Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said historians had reduced the history of India to a “struggle for power, succession wars and violence related to it” but ignored the crucial issue of how the people had dealt with those “tumultuous times”.
Mr. Modi, who is here on a two-day visit, rededicated three recently restored iconic colonial buildings — Currency Building, built in 1833, Metcalfe Hall and Belvedere House — to the people.
Speaking at an event at Currency Building, Mr. Modi quoted from an essay written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1903 to press the point that “politics is transient” and the real history of a civilisation was reflected through its art and culture.
“Some people came from outside... fathers, sons and brothers turned upon each other for power, and struggle for succession continued. This is not the history of India… I am not saying this, Gurudev said this,” Mr. Modi said.
During his 20-minute speech, the Prime Minister said the Centre wanted to highlight India’s cultural resources before the world with a “new vibrancy” and form so that the country became a big centre of heritage tourism in the world.
“Heritage tourism will play a big role in promoting tourism in India, including in West Bengal. It will generate new employment opportunities,” Mr. Modi said.
Pointing out that India had tried to preserve its own heritage buildings, he said efforts had been made at the same time to modernise these structures.
“With this thought, the Central government is renovating historic buildings. Starting from Kolkata, such buildings in Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Varanasi will be renovated so that they can have new galleries and house new exhibitions, and can be a venue for theatre, drama or music concert,” he said.
The Prime Minister announced that five museums in the country, including Kolkata’s Indian Museum, would be converted into “iconic museums” of international standards. Underlining the need for maintenance and management of heritage buildings, Mr. Modi spoke about the establishment of an Indian Institute of Heritage Conservation. Giving the institution a deemed university status is being considered, he said.
The Prime Minister, who also officially reopened two galleries in the Victoria Memorial that has been shut for a long time, proposed that a gallery at Victoria Memorial should have a place for the freedom movement in Bengal.
“A museum called Biplabi Bharat will be made, in which Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Aurobindo Ghosh, Deshbandhu Chittaranjan, Binay-Badal-Binesh, and all great soldiers of freedom struggle should get some place,” he added.
He inaugurated a light-and-sound show on the iconic Howrah Bridge at Millennium Park on the bank of the Hooghly.
Mr. Modi was joined by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the event.
Later in the evening, the Prime Minister went to Belur, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission.
He is scheduled to participate in an event to mark sesquicentenary celebrations of Kolkata Port Trust on Sunday.