Indian culture, kitchen-made

Culture minister Mahesh Sharma has codified Indian culture.

By Pheroze L. Vincent
  • Published 11.09.15

New Delhi, Sept. 10: Culture minister Mahesh Sharma has codified Indian culture.

"I have seven points which can help you understand what Indian culture is," he told reporters here today. He cited only five.

"Three generations cooking in the same kitchen and eating on the same table; the relationship between parents and children and the respect they have for each other; the emotions Indians have for each other and the relationships they respect..." Sharma said.

"My (Indian) values and books should be read before you read novels. Before youth go to gain wisdom from Thailand, Dubai and Singapore, they must gain wisdom from our own museums and heritage."

He added: "These points, according to me, (define) Indian culture. You can say I am conservative."

Asked what the two other points were, he said he would explain that later.

Sharma said his government was committed to "defending Indian culture from encroachment by western culture".

He attributed this commitment to the mandate the electorate had given the BJP and its ideological guide, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

"If at all saffronisation has been done, it has been done by the 125 crore people of the country who gave us a huge mandate. They knew what is RSS, what is BJP. They have given us a mandate to run the country," Sharma said.

Of the 55.4 crore people who had voted in last year's general election, 17.2 crore people voted for the BJP.

Sharma said the culture and education ministers of BJP-ruled states and the Centre had planned to meet at least twice a year. One of their aims, he revealed, was to "prevent the encroachment of western culture on Indian culture".

"Western culture is not bad but it may not be good for us. Here, 15-year-old children don't leave their parents. A 14-year-old girl wanting a night out maybe all right elsewhere but not in India," he said.

"When there have been attacks on our values and our curriculum, previous governments have not given due care to this."

After a recent meeting with the Sangh, Sharma had sought to end "cultural pollution" by revamping 39 institutions that receive funding, including the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and the National School of Drama.

Sharma had said the revamp included the promotion of Sanskrit and rewriting of history books.

Today, he said the government would create a "cultural bureaucracy" to run these institutions.

"An IAS officer may not feel comfortable in cultural institutions, which may not be his cup of tea. We will develop a bureaucratic system to take care of these institutions," Sharma said.

"Our museums and libraries should serve some purpose for the common man."

He cited an example, saying he had asked officials at the Nehru Memorial to increase the size of the signage, which he had found too small to read, on the display panels for documents and pictures.

Sharma distributed documents relating to the appointment of Nehru Memorial director Mahesh Rangarajan, a Delhi University professor, being made permanent by the caretaker UPA government on May 19 last year, after the election results had handed the alliance a defeat.

"This was unethical and we are examining if it is illegal. I have no complaints against Rangarajan. I have released these documents to tell Sonia Gandhi that she cannot question this government after the illegalities her party has done."

The Congress had recently condemned reported attempts to remodel the Nehru Memorial as a "museum of governance", fearing a move to change the institution's character.

"Currently there are no plans to remove or retain anyone," Sharma said. "Maybe we will not remove this person (Rangarajan). If the Congress had not reacted the way it did, I would not need to say anything."