Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking why there has been no representation from Tamil Nadu and other southern states in the 16-member expert panel constituted to study the origin and evolution of India’s ancient culture.
The panel has been set up to study “the origin and evolution of Indian culture dating back to around 12,000 years ago”, Union Culture Minister Prahlad Patel had told the Lok Sabha during the ongoing Monsoon Session.
“While it’s welcome move to deepen our understanding of our country’s rich and varied cultural roots, the composition of the committee itself is a matter of deep concern,” wrote Palanisami.
The letter further read that Tamil Nadu has a glorious past and is home to one of the oldest civilisations, viz. Dravidian civilisation – a living and thriving culture in the south of India.
“The recent archaeological excavations in Keezhadi and other parts of Tamil Nadu reveal that the world reputed Sangam era can now be dated back to as early as 6th century BCE. This places Tamil culture and language as one of the oldest surviving languages in the world,” the letter read.
Bringing back PM Modi’s visit to Mahabalipuram in 2019 for the Indi-China informal summit, Edappadi said the PM had observed the awe-inspiring timeless monuments and glorious legacy of Tamil Heritage in full splendour.
He said the PM would agree that any chronicle of Indian history and culture would be grossly incomplete without giving its rightful place to Tamil culture and language.
“It is surprising that the Ministry of Culture has chosen to ignore experts from Tamil Nadu while setting up the said committee. I, therefore, on behalf people of the Tamil Nadu, request you to personally intervene and direct the Ministry of Culture to reconstitute the expert committee by inducting eminent scholars from Tamil Nadu,” he added.
A few days earlier, Madurai MP and writer S U Venkatesan had told the Lok Sabha that the committee constituted by the centre should be dissolved as it “lacked diversity”.
“The panel doesn’t have any representatives from the south, northeast India, minorities, Dalits or women. The panel has representatives only from the upper-caste Hindu community. It has no scholars from southern classical languages, Is there no India below the Vindhyas? Is there no civilization apart from Vedic?” he asked.
The 16-member committee, like in 2016, includes K N Dikshit, Chairman of the Indian Archeological Society; R S Bisht, former joint director-general of the Archaeological Survey of India; B R Mani, former director-general of National Museum, New Delhi; Prof Santosh Shukla, Special Center for Sanskrit Studies, JNU; Ramesh Kumar Pandey, Vice-Chancellor, Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha; Prof P N Shastry, Vice-Chancellor of the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan; and M R Sharma, Chairman of the Sangmarg World Brahmin Federation.
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