IIT-Kharagpur calendar calls Aryan invasion a myth

Claims made in calendar came in for severe criticism from writers.

December 29, 2021 08:01 pm | Updated December 30, 2021 03:36 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Prof. Joy Sen, chairperson, Centre of Excellence for Indian Knowledge Systems, IIT-Kharagpur. Photo: iitkgp.ac.in/department/KS

Prof. Joy Sen, chairperson, Centre of Excellence for Indian Knowledge Systems, IIT-Kharagpur. Photo: iitkgp.ac.in/department/KS

The Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur’s 2022 calendar on the theme of “evidence” for “rebutting the Aryan invasion myth”, which caused a controversy when it became public last week, was “just the tip of the iceberg”, with scholars abroad planning to hold workshops on the topic, according to the professor behind the calendar’s concept.

The calendar, titled “Recovery of the Foundations of Indian Knowledge Systems”, covers the topics of “recognition of the secret of the Vedas” and “reinterpretation of the Indus Valley Civilisation”, apart from the portion on the ‘Aryan invasion’.

The claims made in the calendar came in for severe criticism on social media from writers and those who have been engaged with the issue. Author of the book Early Indians Tony Joseph commented on Twitter on December 26 about “the distressing transformation of centres of excellence”. He cited the 2019 genetic study ‘The Formation of Human Populations in South & Central Asia’ which, he stated, was an example of the “strong, multi-disciplinary evidence for migration of Central Asian Steppe pastoralists into the Indian subcontinent between 2,000 and 1,500 BCE”.

‘Bringing out the truth’

Brought out by the IIT’s Centre of Excellence for Indian Knowledge Systems, which was inaugurated by Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on December 18, the calendar was aimed at “bringing out the truth”, said Professor Joy Sen, chairperson of the Centre who is credited for “concept and research” of the calendar.

Professor Sen, a professor of the Department of Architecture and Regional Planning at IIT-Kgp, chalked up the criticism of the calendar on social media to those “conditioned in the old ways”. In fact, in a lecture uploaded on YouTube in 2019, he gave his argument for what he called the “Aryan invasion that never was”.

Speaking to The Hindu on Wednesday, he stated, “Within 72 hours, we received 1,000 emails about the calendar, of which 800 were positive, 100 were positive and negative, asking us to change something, and about 60-70 were caustic, which shows their colonial hangover… Actually, when you talk against things, you make them more popular.”

He stressed that younger people were reaching out to express interest in the calendar, for which orders had been received from “the Bay Area [San Francisco] to Japan”. “Overseas scholars are planning workshops on it,” he stated.

According to Professor Sen, the wrong information in textbooks had “destroyed pillars of national confidence”. “The people with a real scientific bent of mind have appreciated the calendar. There will always be an uncle in the family who is conditioned in the old ways who will have a problem,” he observed.

Names of advisory team on it

The calendar carries the names of the advisory team that guided its making. It includes IIT-Kgp director Virendra Kumar Tewari, All-India Council for Technical Education chairman Anil D. Sahasrabuddhe and Sanjeev Sanyal, Principal Economic Adviser in the Ministry of Finance.

The pages of different months are dedicated to the Indus and Brahmaputra rivers; reincarnation, eons of time; cosmic symmetry; and explanation of the “Aryan invasion myth”.

Then Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank had announced the setting up of the centre for Indian knowledge systems at IIT-Kgp on November 6, 2020. The centre’s website says it was set up for inter-disciplinary research on Indian history; advanced archaeological exploration; Indian language systems, aesthetics systems and systems of geometry and mathematics; and Indian systems of welfare economics and planning, among others. Professor Sen is listed as the only faculty member on the website.

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