National seminar on Indian Nationalism

This three-day National Seminar was co-organized by IFIH and the Sri Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath Samskrita Siksha Samsad (SSSOSSS), and co-sponsored by the INDIAN COUNCIL OF PHILOSOPHICAL RESEARCH (ICPR), INDIAN INSTITUTE OF ADVANCED STUDY, Shimla (IIAS), and INDIAN COUNCIL OF HISTORICAL RESEARCH, ICHR. It was held on 23-25 February 2003 at Jadavpur University Campus, Kolkata. The central theme of Indian Nationalism was treated from historical, cultural, scriptural, traditional as well as educational viewpoints, and this provided a rich variety of presentations as well as debates.

The inaugural session started with a welcome address delivered in Sanskrit by Dr. Dhyanesh Narayan Chakraborty (former Professor of Sanskrit, Rabindra Bharati University). Shri Michel Danino (convener, IFIH) gave a brief introduction to the background and purpose of the seminar, its organizers and sponsors. Prof. M.G.S. Narayanan (Chairman, ICHR) delivered the inaugural address, “India — a Nation or a Civilization?” This was followed by the keynote address by Prof. Kireet Joshi (Chairman, ICPR) on the theme of the seminar.

The inaugural session then welcomed and honoured the well-known historian, Prof. Haridas Mukherjee. A few highlights of his contribution to the study of Indian Nationalism, and that of his late wife Prof. Uma Mukherjee, were read out by Sri Nirmal Nahar. Prof. Haridas Mukherjee, accepting a shawl and copper plate from Prof. Kireet Joshi, spoke in reply on the early Nationalists and their ideal which is yet to be realized in Independent India
(photo on the left, with a section of the audience).

Prof. Ramaranjan Mukherji (former Vice-Chancellor, Universities of Burdwan & Rabindra-Bharati, and President of the SSSOSSS) delivered the presidential address, “Indian Nationalism : Ideal & Growth”. A rare recording of Bande Mataram by Dilip Kumar Roy was then played, followed by a vote of thanks by Dr. Gopal Mitra (Vice-President, SSSOSSS).


There were eight academic sessions spread over three days. The presentations may be broadly categorized in the following four groups :


Cultural and spiritual roots of Indian Nationalism


“Beginnings of the process of Nationalism in ancient India” by Prof. Devendra Swarup (historian & former Professor of History, Delhi University)


The Swadharma of Bharat’s nationhood” by Prof. S. K. Chabraborty (Management Centre for Human Values, Indian Institute of Management – Calcutta)


“The Hindu concept of ‘Rashtra’ ” Shri P. Parameswaran (President, Vivekananda Kendra)


“Indian Nationalism contrasted with Western Nationalism in principle and in history” by Smt. Renu Malhotra (environmentalist & educationist, U.S.A.)


“Indian Nationalism – a desideratum for World Peace” by Prof. Dhyanesh Narayan Chakrabarti (former Professor of Sanskrit, Rabindra Bharati University)




Historical manifestations of Indian Nationalism


Philosophy of Indian nationalism – the empirical backdrop” by Prof. Meenakshi Jain (historian & Professor, Delhi University)




“Concept of Nationalism in Bankim Chandra’s novels” by Prof. Debranjan Mukherjee (former Professor of Bengali, University of Burdwan)




“Swami Vivekananda — exponent of Indian Nationalism in modern context” by Sushri Nivedita (Vice-President, Vivekananda Kendra)




“Sri Aurobindo : Indian Nationalism in Action and Principle” by Shri Michel Danino




Cultural manifestations of Indian Nationalism


“Nation and Cinema – Bombay Talkies” by Dr. Lalit Joshi (Reader in History, Allahabad University)




Indian Nationalism and recent academic narratives


“Rashtra vs. Nation — a Foundational Difference” by Prof. Kapil Kapoor (Professor of English literature and Sanskrit, Jawaharlal Nehru University)




Interrogating Indian post-Nationalism: culture, citizenship, and global futures” by Prof. Makarand Paranjape (Professor of English, Jawaharlal Nehru University)




“Indian Nationalism, internationalism & globalization” by Justice A. M. Bhattacharjee (former Chief Justice, Calcutta & Bombay High Courts, and Visiting Professor at several Universities)




“Contemporary Discourse on Nationalism and Sri Aurobindo” by Prof. Chandrakala Padia (Professor of Political Science, Banaras Hindu University)




“The ‘Crisis’ in Nationalism and India” by Dr. A. K. Singh (professor and head, Smt. S. H. Gardi Institute of English and Comparative Literary Studies, Saurashtra University)




“Indian and Western concepts of Nationalism” by Shri S. Gurumurthy (economist and columnist)




“Nationalism and the debate on fundamentalism” by Prof. Jean-François Mayer (Lecturer in religious studies, University of Fribourg, Switzerland)




“Ethnicity: a ploy to divide nations” by Prof. Bharat Gupt (Associate Professor of English, University of Delhi)



Session presidents Dr. Vachaspati Upadhyaya (Vice-Chancellor, Shri Lal Bahadur Rashtriya Vidyapitha, New Delhi), Dr. Amalendu De (President, Asiatic Society of India, Kolkata), Justice Sushanta Chatterjee (former Chief Justice, Orissa High Court), Prof. Pradyot Kumar Mukhopadhyaya (Professor of Philosophy, Jadavpur University), Dr. Satyabrata Shastri (former Professor of Sanskrit, University of Delhi), also spoke on various cultural aspects of Indian Nationalism.

Concluding session (25 February afternoon)

Shri M. Pramod Kumar (ex IIT-Madras) spoke on “How to make Nationalist values inspiring to Students”, and Ms. Chitwan Jaipuria (ex University of Boston) on “The inadequacies of the Indian school curriculum.” Those two young speakers exposed the failures of the current educational system to promote national culture and values, and listed a number of practical suggestions to remedy this abnormal situation. A lively debate followed with questions and comments from the audience, which included a number of students.

Shri Michel Danino then presented a summary of the main lines covered by the Seminar, and suggested that a working paper prepared based on some of the suggestions made especially during this last session. Prof. Ramaranjan Mukherji gave the concluding address. This was followed by a vote of thanks by Dr. Suresh Kumar Banerji (Secretary of the SSSOSSS).

Throughout the seminar’s ten sessions, the attendance — ranging from 100 to 250 people consisting of scholars, teachers and students, cultural exponents etc. — took active part in the question-and-answer sessions that followed every paper.

In addition, a cultural programme was organized on 24 February evening at the Children’s Little Theatre (Aban Mahal). It included the projection of the film The Genius of India and a dance recital of Gita Govindam by Dr. Mohua Mukherjee.

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