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India not a civic nation, but a civilisation state: JNU V-C

Updated on May 21, 2022 01:00 AM IST

Pandit said that premier universities such as Delhi University and JNU could debate existing narratives and bring in new Indic narratives.

File photo of JNU vice-chancellor (VC) Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit(HT Photo)
BySadia Akhtar

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) vice-chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit on Friday said that India was a “civilisation state” and should not be reduced to a civic nation bound by the Constitution. She said that the idea of a country was “not only a geopolitical concept but a civilisation concept”.

“Reducing India to a civic nation bound by a Constitution disregards its history, ancient heritage, culture and civilisation. I would place India as a civilisation state. There are only two civilisation states that have a tradition with modernity, a realm with the region, and change with continuity. Those two states are India and China,” said Pandit, while speaking on the second day of a three-day seminar organised by Delhi University’s political science department on the theme “Revisiting the Ideas of India from ‘Swaraj’ to ‘New India’”.

Pandit said that premier universities such as Delhi University and JNU could debate existing narratives and bring in new Indic narratives. Referring to historian EH Carr who said “facts are sacred and interpretation can vary”, Pandit said that universities in independent India had overturned the dictum.

“Unfortunately, independent India, and to a certain extent the university I belonged to, overturned this dictum. Interpretations are sacred and facts can vary and this is very dangerous,” she said. Pandit said that Indians were made to imagine history with self-loathing, self-hatred, and a land of the conquered and defeated. She said that “one period had been excessively glorified” whereas the Cholas that had ruled in India for thousands of years had not been given enough recognition.

“The Cholas ruled for 2,000 years but is there any mention or any roads named after the great kings of Cholas? Not one in Delhi… There is a huge bias, agenda-setting that needs revisiting,” said Pandit. She noted that the Cholas conquered through culture, trade, and commerce, and not through genocide, murder and rape, emphasising India’s contribution towards multiculturalism.

“Indian cultural nationalism is on a path that is very different from that of the Abrahamic religions. Indian civilization celebrates development, democracy, diversity, difference and dissent,” said Pandit.

Talking about the “imperfections in western feminism”, Pandit said that “feminists were not perfect” while Sita and Drapaudi were the first feminists. She said Indians needed to get back to their own civilisation instead of picking up western ideas. “Western feminism is very primitive. They were picking up stones when we were already a great civilization,” said Pandit. “Universities have become factories of western imitation. There is no originality,” she said.

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