Ministry of Culture constituted committee courts controversy

Shyamhari Chakra

The expert committee set up by the Ministry of Culture for conducting holistic study of origin and evolution of Indian culture over a period of 12000 years has evoked sharp criticism over its exclusion of representatives of minorities and women.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel stated that “an expert committee has been set up for conducting holistic study of origin and evolution of Indian culture to since 12000 years before present and its interface with other cultures of the world” as per the release by the Press Information Bureau.

The 16-member Committee comprise K.N. Dikshit, Chairman, Indian Archaeological Society, New Delhi and former Joint Director General, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI); Dr. R.S. Bisht, former Joint Director General, ASI; Dr B.R. Mani, former Director General, National Museum, New Delhi and former Additional Director General of the ASI; Prof. Santosh Shukla from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; Dr. Ramesh Kumar Pandey, Vice Chancellor, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi and Prof. Makkhan Lal, Director, Delhi Institute of Heritage Management.

It also includes Dr. G.N. Srivastava, former Additional Director General, Geographical Survey of India; Justice Dr. Mukundkam Sharma, Chancellor, Lal Bahadur Shastri Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Delhi and former Judge of Supreme Court of India; Prof. P.N. Shastri, Vice Chancellor, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi; Prof. R.C. Sharma, Head, Department of Linguistics, University of Delhi; Prof. K.K. Mishra, Dean, Anthropology, University of Hyderabad and former Director, Anthropological Survey of India; Dr. Balram Shukla, Department of Sanskrit, University of Delhi; Prof. Azad Kaushik, Scientist and International Thinker, Canada and Pt. M.R. Sharma, Chairman, “Sangmarg” World Brahmin Federation, India, New Delhi.

The two other members are the representative from Ministry of Culture and the ASI, the release revealed.

The Minister’s information has aroused criticism from leaders, celebrities and the common people from various sections of the society who have started airing their disappointment on social media.

DMK leader and MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi has asked, “Why there is 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 has tweeted in Tamil.

Celebrated singer TM Krishna has tweeted, “This committee constituted by the Govt of India to study Indian Culture is proof of its bigoted, casteist, patriarchal nature. Culture is where the most damage is being done. We are ignoring it at our own peril.”

Another tweet by Kavitha Muralidharan, as reported in the media, has remarked, “No woman but there is world Brahmin association president. Which culture will they write about?”