ICC Note: India’s government has appointed a committee to prove that Hindus are the direct decedents of India’s first inhabitants. The revision of history has many religious minorities afraid that it will encourage radical Hindu nationalists to make India a Hindu only nation. Since the current government took power in 2014, attacks on religious minorities has skyrocketed.
03/09/2018 India (Sydney Morning Herald) – During the first week of January last year, a group of Indian scholars gathered in a white bungalow on a leafy boulevard in central Delhi. The focus of their discussion: how to rewrite the history of the nation.
The government of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi had quietly appointed the committee of scholars about six months earlier. Details of its existence are reported here for the first time.
Minutes of the meeting and interviews with committee members set out its aims: to use evidence such as archaeological finds and DNA to prove that today’s Hindus are directly descended from the land’s first inhabitants many thousands of years ago, and make the case that ancient Hindu scriptures are fact not myth.
The ambitions of Hindu nationalists now, it seems, extend beyond holding political power in this nation of 1.3 billion people with a kaleidoscope of religions. They want ultimately to reshape the national identity to match their religious views, that India is a nation of and for Hindus.
In doing so, they are challenging a more multicultural narrative that has dominated since the time of British rule, that India is a tapestry born of migrations, invasions and conversions. That view is rooted in demographic, archaeological and linguistic fact. While most Indians are Hindus, Muslims and people of other faiths account for some 240 million, or a fifth, of the populace.
The committee’s chairman, K.N. Dikshit said, “I have been asked to present a report that will help the government rewrite certain aspects of ancient history.”
The committee’s creator, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, confirmed in an interview that the group’s work was part of larger plans to revise India’s history.
For interviews with William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: email@example.com