Diversity, plurality and tolerance are “core values of our civilisation”: President Pranab Mukherjee’s statement at Rashtrapati Bhavan – New Delhi

In those moments when questions emerge about the fragility of the state’s constitutional principles — over what has transpired since the Dadri lynching and the killing of Kannada scholar M.M. Kalburgi, for example — it is incumbent on high constitutional functionaries to rise to the occasion and seek to answer them. These incidents have triggered a response from India’s intellectuals who have earned recognition, with a string of litterateurs returning their Sahitya Akademi awards, concerned about the silence of the august body over rising intolerance. […]

It is in this context that President Pranab Mukherjee’s statement a week ago at Rashtrapati Bhavan, where he underlined the need to retain diversity, plurality and tolerance as the core values of our civilisation, came as a balm. The President later re-stated those sentiments on foreign soil – in Israel, speaking to politicians in the Jewish state, suggesting that “religion should not be a basis for a state”. […]

Secularism is a bedrock of India’s Constitution, and what needs to be debated is the means to achieve the separation of religion and the state. […]

Source: “Take the cue from the President” – The Hindu, October 16, 2015
Address: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/take-the-cue-from-the-president/article7766516.ece
Date visited: 24 November 2020

[I]t was by reading and speaking to Tagore that these founders of modern India, Gandhi and Nehru, developed a theory of nationalism that was inclusive rather than exclusive. Tagore’s [collected lectures on the subject of] Nationalism should be mandatory reading in today’s climate of xenophobia, sectarianism, violence and intolerance.

Source: Ramachandra Guha, Introduction to the 2017 Penguin ed. of Nationalism by Rabindranath Tagore
URL: https://www.worldcat.org/title/nationalism/oclc/1099200491
Date visited: 24 November 2020

The Keeladi excavations may alter the world’s ideas about the earliest Indians. But progress hasn’t been smooth for one of the country’s most sensational archaeological projects. It was a coconut thief who helped discover southern India’s most controversial ancient settlement. […]

Urban settlements are typically considered to be markers of how advanced a society is. The dominant view is that diverse technological innovations were necessary for the existence of settled communities. Until Keeladi was discovered, archaeologists by and large believed that the Gangetic plains in the north urbanised significantly earlier than Tamil Nadu.

Historians have often claimed that large-scale town life in India first developed in the Greater Magadha region of the Gangetic basin. This was during the ‘second urbanisation’ phase, believed to have begun around the mid-first millennium BCE. (The ‘first urbanisation phase’ refers to the rise of the Harappan or Indus Valley Civilisation, lasting from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE.)

In recent years, the results of any new research on early India have invited keen political interest, because proponents of Hindu nationalism support the notion of Vedic culture––including the Sanskrit language, a pastoral economy dependent on cattle, and the origins of a caste hierarchy––as fundamental to the origins of Indian civilisation.

But the IVC [Indus Valley Civilisation] is a pre-Vedic culture. A long, contentious debate on whether Vedic culture originated in what is now Indian territory or was the result of complex patterns of migration and settlements has, so far, thrown up little evidence of the former. The Keeladi excavations further challenge the idea of a single fountainhead of Indian life. They indicate the possibility that the earliest identity that can recognisably be considered ‘Indian’ might not have originated in North India. […]

Archaeological practice in India is conducted by various bodies, but the central government is at the apex of the hierarchy. Any application for an excavation licence— whether it is to be conducted by the ASI, a state archaeology department or a university—has to be submitted to the Indian government for evaluation by a standing committee of the Central Advisory Board of Archaeology. […]

In popular media, the findings are likely to be reduced to the question of whether the Keeladi people were more like Aryans, the protagonists of Vedic civilisation, or Dravidians, the forebears of Tamil culture. […]

The idea of the IVC as an isolated proto-historic civilisation began to be challenged [after India’s independence]. Archaeologists began making connections between the IVC and later early historic settlements.

In essence, the research suggested that the Harappan civilisation was not some mysterious forgotten society. It was part of a larger cultural milieu that survived its demise. “There were Harappan sites in the north and west,” Lahiri wrote, “and a plethora of other cultures—some contemporary with the Harappan and others following its demise—in areas across western and central India as also in the Deccan.”

Source: “The Dig: The Keeladi excavations may alter the world’s ideas about the earliest Indians” by Sowmiya Ashok (Fiftytwo.in, 2 April 2021)
URL: https://fiftytwo.in/story/the-dig/
Date visited: 26 April 2021

Members of Sidi (Sidhi) community performing during the 21st World Adivasi Day
Photo credit © The Hindu | Full report >>

Urging the Union and all State governments to protect the constitutional rights of the tribal people, members of the tribal and indigenous communities passed a resolution listing out their various demands at Ramanagaram on Sunday.

The Karnataka Adivasi Rakshana Parishad, a tribal welfare organisation, had organised a meet of tribals near the Government College on Bengaluru-Mysuru highway in the town in connection with 21st World Adivasi Day.

Members of 50 tribal communities from across the State, owing allegiance to the parishad, attended the meet. […]

The State government should honour the achievers in the tribal communities with ‘Adivasi Siri’ award and constitute a board/corporation for the welfare of tribal people, was one of their demands. The others included launch of special schemes to uplift the primitive tribes ‘Jenu Kuruba’ and ‘Koraga’, announcing support price for forest goods, and construction of ‘Adivasi Bhavan’ in all the taluks and district centres.

The meet also urged the Union government to accord the status of ‘Primitive Tribe’ to Chenchu (residing in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), Irular (Tamil Nadu), Kathodi/Kathakari (Gujarat and Maharashtra), Kattunayakan (Kerala and Tamil Nadu), Thoda (Tamil Nadu) and some other tribes. […]

Cultural programme

Members of the Siddi [Sidhi], Jodugatte Irulaiga, Pardi, Malekudiya and some other communities mesmerised the audience with their scintillating performances of various forms of art. […]

Professor K.M. Metry of Hampi Kannada University and parishad president M. Krishnaiah were among those present.

Source: “Tribal people demand protection of their rights” by M.T. Shiva Kumar, The Hindu, Ramanagaram (The Hindu, 10 August 2015)
Address: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/tribal-people-demand-protection-of-their-rights/article7520388.ece
Date visited: 24 November 2020

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India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. It has achieved all-round socio-economic progress since Independence. As the 7th largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity. Bounded by the Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west.

Source: States and Union Territories – About India
URL: https://knowindia.india.gov.in/states-uts/
Date visited: 4 September 2021

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