CPIM Lok Sabha MP Su Venkatesan on Monday demanded that a committee formed by the Union Government to study the country's culture be dissolved as it lacked diversity in its members. The Parliamentarian who represents Madurai questioned if this committee had been formed to represent 'epics' as history and to ignore the works of researchers.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Venkatesan said, "A 16 member committee has been formed to study Indian culture and its growth, according to the Culture minister. There is no diversity in this committee. There are no South Indians, North East Indians, minorities, women or Dalits in this committee. There are only upper caste men. But there is a head of a caste group here. Is there no India below the Vindhyas?"
He further pointed out that the upper caste members would not be able to unearth the true culture of the country.
"Other than what the Vedas teach is there no other way of life? Is there no other language but Sanskrit? The findings of several researchers, from Punit Kumar Chatterjee, Iravadham Mahadevan and Tony Joseph to R Balakrishnan,have been ignored. Has this committee been formed to depict epics as history? Just like you can't see the roots under the soil from an aeroplane, those who are high in the caste hierarchy can't write about the culture of this country. So this committee should be dissolved," he demanded.
The 16-member committee has among others K N Dikshit, Chairman, Indian Archaeological Society, New Delhi and former Joint Director General, Archaeological Survey of India as its members.
Critics had earlier pointed out that the committee did not have any women and was 'packed' with north Indians, with little representation of south Indians.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP Kanimozhi was amongst the first leaders to speak on the issue.
"Why is there not even a single member from the minority community in the expert committee to conduct a study on Indian culture. Can’t minorities and Dalits speak about Indian culture? Or are they ineligible?" she had asked.
Su Venkatesan, well-known Tamil author and MP from Madurai, speaking in the Lok Sabha on the narrowly-constituted panel to study Indian culture pic.twitter.com/5geY12FZO9— Tony Joseph (@tjoseph0010) September 21, 2020
Former Karnataka Chief Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy had demanded that the Union government reconstitute the committee.
"It is very unfortunate that the expert committee does not have any Kannadigas or South Indians who know the Dravidian culture. The committee does not even have a woman member," Kumaraswamy tweeted.
"There are doubts about the objectiveness of the proposed study as the committee is full of those who appear to be having prejudices over culture, history and heritage besides being fully occupied by north Indians. There is a dire need to reconstitute the study committee," he added.