-origin physician awarded National Humanities Medal in US 26. On 350th birthday, world hails Guru Gobind Singh, the poet
27. RSS Punjab Sah-Sanghchalak Gagneja succumbs to injuries 28. Pakistan National Assembly Passes Hindu Marriage Bill

1. FESTIVALS: CELEBRATING 1000 YEARS NAROPA: Ladakh region hosted a spiritual celebration, known as the Naropa Festival (September 16-22), which happens once in 12 years. It honours Saint Naropa (1016-1100), the patron Saint of the Drupka Lineage. The Drupka Lineage is a branch of Kagyu School in Tibetan Buddhism. This year marks the 1000th birth anniversary of Saint Naropa. Naropa hailed from a Brahmin family in Bengal who renounced his married life to pursue the spirit of enlightenment. His quest led him to Nalanda University in Bihar where he became a master of spiritual debate as well as the Chancellor of the university. He relinquished his position to learn from Tilopa - a mahasiddha, even facing hardships for the same.

The most pulling draw at the celebrations was the public unveiling of the six bone ornaments - Crown, Earrings, Necklace, Saralkha, Bangle, and Anklet - that his Holiness the Gyalwang Drupka wore. Known as the Kumbh Mela of the Himalayas, the festival, held around the premises of the famous Hemis Monastery - the monastery of the Drupka Lineage - was attended by lakhs of people from all over the world. Cultural performances from Ladakh, Bhutan, the famous Drukpa Kung Fu nuns, archery competition, Ladakhi fashion show and celebrity performances were some of the chief hightlights of the event. This was the fourth edition of the Naropa Festival.-goTop


2. VANDE MATARAM SUNG BY MORE THAN A LAKH: Hindu Adhyatma and Sewa Founation, Jaipur organised a programme in Jaipur in which more than one lakh people sung Vande Mataram together. In the direction of Pt. Alok Bhatt, 504 artists from all over Bharat with 18 different types of musical instrument and wearing tricolor dress performed on the stage for one and half hour. They sung Vande Mataram and the audience participated in it. 600 handicapped children and youth also joined to sing Vande Matram. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje was the chief guest and other dignitaries who were present in the programme were Gunwant Singh Kothari, RSS Akhil Bharatiya sah Sewa Pramukh, Ravi Kumar, Sahsamyojak Vishwa Vibhag, Jagdish ji, Akhil Bharatiya Sahsharirik Pramukh, Mukund ji, Akhil Bharatiya Sah Bouddhik Pramukh and Kshetra Pracharak Durgadas ji. -goTop


3. 11th ANNUAL HINDU MANDIR EXECUTIVES CONFERENCE (HMEC) - 2016:  The eleventh HMEC, organized by Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America - VHPA, was held in Atlanta, Georgia at the Holiday Inn (Roswell) from September 16 to 18, 2016. The first HMEC conference was held in Atlanta. After a ten-year journey to many parts of North America and the Caribbean, the conference was again held this year in Atlanta successfully. The conference sessions were well received by delegates from USA, Canada, Caribbean, Mauritius and Bharat.

There were over 25 Grand Hosts and Co-Hosts of the conference mainly from USA and Canada. Some 200 adult and youth delegates drawn from over 70 organizations and 5 countries participated in the conference.

 The theme of the conference was: Awareness and Awakening: The Future Role of Hindu Mandirs and Institutions. HMEC 2016 provided a platform for stakeholders like mandirs, other Hindu organizations, pundits, gurus, teachers, sanyasis, scholars, activists, and practitioners and non-practitioners to celebrate, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate the state of Dharma in North America and the Caribbean and come up with strategies and action plans.

The sessions included topics like 'Hindu History and Megatrends in America', 'The Future Role of Hindu Mandirs and Institutions.'etc. A number of parallel sessions were held to cover large number of important and relevant topics Stressful Challenges in Modern Hindus, Respect for/Emphasis on Education of Rituals, 2nd Generation Parents etc  and youth sessions. -goTop


4. RSS SHAKA RESTORED PEACE IN A KERALA VILLAGE KNOWN FOR VIOLENT YOUTH AND CRIME: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Sarasanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat visited a shakha in Thamaram, a small hamlet near Kalady in Thiruvananthapuram on September 23. There were about 200 swayamsevaks in the shakha. Thamaram was once notorious for goons and quotation gangs, young men on hire to whoever bid the highest price to maim and kill. That was before the RSS shakha was set up. Today, around 600 families living there vouch that peace is back in their lives. There are several specialties in this shakha. All four sections of the shakha, schoolchildren, teenagers, college-going students and adults are active here. More than 80% members of the shakha come from weaker sections. -goTop


5. SURGICAL STRIKES: FIRST MAJOR USE OF CARTOSAT IMAGES FOR ARMY: In what's being described as the first major use of the Cartosat family of satellites, the last one (2C) launched in June this year, sources in ISRO said that the armed forces were aided by high-resolution images for the surgical strikes conducted across the line of control (LoC) in the wee hours of September 29th.

The Cartosat-2C in particular added more teeth to Bharat's military surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, and has been providing high resolution images of 0.65 metres, an improvement over the 0.8m resolution of the earlier missions.

"Cartosat also provided Area of Interest (AOI) based images for the armed forces," the source said. Another explained that based on requests, one or more scenes/images covering the AOI as specified is provided in as a single polygon (all the areas in one circle) in the form of a shapefile (non-topological geometry and attribute information for the spatial features). -goTop


6. Tributes paid to bharatiya soldiers on Haifa Day: A program was organised on September 23rd on behalf of Indo Israel Friendship Forum to commemorate the anniversary of battle for Haifa in Israel and sacrifice of Bharatiya soldiers. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Lt Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Prof Jagadish Mukhi and RSS Vishwa Vibhag Joint-coordinator Ravi Kumar, Ambassador of Israel Daniel Karman and Indresh Kumar, Akhil Bharatiya Karyakarnini Member of RSS were present at Teenmurti Chowk in the national capital and paid tributes to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in freeing Haifa. Afterwards a book was realeased penned by Vishwa Vibhag sah samyojak Ravi Kumar - "Indian Heroism in Israel" and published by Vidya Bharati. -goTop


7. 'Bharat’s Identity iS Hindu' - Dr. Swamy: "Bharat's Identity is Hindu. This is similar to USA's identity as 'Anglo-Saxon Caucasian Protestant Christian'. It may have citizens from various races and religions. Similarly, Bharat may be home for people practicing various religions, the identity however is Hindu," said senior BJP leader Dr. Subramanian Swamy addressing an audience of about 600 people in a packed hall in Plano (Dallas area), Texas, USA. Dr Swamy was on an invitation from Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF) to speak on "The Government control of Temples in Bharat" on 13th September 2016. His speech covered various topics such as the history and significance of Hindu Temples; need for the preservation of Hindu values; difference between Hindu Temples and Christian churches and Mosques; legal battle to construct Rama Temple in Ayodhya etc. -goTop


8. RSS SWAYAMSEVAKS PARTICIPATED IN FLOOD RELIEF OPERATIONS IN BHAGYANAGAR: The continuous heavy rains in third week of September in Hyderabad had brought the city to standstill, where several colonies were inundated with water, big and small lakes in and around the city were overflowing. In this hour of crisis, RSS swayamsevaks extended their help in rescue and relief operations at various locations of the city.

Alwal was one of the worst affected areas. A lake in the area was overflowing resulting 10 adjacent colonies to be completely water logged and hampering the traffic movement on the main road. 40 Swayamsevaks from Alwal and Secunderabad bhag participated in the day long sewa activity of distributing 2000 food and water packets and easing the traffic on Alwal main road.

In Nizampet village, houses and parking areas in apartments were completely under rain water due to overflowing of nearby lake. Sensing this dangerous inflow of rain water into the lake, 150 swayamsevaks put 3000 sand sacks to prevent sudden outflow of water or any leakages that may weaken the banks of lake. They worked around the clock along with local youth and administration to ensure that the overflowing lake was prevented and colonies protected from heavy water logging. -goTop


9. 'Festival of India' in Australia was inaugurated in Sydney by Union Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma on September 19th. The night witnessed spectacular joint performances by Bharatiya and Australian artists.
"It is the first of its kind festival and it is the matter of pride for all of us today", said Sharma.
The festival, an initiative of Bharatiya government will go on for 10 weeks across seven cities including Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth etc. The event is showcasing Bharatiya cultural art forms such as Manipuri drummers, Sufi singing artist Sonam Kalra, Odissi, Kathak and Bharatnatyam dancers, Australian musicians and aboriginal dancers. 


10. 'Stop imitating Western philosophers' - DR KRISHNA GOPAL: As a part of a two-day seminar in JNU on 'Post-Independence Indian Literature and Culture', joint general secretary of RSS, Krishna Gopal, was all praise for art and literature showcasing developing nationalistic ideas in the country. Addressing an audience at Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies, Gopal said not many young people read Bharatiya literary artists any more. The Vedas are the most ancient form of literature which had an objective of unifying and not breaking, unlike other literary texts, he said.

Giving examples of Buddha, Nanak, Kabir etc. and how they shaped thinking, Gopal told students they should stop imitating western philosophers and look to inculcate more of Bharatiya belief. Poet and professor of JNU Makarand Paranjape said "Bharatiya literature is something that binds the dialogue and the vernacular of the nation and creates an alternative modernity." -goTop


11. Women in KeralA after 2 centuries participated in 'Pulikali': In Kerala, first time in its two-century-old history, women donned tiger costumes and performed Pulikali on September 18th in Thrissur town. The age old tradition was performed only by the men in the state, on the streets, dancing to the beat of drums wearing tiger masks and body painted with the face of big cat.

The organization called Women Integration and Growth through Sports (WINGS) which was initiated by N A Vinaya - who served at Thrissur Police Academy - last year, working for women empowerment took the initiative to participate in the traditional move. Sakkeena, fashion-designer from Kozhikode, assistant sub-inspector Vinaya and Divya, a teacher from Mallapuram were the ones who danced in this old traditional fest breaking the stereotype. These women were a part of 51-member Viyur Desham team that participated in the Pulikali at Thrissur's Thekkinadu Maidanam.  -goTop


12. INSTITUTIONS AND INDIVIDUALS MUST WORK IN TANDEM: MUKUNDA: On the occasion of Dr. Ambedkar's125th Birth Anniversary & Birth Centenary of Pt. Deendayal Upadyaya (the proponent of Integral Humanism of Ekatma Manava Darshan), RSS organised Bhagyanagar IT Sangamam on 25th September, 2016 in Hyderabad.

In-spite of continuous rains in Hyderabad, 565 swayamsevaks and well-wishers turned up for the occasion. This included 365 swayamsevaks in new ganavesh and 200 athitis.

The chief speaker of the event was Shri C R Mukunda ji, RSS Akhila Bharatiya Sah-boudhik Pramukh.

He emphasized the need to coordinate among institutional and social changes and bring the good people on board in right direction to reach our objectives by utilizing the demographic dividends. -goTop


13. Canada Mints Diwali Gold and Silver Coins: The Canadian Mint has issued a Diwali coin by Canadian artist Meera Sethi. The coin is inspired by the colorful Bharatiya folk art of Rangoli, which traditionally adorns entrances and floors during Diwali. Within the geometric and floral-inspired pattern lie numerous cultural symbols that represent the "Festival of Lights" as a cherished multi-ethnic celebration--one that is very much at home in Canada, where it is celebrated by Bharatiya-Canadians across the country. The one ounce coin issued in gold (US$2,119.84) and the differently designed coin in silver ($69.62), can be ordered at "source" above. -goTop


14. ISRO'S LONGEST-EVER PSLV SATELLITE LAUNCH: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully completed its longest-ever mission on September 26 - launching eight satellites, including weather satellite SCATSAT-1, from one rocket into two different orbits. The 320 tonne Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket (PSLV-C35) carrying eight satellites - three Bharatiya and five foreign - was lifted off from the first launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The total weight of all the eight satellites is about 675 kg. This is ISRO's longest PSLV satellite launch mission spread over two hours and fifteen minutes.

SCATSAT-1 (Scatterometer Satellite-1) is a miniature satellite developed by ISRO to provide weather forecasting, cyclone prediction, and tracking services to Bharat. The mission life of the satellite is 5 years. Besides SCATSAT-1, the two other Bharatiya satellites are: Pratham (10kg), which will study the total electron count in space, built by Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) and Pisat (5.25 kg) from PES University, Bengaluru and its consortium. -goTop


15. HRSC Serving Over 3 Million Meals a Year in Schools in Kenya:  Hindu Religious & Service Centre (HRSC) of Kenya has been running school feeding programme since last three years. Six more schools enlisted this year to bring the total to 57 schools. Now HRSC reached a milestone of serving over 3 million hot meals to 18,463 school children in impoverished areas. -goTop


16. Air Force successfully test fires long range air-to-air MICA missile: Bharatiya Air Force has successfully fired recently acquired long range air-to-air MICA missile on a manoeuvring target from Mirage-2000 Upgrade combat aircraft.  With the success of this mission by 'Tigers', the first squadron of the force, IAF has become one of the few air forces in the world with the capability of such beyond visual range air-to-air missile. -goTop


17. FARMING TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP, WOMEN BREAK GLASS CEILING: Three women farmers, with their innovative and enterprising skills, have broken the barriers and entered the male bastion in agriculture with a bang. And, they won awards, the first Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Antyodaya Krishi Puruskar, instituted by The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

Delhi's Krishna Yadav, began her journey by selling vegetables on the roadside and then became a successful food processing entrepreneur who went on to open a factory to provide jobs to several people. Pooja Sharma, a small farmer from Haryana, won accolades for innovative ways of soyabean farming, Sikkim's Anuradha Chhetri used innovative technologies to increase orchid yields. Both Sharma and Chhetri got zonal awards.

This is the first time that awards have been instituted to recognise contributions of marginal, small and landless farmers for developing integrated and sustainable models of farming. -goTop


18. world's largest solar power plant in tamil nadu: World's largest solar power plant involving investment of around Rs 4,550 crore was opened on September 21st by the Adani group. This is a 648-mw solar plant and is situated at Kamuthi, Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu. The plant is connected to a 400 kilo volts substation of Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation. The plant consists of 3.80 lakh foundations, 25 lakh solar modules, 27,000 mt of structure, 576 inverters, and 154 transformers along with 6,000-km cables. The plant was built in eight months using equipment and machinery from around the world. Around 8,500 personnel worked on the project, installing an average of 11MW a day. -goTop


19. Education in mother tongue, Gateway to Glory: "Bhartiya Bhasha Manch" organized a symposium on Bharatiya languages in the Constitution club, New Delhi on September 10. Keynote speaker of the program Atul Kothari, National Secretary, Shiksha Sanskriti Uthan Nyas, said he is pleased with the growing acceptance of Hindi both within Bharat and worldwide. Around 100 countries worldwide and universities are running course on Hindi. Most developed and scientifically advanced nations such as Japan, Germany, France, China, etc. conduct all their businesses, education governance in their mother tongue. English is used nowhere. -goTop


20. new Hindu temple OF LUBBOCK, TEXAS: Nestled in a three-acre corner of the South Eastern  part of town, Hindu Temple of Lubbock was formally opened on September 17. A committee of organizers spent the past two years working and raising funds for the project. "This was our 20-year dream come true", Tarun Patel temple committee member said. The temple, 1400 84th St., contains a main worship area adorned with idols of Radha & Krishna and a hall for community functions. Total population of Hindus is 700 in the area of South Plains'. -goTop


21. VALLEY CALLS TERRORISTS’ BLUFF; 25K YOUTHS VIE FOR J&K SPO POSTS: Showing confidence in the Government's effort to reach out to the people of Jammu & Kashmir, thousands of youth across Kashmir defied terrorists' threat and the separatists' call and turned up to fill 10,000 posts of Special Police Officers (SPOs). "We have received over 25,000 applications from the aspiring candidates willing to serve as SPOs from across the 10 districts of the Valley," said a senior official supervising the recruitment process.

On September 22, the Centre had approved the recruitment of an additional 10,000 SPOs with immediate effect. There are already 25,000 SPOs in the State, engaged on a monthly honorarium of Rs 6,000. The Union Government's move came in the wake of reports which suggested that the majority of Kashmiri youth have opted for the jobs of SPO defying a call by Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani to boycott the recruitment rallies. -goTop


22. Guinness Record: 989 lamps lit simultaneously by specially-abled people: The Guinness Book of World Records is due another update after the tiny flames of exactly 989 oil lamps shimmered in unison in Navsari, Gujarat on September 16. As part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday celebrations, the Union government's Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities organized a mega camp for 'divyangs' or specially-abled people. "It's the first record of its kind. The benchmark was 500, and what the people of Navsari achieved today was 989. We congratuate everyone, and we're very happy that a new Guiness World Record has been made," a Guinness World Records offical said after the feat was achieved. -goTop


23. 2 bharatiyas and 1 Bharatiya-American in UN sustainable development goals: UN declared for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and selected two Bharatiyas and a Bharatiya-American among the 17 people selected for its inaugural class. Trisha Shetty, Ankit Kawatra and Bharatiya-American Karan Jerath have been chosen for this initiative. Selected from over 18,000 nominations from 186 different countries, these leaders, aged 19-30 years old, come from many different backgrounds and will support efforts to engage young people in the realization of the SDGs and will have opportunities to engage in UN and partner-led projects. -goTop


24. 31 Bharatiya universities feature in World rankings: The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru has jumped some 50 places in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2016-17, making it the top Bharatiya educational institution in the list. In the rankings published on September 21, IISc Bengaluru found a place in the 201-250 groups of best universities, up from the 251-300 groups in which it was ranked last year. And the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) was ranked in the 351-400 cohorts. The University of Oxford has become the first UK University to top the list in the 12-year history of the table.

The other Bharatiya universities on the list include IIT Delhi, IIT Kanpur and IIT Madras, all within the 401-500 ranks, and IIT Kharagpur and IIT Roorkee in the 501-600 band. Bharat has 19 institutes in the top 800, two more than last year and 12 others in the 801-980 band. Overall, Bharat has 31 institutions, including 14 new names, in the list of 980. -goTop


25. Bharatiya-origin physician awarded National Humanities Medal in US: Abraham Varghese, a Bharatiya-American physician and author has presented with the National Humanities Medal, America's highest humanities award, by US President Barack Obama for his contribution in the field of medicine. Varghese has authored several acclaimed books including 'My Own Country' and 'Cutting for Stone'. He was presented with the medal along with several other recipients at a ceremony held at the White House on September 22.  "I felt strongly then and now that what I was writing about, and my interest in the human experience of being ill or caring for the ill, was as much a part of medicine as knowledge of the function of the pancreas, for example," said Verghese, also a vice chair of Stanford's Department of Medicine. Born in Addis Ababa in 1955, he studied at Madras Medical College. After graduation, he left Bharat for a medical residency in the US. -goTop


26. On 350th birthday, world hails Guru Gobind Singh, the poet: The 10th Sikh preceptor, Guru Gobind Singh, is known to the world as the warrior-saint. But not many outside the Sikh faith are aware that he wrote 17 verse collections that are part of the 'Dasam Granth' - a separate religious text from the Guru Granth Sahib.

Speaking at the Sikh International Conclave observing the 350th birth anniversary of the Guru in Patna, Hindi litterateur Lal Manohar Upadhyaya said on September 23rd that of the 17 verse collections, only one is in Punjabi. The rest are in Hindi, Braj, Persian, Bhojpuri and other languages. "This shows the versatility of the poet-Guru," Upadhyaya said.

Professor Sukhdayal Singh from Delhi said 'Zafarnama', written by Guruji in Persian, is the only example of literature in which a contemporary ruler (Aurangzeb) was criticised so tersely. He said Guruji used poetry not only as a literary piece, but also as a means to instil valour in people. -goTop


27. RSS Punjab Sah-Sanghchalak Gagneja succumbs to injuries: Sah-Sanghchalak of RSS Punjab Prant Brig (Retd) Jagdish Gagneja who was injured in a gun attack on August 6, breathed his last on 22 September at a hospital in Ludhiana. Besides members of his family, senior RSS and BJP leaders were present at the hospital and at the cremation. -goTop


28. Pakistan National Assembly Passes Hindu Marriage Bill: Six decades after it came into existence, Pakistan gave nod to a Hindu Marriage Bill that seeks to set up a legal framework for marriage and divorce [previous non-existent for Hindus] besides addressing issues including forced conversions. The Hindu Marriage Bill 2016 was tabled before the Pakistan National Assembly by Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael and was passed unanimously. -goTop


29. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: RSS sahsarkaryavaha Bhagaiah ji is on a tour to USA and Canada; Ravi Kumar, Sahsamyojak Vishwa Vibhag is touring Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan; Shyam Parande, secretary Sewa International, returned Bharat after his tour of Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and USA. Visitors:

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: In oneself lies the whole world and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either the key or the door to open, except yourself. - Jiddu Krishnamurti -goTop





Michel Danino

Indian history presents us with a delightful irony. On the one hand, most schools and colleges teach it in such offputting manner, with stale textbooks full of howlers, that most students come to hate the topic and happily erase it all from their memories the day after the exam. And on the other hand, Indian history seems to be alive and well, if we judge by the numerous historical debates that have filled the public space, from the Aryan theory to the Ayodhya issue, from the record of Aurangzeb or Tipu Sultan to pinning down the responsibility for the Partition, from "terrorism" in the Freedom Movement to Subhash Chandra Bose's ultimate fate. That such "debates" are conducted more often through mud-slinging, if not demonization, than in a mature and civilized manner is another matter.

We also have a colourful range of scholars: At one end of the spectrum, some, dreaming of Puranic scales of time, are tempted to take Indian history millions of years into the past (or at least many thousands more than archaeology would permit), to visualize vimanas and other advanced technological devices from earliest times, and to imagine ancient India as a perfect golden age. And at the other end, scholars claiming to practise "scientific" history produce, instead, a brand heavily inflected by ill-suited imported ideologies and models, leave alone factual and methodological flaws. In between, are numerous solid, unprejudiced and meticulous historians who are passionate about the discipline; unfortunately, the wider public rarely gets to hear about them as the media can't get desired sound bites from them.

Is this scene unique to India?

By no means. Because history is at the root of the identity individuals, communities and nations choose to give themselves, it has immense bearing on current situations, and no nation escapes historical controversies. Did the Hebrews migrate from Egypt to Palestine as described in the biblical Exodus? Can the French nation be said to have been created by Joan of Arc? Did the "American holocaust" of Native Americans by the Spanish, Portuguese and British wipe out 100 million lives, as asserted by some scholars? Did the nations that declared their "neutrality" during World War II end up helping the Nazis? Did Stalin’s rule of the USSR result in some 60 million deaths? Is there firm evidence for the genocide of Armenians in 1915 by Turkey? Was Tibet ever an integral part of China, as the latter proclaims? Could the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been avoided?

Such questions can rarely be answered with a fair degree of certainty. Yet it is the job of history to try and answer. What is history, then? A few days ago, I was amused to read that Pakistan's Sindh Minister for Culture, Tourism and Antiquities demanded that Ashutosh Gowariker, director of the newly released film Mohenjo Daro apologize to the Sindhi people for "distorting historical facts and making a mockery of the 5000-year-old highly developed [Harappan] culture and civilization." I have not watched the film, which does seem to have taken some liberties, but did not expect an avowed piece of fiction and entertainment to be taken so seriously.

It is interesting to note in passing that many Indians feel similarly connected to the Indus civilization, many of whose sites are located on this side of the international border. Even such a crude example illustrates sharply enough how history - or protohistory, in this case - remains alive in sensitive ways and is intertwined with questions of national identity.

Yet "history is the lie commonly agreed upon," in Voltaire's opinion, which is hardly an optimistic definition. Two hundred years later, the U.S. historians Will and Ariel Durant were a little more explicit: "Our knowledge of any past event is always incomplete, probably inaccurate, beclouded by ambivalent evidence and biased historians, and perhaps distorted by our own patriotic or religious partisanship. Most history is guessing, and the rest is prejudice." An honest statement, but still not too hopeful. If, as the British historian E.H. Carr wrote, history is "an unending dialogue ... between the society of today and the society of yesterday," is such a dialogue possible at all when the data it is built upon is so deficient?

In India's case, Tagore, in an insightful essay titled "The History of Bharatavarsha", bitterly complained in 1903, "Our real ties are with the Bharatavarsha that lies outside our textbooks. . It appears as if we are nobody in India; as if those who came from outside alone matter.” He was echoed in 1942 by the scholar and statesman K M Munshi: "Most of our histories of India ... deal with certain events and periods not from the Indian point of view, but from that of some source to which they are partial and which by its very nature is loaded against India."

That, of course, was a reference to colonial histories written by the colonial masters. Has the situation much improved? Can we claim that we now have an "Indian perspective" on Indian history?

Today, sober-minded Indologists and historians look at India as a civilization rather than a nation in the modern sense of the term; they ask when and how it emerged, and how it managed to integrate the myriad cultures of the subcontinent into one recognizable whole maintaining its original diversity. They query the social, political and administrative systems it evolved, its cultural developments, its myriad ethnic and linguistic units, and its interface with other cultures and civilizations. Despite yawning gaps in the archaeological, epigraphic, literary and economic records, a picture does emerge.

For a perspective of India to be successful, it should, in my opinion, build a sense of identity and belonging to a stream of civilization. But aren't there many "ideas of India"? I propose to explore this question in later articles.

(Michel Danino is author of The Lost River: On the Trail of the Sarasvati and Indian Culture and India's Future. He teaches at IIT Gandhinagar. The New Indian Express, 24 September 2016) -goTop

Shri Vishwa Niketan