Tony Abbott – Australian Prime Minister returns the idol to India 

India’s Past, Present and Future
What is the Indian education’s contribution?
It is a big question and a very tough one. A question worth asking.

Tony Abbott, Narendra ModiDo we all know India’s past? I am of the view that Indians of this generation at least know only vaguely about India’s past history. That too in a much distorted way, Ifeel. Why do I think so?Because, India all through its 2,000 years of history had been a country of invasions and occupations, from the times of Alexander the Great. As we see, after Buddha and Ashoka India didn’t produce any great civilization.

Why, not any one thinker who left,backs any transformative thought or thought processes or actions or achievements? This is, unlikethe Western countries and civilizations, the Greeks and Romans, and also the 15th and 16th centuries of the Italian Renaissance.Oh,even afterwards, in the West, in the rise of science and philosophy, we don’t have any such comparable developments here.When we come to the modern period in history we don’t have any modern impact of thought like European Enlightenment.European Enlightenment bypassed India completely.

The coming of the Christian missionaries only was under the British Imperialism’s own agenda to subdue and suffocate with alien religions and also to tell us how inferior we were. This is Thomas Babington Macaulay’s mission, right?Macaulay was completely ignorant of Indian history, India’s own civilization and thought processes.We have only to read Max Muller’s lecture to the ICS probationers; all were British whiteyoung men only.The stirring words of Max Muller are still enervating. His Cambridge lectures of 1882- India: What it can teach us? The other two lectures were on Character of the Hindus (Human interest of Sanskrit literature) and the other was Vedic culture,exclusive on the religion of the Veda. All are,if I can say so, very relevant today!

I wonder how many of the Hindutva ideologues today are at home with these thoughts.
If they are then fine, if not then I feel sorry for the state of our awareness today.The other thought that flash through my mind right now is the series of lectures by Ananda K.Kumarasamy,The Dance of Shiva.

Right now, there are news, the latest one I read in the London, The Guardian newspaper is about the series of thefts and recovery of the Indian 11th century idols, bronze ones, of Nataraja and other devil idols stolen from the South Indian temples, mostly from Tamil Nadu.The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, returned one such stolen Nataraja idol to Indian Prime Minister,Narendra Modi recently.

There is a full-time idol-theft police squad in Tamil Nadu government. The Guardian article notes: “The idol squad never idles!”. Yes,this idol theft is active on an international scale. Their job is to recover the lost ones. How awake are we, Indians about it?The thought ran through me.

Why these precious idols are sought after and that too after so many centuries?
It is a proof that India had such unprecedented artistic wealth.It is only the ignorant and a bit not so civilized British conquerors didn’t find anything worthwhile in India, ascivilization or other higher thoughts like the Rig-Veda.Why, even when the British were very much settled down, theduo, uncle and nephew, Thomas and William Daniels came here to India and travelled through the continent and drew the finest sketches of the Indian temples (pagodas) and other scenes. Their earliest drawings are now the most priced and sought after aquatints. That also shows that India really had been a great civilized nation and the Indian art and craft skills were really legendary.

So too the Indian textiles, the Dacca muslins and other dyed fabrics.The only thing to become aware of is that the conquering Brits are too uncivilized and too cunning(see Robert Clive’s life and role) to have any sense of civilized conduct.

The point I want to make here is that, we Indians ourselves,didn’t fully understand Indian past historyfor the simple reason, in my considered opinion, is that owing to India getting cut off from the global currents, first the Mughals and then the British. They came in and they obstructedthe flow of knowledge about the outside world.The British education, the so-called Macaulay education straight went to make Indians clerks for the Raj. The British themselves absorbed the values of the Greek and Roman thought and their forms of government as Democracy,Republic,Senate and the very many social hierarchies like Patricians and plebeians and hence those societies had an orderly evolution. In India, we only had periodic famines, poverty and disease and that is one reason that the Indian population too remained reduced.

It was only after very long period of time, may be in the 19th century, in the late 1980s,we started to have agriculture research,canals,railways and much else and with the result that in one century, i.e. nineteenth, Indian population almost quadrupled.

Now, coming to the present situation.We have had 60 odd years of freedom and democracy.Yet,thecountryhasn’t overcome its legendary lethargy.There is a sense of helplessness,the political parties reflect this lethargy of the people.There is no new release of energy i.e. creative energy.

We have been a nation, a people who migrate for outside labour.First as coolies and now as techno coolies.I am not one enamored by this rather foolish sense of obsession with the Indian diaspora. It is time we become ourselves.India has to first find its own value system in the light of the outside world developments.India is not America.

The USA is,in my view, is a rich and at the same time, highlymaterialistic and a brutal society. Violence there is on the enormous scale. Their family values,theirpolice, their prisoner population all make me uncomfortable.I feel as an Indian, a more compassionate and tolerant sort of person.So too China or Russia.

We have to be basically Indian, Indian ethos must inform ourpolitics, economics and sociology. China is a fine country, much we have in common in social and family values.Yet, we are a democracy,China is a one party system.

Coming to India’s future! Here we can have various scenarios.Those intellectuals settled abroad might have one view. I,living here,have my own scenario.India must become an international country, we have to care for the global issues. We have to become a peace-loving nation,people,we have to work for disarmament,nucleardisarmament.We need many civil society movements to shed many of our superstitions and social disabilities.

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