Focus on Indian civilisation
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Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: Focussing on creating awareness in civil society about recent archaeological and historical researches and to promote understanding and relevance of Indian civilization in modern times, a seminar, “How deep are the roots of Indian civilization? An archaeological and historical perspective” was inaugurated by Ministry of Culture Secretary Jawahar Sircar here on Thursday. Organised by Draupadi Trust in collaboration with knowledge partners Archaeological Survey of India and Indian Archaeological Society and hosted by the Vivekananda International Foundation, the three-day-long seminar will include presentations by renowned scholars and archaeologists from India and abroad.

Mr. Sircar stressed the importance of a “serious study on the subject of antiquity of Indian civilisation” and urged scholars to base their research on rational, not emotional basis. He inaugurated an exhibition- “Draupadi: Shashakt- Rupa Rupeshwari”- depicting the life of Draupadi as a woman of substance.

Delivering the keynote address, former ASI Director-General Prof. B. B. Lal spoke about “postulates [that] have been distorting our vision of India's past”. Among these is the belief that the Vedas are no older than 1200 B.C. and that Vedic people were nomads. Recent excavations at sites in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat and a fresh study of Vedic texts, he said, have proved that most of these postulates are “ill- founded.”

According to Prof. Lal, these excavations proved that the Rigveda is older than 2,000 BC and people of this civilisation were not nomads. Quashing the “Aryan invasion theory” he said that the Harappan civilisation did not become extinct, and C-14 dating procedures proved that Harappan and Vedic people were indigenous, not invaders or migrants.

Thursday's session focussed on the life and practices of Harappan and Vedic civilisations with presentations on scientific findings of the drainage system in north-west India with regard to river Saraswati by Central Arid Zone Research Institute's Dr. J. R. Sharma and Indian Space Research Organisation scientist Dr. Bidyut Bhadra; the geographic identification and significance of Sapta Sindhu by California State University Professor Dr. Shiva Bajpai; Harappan town planning and water harvesting by former ASI Joint Director-General Dr. R. S. Bisht; continuum in town planning and metrology in Harappan in classical India by Coimbatore scholar Dr. Michel Danino and a comparative study of the middle Asian intercultural space and the Indus civilisation by University of Bologne (Italy) Professor Maurizio Tosi. Also present was Shah Abdul Latif University (Pakistan) Vice-Chancellor Dr. Nilofar Shaikh.

Draupadi Trust Chairperson Neera Misra spoke about the need for a “holistic approach to development” and knowledge of one's civilisation being an important part of development of a nation.

Published in The Hindu dated 26 November 2010

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