Welcome Remarks by Dr Arvind Gupta, Director VIF on the book Release and Discussion Nationalism in the Study of Ancient Indian History & Towards a Nationalist Narrative of India's Ancient Past: Including Recent Research on the Indus Civilization authored

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to today’s event at which we are releasing Prof Dilip Chakrabarti two latest books "Nationalism in the Study of Ancient Indian History & Towards a Nationalist Narrative of India's Ancient Past: Including Recent Research on the Indus Civilization".

We are grateful to Sh S Gurumurthy for agreeing to release these books. Sh Gurumurthy needs no introduction. He is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the VIF, independent director of RBI, the editor of the Tamil weekly Thuglak. He is a thought leader, a renowned economist and chartered accountant. A staunch nationalist, he is the author of Random Thoughts in which he presents a 360 degree critique of the present global situation and the implications for India.

Sh Dilip Chakrabarti is the editor of the VIF’s 11-volume series History of Ancient India published by Aryan Books International. He is emeritus Prof of South Asian archaeology at Cambridge University. He has taught at Calcutta, Delhi and Visva Bharti University. He has archeologically surveyed the Kangra valley, Chota Nagpur Plateau, the whole of the Ganga Yamuna plain and the Haryana Punjab area. He has authored 31 books and edited about a dozen more. He was honoured with Padma Shree in 2019 for his distinguished contributions in the field of Indian history and archaeology.

The two books being released today tackle a very important theme, that of the bane of history writing in contemporary India. As is becoming increasingly clear, history writing in post independent India, dominated by left liberal colonial outlook, has deliberately ignored the nationalistic strand. This was done for political purposes. A highly distorted version of history, coloured by colonial imperative, was presented. The continuity of the Indian civilisation and the cultural unity of its people was underplayed despite the evidence to the contrary. A narrative was built that there was nothing of significance in India. All that India had was the outcome of contribution of the outsides. The influence of the external factor was exaggerated at the expense of the indigenous achievements. India’s significant contribution toward ‘Thought and Culture’ was underplayed. A sense of inferiority complex amongst Indians was deliberately inculcated. Voices of nationalism were suppressed.

Dr Chakrabarti’s books expose the pernicious agenda of the left liberal ideologies, which have dominated Indian history writing.

There is a crying need to write a history of India and the people from an Indian perspective, without in anyway, distorting facts or evidence.

Swami Vivekananda, speaking to group of young men in 1891 had exhorted the Indians to write “accurate sympathetic and soul inspiring” history of the land. Tagore, speaking in a similar vein in 1903, had blamed the Indians themselves for their lethargy and ‘imitating’ others and not looking at “Bharatvarsha from Bharatvarsha’s own perspectives”. He criticized the prevalent tendency to regard the past as a “bankrupt time”. A large number of historians in the late nineteenth century including Bhandarkar, Altekar, KP Jayaswal, RK Mookerjee and many etc undertook fresh studies to write history from Indian view point. Unfortunately, these impulses were grounded and snuffed out in independent India. New archaeological findings were deliberately ignored.

As Dr Chakrabarti notes in his book, there were voices of dissent and dissatisfaction at the prevailing state of affairs. Dr Ram Manohar Lohia speaking in Indian Parliament in 1966 lamented the “diseased historiography” that was responsible for the current state of Indian history writing. The then Education Minister MC Chagla even decided to set up a committee of distinguished scholars for “rewriting of Indian history from the point of view of India”. Unfortunately, the committee never took off. Instead, several institutions were set up by the left-liberal establishment. They wrote text books giving a highly selective, biased and distorted version of Indian history.

Dr Chakrabarti’s books and articles are a great effort to not only expose the political agendas but also to set the stage for a fresh look on writing of Indian history based on new discoveries, evidence and insights.

We also congratulate Aryan Books International for publishing these books. Mr Rajan Arya has been a steady partner of the VIF over the last several years, having brought out eight volumes of History of Ancient India series.

I request Sh S Gurumurthy Ji to formally release the books.

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