Doordarshan series on new India’s heritage: Focus on Hindu sites, Savarkar as greatest hero, no women icons

While the first episode looks at sites linked to four yugas, the second part is about the freedom struggle.

WrittenBy:Nikita Singh
Date:
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DD News recently broadcast a two-part documentary on the government’s efforts towards the revival of Indian heritage. The film titled, Dharohar Bharat ki Punaruthaan ki Kahaani, which roughly translates to the story of the resurrection of Indian heritage, visits prominent sites of culture and the freedom struggle. 

The film was aired last week in two 31-minute episodes. Hosting the series, travel influencer Kamya Jani introduced it as a tour of a “new India” which is witnessing a “reconstruction of Indian culture”. 

The film, she said, ought to answer questions on: Who were our ancestors? What is the origin of our culture and traditions? Who were the sung and unsung heroes of freedom? And, how our pride in them is being reinstated? 

Placing Hindu mythology as a monolith around which Indian culture revolves, the first part of the documentary traversed through the four yugas (or ages mentioned in the Hindu texts) and the present-day sites associated with them, which the Modi government has renovated or uplifted – largely concentrated in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

While the scope of the documentary was geographically and sociologically limited, leaving out Dravidian, Adivasi or Muslim influence in the imagination of Indian heritage, it had a few mentions in the latter category. One of them was the Dholavira archaeological site in Gujarat’s Kutch district, associated with the Indus Valley civilisation, and recognised as India’s 40th Unesco World Heritage Site.

Walking through the ruins at Dholavira, Jani lauded Narendra Modi for developing the Kutch region as a tourism hot-spot, particularly during his tenure as the chief minister of Gujarat. “People didn’t know about this place, but as the CM, Narendra Modi took up the responsibility to change the face of Kutch and Dholavira. He developed it as a tourist spot.”    

The second mention was of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor, which allows pilgrims to cross over into Pakistan to visit the site where Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life and wrote some of the chapters of the Guru Granth Sahib. Jani rightly added that it was a long-drawn demand of the Sikh community, ignored for decades at end.   

The first part of the documentary covered the “grand” works of renovations and the “world-class” facilities provided by the government at Somnath and Pavagarh temple in Gujarat; Mahakal temple in Madhya Pradesh; Kashi Vishwanath and Ayodhya temple in Uttar Pradesh and Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand. The film also mentioned the museum on the premises of New Delhi’s Purana Qila that houses idols and artefacts recovered from different countries.  

“Today, the government coffers are not being opened up for religious activities, but for facilities and development, so that the citizens of India get access to facilities, which is their right,” PM Modi is quoted as saying. There may be credit in this statement, but the documentary isn’t completely rid of exaggerations.  

On the aftermath of the 2013 floods in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand, which had left over 6,000 people dead, Jani said, “Log toh ye bhi keh rahe the ki iss mandir ka dubara khada ho paana mukhkil hain.” People even said that resurrecting the temple may be impossible. However, the Kedarnath temple remained unscathed by the floods.         

She added that the demands to restore Kedarnath were completely overlooked in 2013 and only when Modi came to power, the government took up the responsibility. This claim by the BJP has been repeatedly refuted by the Congress, whose members say that the then UPA government had sanctioned Rs 8,000 crore for the redevelopment of Kedarnath.

The second part of the documentary, meanwhile, visited places associated with Indian freedom fighters. Even as the film stressed upon the need to recognise the unsung revolutionaries, it restricted its mentions to a few, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Patel, BR Ambedkar and VD Savarkar. No woman finds a mention in the list.

“Inn balidano mein sabse upar naam hain Veer Savarkar ka,” said Jani, marching at Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ Cellular Jail or Kala Pani, announcing that among the sacrifices that have gone unnoted, the greatest is by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar – the man behind the political ideology of Hindutva. 

The makers of the documentary placed Savarkar and Gandhi as parallels. 

The film also delved into the significance of Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Sabarmati Ashram and the Statue of Unity in Gujarat, Red Fort’s Kranti Mandir, National War Memorial, National Police Memorial and finally the Central Vista in New Delhi.

Yahan par kaam karne wale log kisi par raj nahi karte, balki apna kartavya nibhate hain. Toh fir Delhi ki sabse important aur popular sadak ka naam Rajpath kyun ho?” asked Jani. Those who work here don’t rule anyone, they fulfil their duties. So why should Delhi’s most important and popular road be called Rajpath?

In the final lap, the film teleports to New Delhi’s Kartavya Path, erstwhile Rajpath, the destination for the government’s ambitious Central Vista Redevelopment Project, which will house all the administrative quarters of the central government, which Jani described as the mirror of the “new India”. 

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