Experts in genetics, archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, philosophy and history will prepare a 600-page report on 12,000 years of India’s past through a different lens
India is the sum total of many peoples genetically, historically and linguistically. We are not a “pure breed” and have assimilated progressive ideas from around the world. This is the main conclusion of a forthcoming report on the very idea of India.
Eighty-eight academics from a number of disciplines compile the report to present a ‘different view’ of India. They belong to disciplines such as genetics, archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, philosophy and history.
Scholar and linguist Ganesh Narayan Devy was in the nation’s capital to announce the release of the 600-page report on the past 12,000 years of Indian “civilization and histories”. The announcement was made on October 9, 2022 at the India International Center.
Eminent personalities like Ashok Vajpeyi, Zoya Hasan, Sitaram Yechuri, Narayani Gupta and Ashis Nandy spoke at the event.
Tony Joseph, author of the book Early Indians: The story of Our Ancestors and where we Came From, contributed to the report. “His conclusions are that there is no pure race in India. We are all mixtures of many migrations from the father’s side,” said Devy Down to earth October 8.
The report also concludes that the Islamic and British periods of Indian history are not the “darkness” they are made out to be. The period referred to as the “Muslim regime” was not entirely Muslim. The idea that Muslim rulers only caused damage is wrong, he notes.
Another conclusion of the report was that to say that colonialism caused the intellectual bankruptcy of Indians was only a partial and not a complete view of colonialism.
“Without glorifying the Empire, we have to say that we have assimilated progressive ideas from around the world,” Devy said. He cited the examples of Babasaheb Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel, all of whom were educated in Britain and the United States.
Devy also pointed out that it was at the end of colonial rule that India emerged as a parliamentary democracy from the hodgepodge of feudal princely states it once was.
Yet another discovery concerned Sanskrit.
“Sanskrit, which had taken shape in the southern steppes, began to arrive in India in 1600 BCE. Then it flourished in Vedic poetry from 1400 BC and continued to grow for the next 700 years in its earliest form called Indic,” Devy said.
The 7th century BCE saw the emergence of Buddhism and Jainism and their teachings and liturgy were in languages other than Sanskrit – Pali and Prakrit.
“Based on this timeline, it can certainly be said that other languages existed in India before Sanskrit. When Sanskrit developed, it did not spread throughout India but only in the Gangetic plain “said Devy.
He said that historically significant events for the people of India did not just take place around the Gangetic plain. They also took place in the south, the northeast, the Aravallis, the Vindhyas, etc.
“Another vision of India”
The report will be an analysis of the results of existing research from a different angle.
“It will cover a very large time span, starting with the arrival of Homo sapiens in South Asia and ending with the beginning of the third millennium,” according to a note prepared by the organizers of the event.
The report will discuss continuities as well as discontinuities in India’s past and present insights into population migrations, emergence of social organizations, evolution of the state, development of philosophies and metaphysics.
It will also focus on the diversity of languages, major social movements, the impact of colonialism on Indian ideas and culture, the struggle for freedom and the making of India since independence.
“The report, a work in progress, will bring to life India’s past of over 12,000 years as a union of traditions, transformations and peoples,” the note added.
India since the Holocene: the last twelve millennia of environment, people, life, thought, expression, formations, movements, traditions and transformations will be released in English, Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi and Bengali upon completion.
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