Nationhood comes from common sense of history, vision of future: NSA

TNN Bureau. Updated: 4/11/2024 2:30:30 AM Front Page

NEW DELHI: Nationhood is constituted by people who share a “common sense of their history” and a “common vision of their future”, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval said as he released an 11-volume book series that charts different phases of the history of ancient India and its accomplishments.
Addressing a gathering at the launch event here on Tuesday, the NSA said, “People who have got a different sense of history, ‘if my hero is your villain’, you and I cannot make a nation.”
Describing India as a “civilisation of antiquity” and “civilisation of continuity” spanning thousands of years, Doval also said that it was a “paradox” that the narrative that has been brought is that probably, “the first chapter about Indian history in any western, this thing… Is that it starts with Alexander”.
After releasing the series ‘History of Ancient India’, published by Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) and Aryan Books, he said it consists of scholarly papers contributed by a “large body of scholars”.
Vol I of the series, which covers a vast array of fields, is titled ‘Prehistoric Roots’ while Vol IX is on ‘Science and Technology, Medicine’.
Doval said while discussing the project during its inception phase several years ago with S Gurumurthy, VIF chairperson, he had shared the “new idea and thinking” to contribute to something that would be able to give a “new sense of identity and pride, not only to our countrymen but also to our coming generations”.
“Our self-image, our identity is deeply connected to your own perception of history, and… Perception of what you are,” the NSA said.
He described the series as not an end, but a “means to an end”, and the end objective is to build “a nation on the basis of a sense of common heritage, of common background from which we come from, having pride in our ancestry and achievements of the past, and having a vision for the future”.
Earlier in his speech, Doval said nations or members of nationhood are “those people who share a common sense of their history, common sense of our ancestors, common sense of their achievements of their past, and a common vision of their future. All those who believe in that they make one nation. People who have got a different sense of history, ‘if my hero is your villain’, you and I cannot make a nation”.
He said the research papers are of “very high quality” and “great references” have been quoted.
There are a few aspects about Indian history that nobody questions, including “our detractors”, he said.
“One is its antiquity, that it is one of the oldest civilisations, and probably a human life had evolved, and society had perfected to a very high (level). Now, who did it? Were they the original people or they came from outside?
“There may be a bias about that but they will all say that this is a civilisation of antiquity. The second is its continuity. It has been continuing for thousands of years without disruption. And, the third feature, its vast expanse, where the footprint of the civilisation was very visible,” he added.
On Alexander’s connection with India, Doval cited William Jones and said that he was a big Sanskrit scholar who said that “nowhere in Sanskrit or Pali or Prakrit literature or local dialects, he could find any mention of Alexander”. There is “no mention”, the NSA added.
It was a “non-event, it was a very small event of history” where some raiders on horseback, probably wanted to plunder, but faced resistance and returned.
“But you make such a mountain of it as if the world history has changed with Alexander the great conqueror,” he said.
Foreign domination was “responsible to some extent” for the feeling of nationhood not developing, he said.
Then, there was a deliberate attempt to “destroy” the vestiges of the proof of that. Now, it’s not only the temple, the religious bigotry. But institutions like Nalanda or Taxila universities, or the libraries, etc., were the “prime targets”, they had to be destroyed and any sources from where Indians could connect themselves to their glorious past, he added.
But, there was another reason — Indians’ mindset. “For us events and personalities were very secondary,” Doval said.
“Now, this combination of these factors deprived us of our own existence and identity. And history is important for your identity,” he said.
Doval said anything that scholars have quoted or any inference drawn in this work is based on a “solid, scientific foundation”.
“When we started the project, we said, let it be totally authentic, we don’t want to generate propaganda material. The foundation of such kind of intellectualism does not have a long shelf life,” he said.
The volume is “bulky and expensive” and so its dissemination is a bit constrained.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was presented this work and told about it, and it has found “a place of prominence in his library”.
The prime minister suggested that these can be donated to libraries and that idea is still there.
The NSA further said “may be we probably will accomplish” it and send it to various western and eastern universities. The people associated with the upcoming maritime museum in Lothal, Gujarat have also shown interest in this, he said.


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