Why is there no woman, dalit, minority or anyone from the South in the Centre’s ‘culture’ committee ?    

Are Indians listening?

The media have played a major role in undermining our Parliament. Barring the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV channels, which too are now far more politically tilted than before, neither newspapers nor TV channels amplify the saner and sensible voices within Parliament. With the presiding officers switching the cameras of LSTV and RSTV ‘off ’ and muting members, the message that goes out is seldom comprehensive. And private TV channels, which endlessly take feed from the national broadcaster, LSTV and RSTV to air PM’s speeches, have neither the willingness nor the time to devote an hour every evening to air what MPs actually said.

Social media’s far more limited reach is used by MP’s to circulate what they said. But many of the interventions made in regional languages never reach a national audience because of the indifference of the media.

A short intervention by S. Venkatesan, Tamil author and MP from Madurai, in the Lok Sabha this week was something that every Indian should have heard. It exposed the Government’s limited knowledge and interest in culture and was a scathing criticism of the manner in which it constituted a panel to study Indian culture.

The committee, the MP pointed out, does not have a single member from South India, Northeast India, Minorities, Dalits or Women. All are upper caste Hindu men. It has no linguistic expert from southern classical languages, but has caste organisation heads as members!

“Is there no other civilisation apart from the Vedic? Are there no ancient languages other than Sanskrit? You cannot see the roots that reach deep into the soil by flying overhead in a plane. Likewise, the true culture of this soil cannot be written by people who are placed at the top of the caste hierarchy. So, I submit that this committee be dissolved,” he said.

Pointing out that the ’16-man committee’comprises only of upper caste Hindu men, the MP wondered, “Has this committee been formed only to reject the findings of scholars starting from John Marshall to Suniti Chatterjee down to Iravatam Mahadevan, Tony Joseph and R Balakrishnan & to merely establish the puranas as history?”

Are Indians listening?

Shyamala Ravindran

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