Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Sunday said that mythological text such as Ramayana and Mahabharata should be taught in schools as literature and not religious texts. He was at a conference on ‘Cultures of New India’ at Shri Ramswaroop Memorial University in Lucknow, speaking about his new book ‘An Era of Darkness’. He emphasised that if one teaches Shakespeare in schools, one should not deprive students from reading Kalidasa’s work too.
The value of indigenous, ancient jewels should not be forgotten while appreciating global art, was the message by Tharoor. He said that the ancient texts like Ramayana and Mahabharata should be used to heal religious divide.
Shakespeare is taught in many schools in India despite being a British legacy, according to him. The omission of an indigenous maestro like Kalidasa from curriculum would be depriving the young generation of a part of their culture and identity, he added.
He also spoke of India’s ‘real’ history in book’s talk which was about British Colonialism in India. He said that if we do not introduce ancient Indian texts into education then many fanatical factions in the society get leverage to promote their distorted history.
“Historically, India has been quite advanced in the fields of engineering and medicine too. Ayurveda and Aryabhatta’s contribution to mathematics are some of the well-documented and proven aspects of our ancient prowess in these fields,” he said.
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He commented on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ways to gloss over the contributions of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister. He said Nehru had fielded serious challenges of a fledgeling economy and democracy and still was able to accomplish many things.
To make his point he quoted, “ISRO’s latest feat of having launched 104 satellites in one go is, indeed, a testimony to the strong scientific foundation laid down by Nehru.” He also added excerpt from a speech by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who, acknowledged Nehru’s achievements in glowing terms.