The value of indigenous, ancient jewels should not be forgotten while appreciating the global de rigueur, or this was the message of author and Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor who was in Lucknow on Saturday to deliver a talk on his latest book, “An Era of Darkness” at the International Literary Conference on ‘Cultures of New India’ at Shri Ramswaroop Memorial University. According to him, instead of teaching epics Ramayana and Mahabharata like religious texts, they should be introduced as literature. The wisdom of these ancients texts could be employed to heal religious divides, he added.
Asked whether Shakespeare, the eminent playwright who was symbolic of British legacy, should be taught in school, Tharoor said: “Teach Shakespeare but give equal importance to the works of Sanskrit poet and playwright Kalidasa, who was no less a writer than any other greats of the world.” The omission of an indigenous maestro like Kalidasa from curriculums would be depriving the young generation of a part of their culture and identity, he added.
Tharoor also elaborately spoke about Nehruvian legacy, negative effects of the British Raj and India’s ‘real’ history. He felt that the fanatical faction of the country was attempting to undermine the real accomplishments of ancient India by propagating distorted versions of the history. “Historically, India has been quite advanced in the fields of engineering and medicine too. Ayurveda and Aryabhatta’s contribution to mathematics are some of the well-documented and proven aspects of our ancient prowess in these fields,” he said.
Elaborating on Nehru’s contributions, Tharoor said that in spite of fielding serious challenges of a fledgling economy and democracy, Nehru was able to build upon the older accomplishments. Tharoor chastised the present BJP government for its attempts to gloss over these contributions of the first Prime Minister. “ISRO’s latest feat of having launched 104 satellites in one go is, indeed, a testimony to the strong scientific foundation laid down by Nehru,” he quoted as an example. To make his point, Tharoor recalled a speech by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who, upon the Nehru’s demise in 1964, had acknowledged his efforts and achievements towards building a new India in glowing terms.