It pains me when West encroaches upon our culture: Mahesh Sharma

India has witnessed Western encroachment of our culture to the extent that if we talk about our culture then the so-called intellectuals call it saffronisation, says Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma.

Written by Pragya Kaushika | Published:September 11, 2015 3:07 am
Mahesh sharma, cultural pollution, Mahesh sharma comment,  cultural pollution debate, Mahesh sharma cultural pollution, indian express, latest news Mahesh sharma

You spoke about cultural pollution. What were you referring to as ‘pollution’?

India has witnessed Western encroachment of our culture to the extent that if we talk about our culture then the so-called intellectuals call it saffronisation. It pains me. Our country’s strength has been our rich heritage and culture, and it pains me when the West encroaches upon it. I am not saying that we should reject the good that the West offers, but our culture should prosper along with it.

Can you cite one example of this ‘pollution’ that you’re speaking about?

Suppose, we teach in Hindi and say ‘G for Ganesh’, then we become ‘non-seculars’ and are blamed for saffronisation. But if we say ‘G for Gadha’, then we are secular. This is not fair. We have to preserve and promote our culture. If our friends in other political parties call us saffron, then let the people of this country, who gave us the mandate knowing what the BJP stands for, answer them.

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There is much debate about how this government is trying to ‘saffronise’ the curriculum. How do you counter this charge?

If I talk about Ramayana, Mahabharta and Geeta as curriculum, they (other political parties) are hurt. Now, a story has come about the Nehru Memorial Library. We are revamping it. What is wrong in that?

The charge is that you are changing the idea of the place.

We have 39 organisations under us. As a minister, I have every right to revamp and upgrade every institution. Revamping does not mean we will change their ideology. These institutions have to be brought in line with the expectations of the new generation. As part of policy, we have to upgrade and update them. We are even upgrading the Gandhi Smriti Darshan with a budget of Rs 7.5 crore. I don’t understand what is troubling the Congress president and the party’s leaders when we are making them (the institutions) better.

What do you think is the idea of the Nehru Library, which you are revamping?

It has three objectives — to carry the legacy of Nehru and his family, to give prominence to the people who contributed to the modern history of India and finally to acknowledge all those who fought for the freedom of this country. Should I believe that only one person brought freedom to this country? Many others contributed too, but have been erased from the history. We are acknowledging them.

What are your views on Western and English education?

I am not against English. All I am submitting is that if the Japanese, the French and the Russians can read their history in their respective languages, why can’t we do the same in Hindi? Today, you give an option of reading German to students, but it should not be at the cost of our own language. Students should learn everything but not at the cost of Sanskrit or Hindi. This is what I consider encroachment of my culture by the West.

You have backed appointing RSS nominees to government organisations.

Are the RSS people not the people of this country? If they are competent, why shouldn’t they get the posts? I have been with the RSS for the past 40 years of my life. Have you ever heard about the RSS being involved in anti-national activities or in corruption? So, if they give suggestions to the government then what is so wrong about that? We seek their guidance. Their views are nationalistic.

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    Rajiv Pande
    May 23, 2016 at 11:24 pm
    67 yrs of westernization has put a fear in our hearts, that we must give up our own language and culture if we are to survive in this world. it's a dependency foisterd on us by the first PM who himself was more comfortable with English than his own language. In India, only Bangalis are proud of their language and culture.
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    1. P
      Prion
      Sep 15, 2015 at 11:42 am
      Enlightenment is "Suppose, we teach in Hindi and say ‘G for Ganesh’, then we become ‘non-seculars’ and are blamed for saffronisation. But if we say ‘G for Gadha’, then we are secular. This is not fair. We have to preserve and promote our culture. If our friends in other political parties call us saffron, then let the people of this country, who gave us the mandate knowing what the BJP stands for" This notion against Western beliefs with a twisted interpretation of Indian culture will doom us all.
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        Akhil
        Sep 16, 2015 at 5:47 pm
        I am sure Dr Sharma would have studied his medicine in Sanskrit. He could have pursued Ayurveda and could have become the best Ayurveda doctor, but no sir, he studied "Western" Medicine and makes his living off it. That is what enabled him to enter politics. Talk about hypocrisy.
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        Anonymous
        Sep 12, 2015 at 12:19 am
        I just think that it was hilarious when I searched for this story online, on another site (not this one), they had the story on the left, and a picture of Sunny Leone on the right, a link to some article about her, LOL! THAT's irony, right there! :) I hope he's not going to ban *her*, or her *image* or her videos, or ban the internet itself....? :) That would make *me* and LOTS of Indians (many of them BJP voters) VERY unhappy!
        Reply
        1. J
          Jayagopal
          Sep 25, 2015 at 5:39 pm
          Yeah, he is already imposing the foreign origin Islamic origin language of stan, Hindi which is nicely hiding in Sanskrit script. The proxy ministers Mahesh Sharma and Rajnath, along with Proxy Muslim Prime minister of India Narendra Modi should first speak in Indian languages, not just the Islamic origin language Hindi before doing stupid sermons in the Islamic language alone.
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          1. N
            Nidhi Mehta
            Sep 13, 2015 at 2:14 pm
            Hopefully it's his Personal opinion and not party line. I agree we should not forget our culture in our efforts to develop but that doesn't mean we need these regressive opinions forced on us and our liberty and freedom at stake just because BJP was voted into power. Please do not misuse your power and put such outdated curbs that by the next election we have a Pappu as PM.
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              Parth
              Sep 12, 2015 at 1:27 pm
              This guy has a discernible lack of understanding about his job. I am typing this with extreme self restraint. Mahesh Sharma, as a voter who has supported you, you have been a phenomenal disappointment in this interview.
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                Anonymous
                Sep 14, 2015 at 9:43 am
                Minister sir, North-east has 200 languages and South India has clical languages as ancient as Sanskrit. Other linguistic states are proud of their rich languages. Why do you only refer to Sanskrit & Hindi as Indian. Since you are the minister of culture for w of India can you please be more culturally sensitive & inclusive
                Reply
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