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
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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.