Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma recent remarks had created controversies. He spoke to HT on several issues including teaching Hindu epics in schools, correcting history after disclosure on Netaji and why consulting RSS was not wrong. Excerpts:
Why should Ramayana, Mahabharata and Gita be part of school education? Why not Bible and Quran?
Bible and Quran are purely religious books. Ramayana, Mahabharata and Gita do not prescribe to any religion. Supreme Court had also said that Hinduism was a way of life and not a religion. But I feel that the good things of Bible and Quran should also be taught.
Why is there so much emphasis on Ramayana? Why did you decide to build a Ram Museum in Ayodhya which is already in the midst of a ‘Ramjanambhoomi‘ controversy and the issue is also sub-judice?
It is absolutely wrong to say that we have our focus only on Ramayana. We have a Buddha circuit, Sufi circuit and even a Jain circuit. As far as Ram Museum is concerned, there can be no other better place than Ayodhya.
There is a charge on the culture ministry that it is trying to change history.
History cannot be changed. We can only see if there is a need for corrections or clarifications. From time to time all this should be analysed.
What do you have to say on the recent controversies that you have been linked with?
All the controversies started with Nehru Memorial. They were all fleshed out from a single interview. I was giving my views in the broader concept of difference in our and western culture. But I never said that cultural rules should be imposed on anyone. Even on Abdul Kalam controversy, I had simply given my response to a question on whether all roads on the name of Muslims should be re-named. I had said that Kalamji was a Muslim, he was a nationalist and he was a humanitarian.