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Editorial
Aah! Taj
Project to saffronise monuments, heroes, history is sinister and violates India's plural ethos
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After the disappearance of Tajmahal, one of the seven wonders of the world and one which fetches India the maximum number of foreign tourists, from the tourism map of Uttar Pradesh, the state's minister in charge of religious affairs and culture, Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary, advocated for replacing the white marble wonder with Guru Gorakhnath peeth. The episode bares the Hindutva agenda of the government where every symbol of syncretic culture and the glorious past of the Mughal era is being consciously diluted to superimpose it with essentially Hindu culture and present it as the sole epitome of nationalism. Chaudhary left no one in doubt when he said that keeping out the Taj Mahal was necessary because the current government in Uttar Pradesh is "rashtravadi " and runs on "dharm niti (religious policy)". This is not only an attempt to undermine the significance of one of the most famed historic monuments in the world, which has become an icon for India just like the great pyramids are for Egypt and Eiffel tower and Palace of Versailles is for Paris. It also perpetuates a seriously flawed and dangerous argument in a country that is plural and secular and endangers both the secular fabric of the country and its secular pride. Given the defence of the move and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath's resolve to build a grand statue of Hindu mythological god, Lord Rama , in Ayodhya while reserving no cultural heritage funds in the state's budgetary allocations for the Taj this year, it is clear that keeping Taj Mahal out of the tourism booklet is not a case of ignorance and complacency but one that is inspired by religious prejudice. Some months ago, Adityanath had proclaimed that Ramayana and Mahabharata depict Indian culture, not Taj Mahal. Obviously, the UP government is making all out attempts to dilute the significance of Taj, by neither spending on its upkeep and promotion and by striking it off the tourist map, only because it was built by the Mughal emperor.

The move is in consonance with the moves afoot by various state governments headed by BJP across the country to impose Hindu symbols and Hindu icons for replacing ones that are revered and held in high esteem by almost all segments of the society. Across the country, the project of revising and rewriting history with a religious tilt is already going on in full swing by negating and overlooking not just the plurality of the country but also its tryst with liberal values and secular ethos. Nehru and Gandhi are being cut down to size to super-impose them with the likes of Veer Savarkar and Deen Dayal Upadhya who had no role to play in the Indian freedom struggle, other than bowing before the tyranny of the British colonial empire. The history revisionism project does not place any reliance on historical evidence. Now this latest move to wish away monuments erected by Muslim rulers, starting shockingly from Taj Mahal, is neither rooted in a sense of history nor the economics that is related to such places of tourist value. Already, lack of promotion of Taj in recent years and threat to it due to environmental pollution has seen a steady decline in the number of tourists. A foolish attempt to dilute its significance and replace it with an idol of Rama or the Gorakhpur Temple, which have little or negligible value in the world tourism market, will both deleteriously impact the secular image of the country and its economy related to tourism. India's national heroes and national monuments are collective symbols of pride for every community of the country nor for selective communities. They reflect the country's inherent appreciation of secular values and its syncretic traditions. These cannot be replaced by parochial values and parochial sense of pride invoked by the ideologues of a hate-soaked philosophy. Such attempts must be opposed tooth and nail.


News Updated at : Thursday, October 12, 2017
 
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