eBook | “That pride must never allow us to forget our many weakness and failings or blunt our longing to be rid of them” (Jawaharlal Nehru): Museums in the service of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace: International Museum Day (18 May)


In his book, The Discovery of India, Nehru wrote, long before 1947, about the difficulties regarding uniting people with diverse languages, religions and cultural values. At the same time, as a historian, he could sketch the unifying forces which connected India right from the Ashokan period to pre-Independence India. His grasp of Buddhist philosophy and his admiration of the agnostic aspects of the Hindu religion from the earliest Upanishada is evident. He was also fully aware of the dark phases of India’s history, and its weakness, as well as its great achievements.

“We are citizens of no mean country and we are proud of the land of our birth, of our people, our culture and traditions,” he said. “That pride must never allow us to forget our many weakness and failings or blunt our longing to be rid of them.”

I was given the task of enshrining Nehru’s ideas, values and his times in a museum-pavilion in the Pragati Maidan, near the Hall of Nations which was built to celebrate the 25th year of Independence.

Source: Commentary by Raj Rewal in the Indian Express (15 November 2018)
URL: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/jawaharlal-nehru-birth-anniversary-the-discovery-of-india-5446894/
Date visited: 8 March 2021

Source: Singing Gandhi’s India: Music and Sonic Nationalism by Lakshmi Subramanian
Date transcribed: 29 August 2022

We have all known Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation, a lawyer, a social reformer, a leader and the messiah of non-violence who helped India achieve Independence. But have we ever thought the role music played in his life?

His absolute and uncompromising commitment to carry all communities together in crafting a utopian society is still relevant these days, especially as we live in cynical times when everything is about mobilising opinion for narrow gains and presenting one’s identity in the most superficial and orchestrated manner.’

Source: Historian Lakshmi Subramanian, professor at the Humanities and Social Sciences department, BITS Pilani (Goa), interviewed by Rajkumarisharma Tankha, The New Indian Express, 31 January 2020
URL: https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2020/jan/31/singing-gandhis-india-exploring-the-role-of-music-in-gandhis-life-2096814.html
Date Visited: 29 August 2022

He suggested that only true accommodation and friendship were ways out for resolving the apparently irreconcilable – and occasionally unjust – demands, but any acceptance of an encroachment on vital aspects of religious practice was not permissible. Like many Gandhian statements, it was ambivalent and contradictory with potential for endless misunderstandings and misinterpretation. […]

Neither music, nor prayer, nor fasting was able to heal the scars of a wounded civilization or to arrest its fall into an abyss of communal hatred, caste exclusion and political opportunism.

Historian Lakshmi Subramanian in Singing Gandhi’s India: Music and Sonic Nationalism (New Delhi: Roli Books 2020), pp. 115 & 189
URL: https://www.worldcat.org/title/1139768131

The objective of International Museum Day (IMD) is to raise awareness about the fact that, “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” Organised on 18 May each year or around this date, the events and activities planned to celebrate International Museum Day can last a day, a weekend or an entire week. IMD was celebrated for the first time 40 years ago. All around the world, more and more museums participate in International Museum Day. Last year, more than 37,000 museums participated in the event in about 158 countries and territories.

International Museum Day 2021: “The Future of Museums: Recover and Reimagine”

Source: ICOM| International Museum Day
URL: https://icom.museum/en/our-actions/events/international-museum-day/
Date visited: 8 March 2021

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Jawaharlal Nehru >>
Photo © Indian Express

Nehru was fascinated by the spontaneity of tribal culture and their capacity of joy and heroism in spite of their appalling poverty, destitution, and ignorance. […] In Nehru’s view, the process of modernization must not be taken as forcing a sudden break with the tribals past but help them build upon it and grow by a natural process of evolution.” – Dr. Chittaranjan Mishra in “Tribal Philosophy and Pandit Nehru” (Odisha Review, November 2017) | Learn more >>

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