Skip to main content

Converting Nehru Museum into Modi propaganda spot is "anachronistic, inappropriate, unjustified": Top scholars

Gopalkrishna Gandhi
By Our Representative
Well known public personalities and scholars Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Girish Karnad, Romila Thapar, and Ananya Vajpeyi have strongly protested against the plan to convert the prestigious Nehru Museum in Delhi into a “Museum of Governance”, and "to repurpose it to broadcast the activities of the current government".
They have demanded "public debate involving historians, conservationists, educationists, cultural decision-makers and other stakeholders" before any changes are "authorized to one of our most valued institutions of higher learning."
Gopalkrishna Gandhi is grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and a reputed ex-civil servant, Girish Karnad is a top theatre personality, Romila Thapar is India's foremost historian, and Ananya Vajpeyi is a well known social scientist.
"While the government has every resource at its disposal should it want to build a Museum of Governance and use such an institution to display its own achievements, the Nehru Museum was never meant to be anything other than a museum dedicated to India’s first Prime Minister, his life and his times", a statement issued by them says.
Pointing out that the "Nehru Memorial Museum and Library bears the name of Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), a political leader, intellectual, lawyer, thinker and author who became India’s first Prime Minister", the statement underlines, "Imposing these varied concepts on what was and remains Jawaharlal Nehru’s prime ministerial residence from India’s Independence until his death is, from the perspective of both history and aesthetics, anachronistic, inappropriate and unjustified".
The Nehru Museum, located in the former Prime Minister’s residence on the precincts has been known as repository of the years he spent living in that house, which was also the period immediately following India’s independence from British rule, and the first phase of the nation’s life as a new republic.
Nehru lived and worked from Teen Murti for close to two decades, and his residence is full of memorabilia connected with his person, with the office of the Prime Minister, and with the history of post-colonial India until the mid-1960s.
The scholars say, "The Nehru Museum like all museums deserves and requires periodic conservation, renovation and modernization." However, disturbingly the news about changing it come when "an eminent conservation architect has been appointed to attend to this museum and a sum of Rs10 crore has been set aside for this task".
The scholars say, "All around the world, houses of significant political leaders and politician-intellectuals have been converted into museums and memorials open to the public, and these act as excellent spaces in which to educate a wider citizenry about the modern history and political life of whichever country they might be located in. The Nehru Museum has exactly such a mandate and function. It must be allowed to fulfill its purpose."
Instead of converting Nehru Museum, the statement says, the Government of India has enough resources at its disposal to build other museums in order to showcase “governance”, “space research”, “smart cities”, the Mars Mission "or whatever other idea that the Ministry of Culture has evolved during its deliberations and which it deems worthy of a separate museum for display, memorialization and public pedagogy."
Pointing towards the importance of the museum for scholars, the statement says, "The Nehru Library has been and continues to be the country’s premier research library for modern history and the social sciences. It houses the papers of a range of writers, political leaders and significant scholars belonging to the founding generations".
Further: "It also has an eclectic collection of institutional papers. Its holdings are non-partisan and reflect the broad swathe of political ideologies and schools of thought that have existed and flourished in nationalist–era and independent India. The Library, unlike the Museum, is in no way limited to Nehru’s papers, Nehru’s writings or scholarship that might be described as Nehruvian”.
The statement wonders why are "ministers, spokespersons and special appointees of the current administration making statements to the press suggesting that the Nehru Library is focused on Nehru alone? This is patently false. Students, researchers and scholars working on a spectrum of topics in the history of modern India, from anti-colonial movements to communism to the world wars to Hindu nationalism to state and regional politics to Gandhian studies to non-alignment, all need to consult the books, papers, microfilms, newspapers, archival materials and journals that are housed in the Nehru Library. This has been the case from the very inception of the library."
Demanding that the Nehru Museum's "essential task, standing and autonomy must not be impaired or distorted", the statement says, they fear that the Museum's "role and repute are endangered by the sorts of irresponsible statements emanating from some sections of the government".

Comments

TRENDING

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Gender budgeting? Govt of India allocates just 2.1%, 0.73% for SC, ST women

By Rajiv Shah
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), one of the most influential all-India Dalit rights networks, has taken strong exception to the manner in which the Government of India has undermined Gender Responsive Budgeting in the Union Budget 2019-20 for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), pointing towards “wide gaps” between the goals and the situational reality of “the Dalit and Adivasi women on the ground.”

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah
Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.