Research Activities of the Centre
Comprehension of Indian Mind: We have attempted to convey our understanding of the specifically Indian ways of relating with the Universe through our publication, Bharatiya Chitta Manas and Kala, written by Sri Dharampal, which has been produced in both Hindi and English. In another attempt to understand the expressions of the essential Indian ways in current contexts, we organised a series of talks by the leaders of different sections of Indian opinion to discuss the future polity of India in the light of the Ayodhya events. These talks, along with a detailed essay on the Indian ways of political organisation, have been compiled and published in the form of a book, Ayodhya and the Future India. Both these books of the Centre have been widely noticed.
Annabahulya and Annadana: We have been carrying out intensive research on the classical Indian discipline of growing and sharing food in abundance, in the perspective of currently prevailing scarcity and hunger.
We have compiled information on food production and availability for almost all countries of the world, and thus we have been able to bring to national focus the fact that average Indian consumption of staple foods is among the lowest in the world. This information, along with other relevant statistical information about the agricultural economy of India, has been published in the form of a mimeographed book entitled, Indian Economy and Polity.
On the other hand, we have been able to authentically establish that classical India strongly articulated and faithfully followed a rigorous discipline of growing and sharing food in plenty. We have shown how this discipline has been advocated in all civilizational texts of India, how it continued to be followed in India till the end of the eighteenth century and how the discipline was systematically denigrated and largely broken during the period of British domination in India. The Centre’s work on this subject has been published in the form of a book, Annam Bahu Kurvita: The Indian Discipline of Growing and Sharing Food in Plenty. The book has been published separately in Hindi, English and Tamil.
To discuss this work of the Centre and the Indian discipline of growing and sharing food in plenty, some of the highest teachers of classical learning met in an unusual conference at Sri Tirumala, organised by the Centre in collaboration with the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. In their opinion this work of the Centre is of seminal importance in correctly apprehending the basic attributes of classical Indian thought, and in turning the nation’s attention to the most crucial aspect of national economy and polity. A copy each of the Hindi and English book are enclosed.
Later, in collaboration with the Observer Research Foundation at Delhi, the Centre organised a seminar at the Parliament House Annex to deliberate upon the Indian discipline of growing and sharing food in abundance and the current state of hunger and scarcity. The seminar was inaugurated by the Union Minister for Agriculture, Sri Chaturanan Mishra, and was attended by the high political leaders representing almost all major parties. Those who participated in the seminar included the present prime minister of India, Sri Atal Behari Vajapayee, former prime minister, Sri Chandra Sekhar; and Sri L. K. Advani, Sri Murli Manohar Joshi, Sri G. K. Moopanar, Sri Jitendra Prasada, Sri Pranab Mukherji, Sri D. Raja, Srimati Uma Bharati, Sri K. N. Govindacharya, Sri Nitish Kumar and Sri Ajit Singh, besides many parliamentarians. Held on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of Indian independence, the seminar focused attention on one of the most urgent problems facing the country today, and helped in evolving a consensus on the urgency of the problem.
It is generally believed that the issue of food and agriculture is going to become of central importance in Indian public life in the near future, and through its research work during the year the Centre has probably set the direction in which we shall have to think and act on this issue. The Centre has also begun studying the experience of China, Indonesia and other Asian countries in the matter of food and agriculture. It is hoped that this work shall offer further insights into the importance of the discipline of abundance and sharing.
The Centre has continued to explore the possibilities of making the discipline of growing and sharing food in abundance a matter of national concern and priority. We have been also trying to convince leaders of Indian public life of the importance of initiating large-scale public feeding at a few selected places in India; such public feeding, we believe, would serve as exemplar for the widespread revival of the traditions of sharing.
Exhibition on “Timeless India, Resurgent India: A celebration of the Land and People of India: We have undertaken a major initiative of preparing an exhibition on the essential features of Indian geography, culture, history and economy. Comprising of about 90 large-format panels, the exhibition is divided in several sections. The first and the largest section offers an overview of the extraordinary natural resources that India commands in the form of land, soil, water, sunshine, vegetation, animals and minerals. The second section offers equally compelling overviews of the civilisational resources available to India in the form of deeply engrained social and cultural values of harmonious living and caring for others, on the one hand, and of highly sophisticated technological skills that helped make India a country of extraordinary material wealth through most of her history, on the other. Later sections offer details of a functioning Indian polity of abundance and caring from the eighteenth century Chengalpattu; give a brief picture of the recent history of India; document the growth of science, technology and industry and flourishing of enterprise at different levels in Independent India; and analyse the constraints that are inhibiting India from taking her rightful place as a great, powerful and prosperous nation of the world.
The material of the exhibition has also been published in the form of a book. The exhibition was first displayed during February 2001 at Coimbatore. The Honourable Minister of Human Resource Development and Science and Technology visited the exhibition at Coimbatore and released the book. The exhibition was later displayed in August 2002 at the Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi. The display at Delhi was inaugurated by the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister of India, who, after going through the exhibition, expressed a keen desire that it should be displayed at all district headquarters and efforts should be made to make the children of India aware of the contents of this exhibition. He also wanted that the exhibition should be translated into different Indian languages and rendered into a multi-media presentation.
The Hindi version of the book was published in June 2004. The book was released by Sri Chandra Shekhar, former Prime Minister of India, in the presence of Srimati Uma Bharti, the then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, on June 30, at a function organised at Ravindra Bhawan, Bhopal. The exhibition in Hindi panels was also exhibited at that time in the gallery of Swaraj Bhawan.
During 2001-2005, the English and Hindi versions of the exhibition were taken to at least one city in every state of the country under a programmed undertaken by the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs in collaboration with the Centre. The last exhibition of the English panels was held at the Tamil Nadu Science Centre at Chennai in the last week of July 2004.
We believe that this programme of the Centre shall have a healthy impact on the self-image of Indians, and help in correcting misconceived notions about the essential and supposedly ages-old poverty of India and lack of material and technological skills amongst her people.
4. Chengalpattu Studies: We, in the Centre, have been particularly fortunate in having discovered detailed eighteenth century accounts of about 2,000 localities situated around the city of Chennai, in the region traditionally known as Thondaimandalam. Through our investigations into these accounts we have been able to form a graphic picture of the way Indian society used to organise the diverse activities that are essential to the functioning of any healthy society. This is a striking picture of a society that cared and meticulously provided for all her needs.
We have published detailed eighteenth century accounts of two localities of the Chengalpattu region in the Book Thirupporur and Vadakkuppattu: Eighteenth Century Locality Acounts. The accounts have been presented in the original Tamil script of the Palm-leaf Manuscripts, for which we have gotten special fonts developed, and have been translated into modern Tamil and English. The book also provides an overview of the polity depicted in these accounts. Such detailed accounts of the functioning of indigenous polity just before the onset of the alien British administration are extremely rare to come across. The book, which we have published separately in English and Tamil versions, thus forms a major contribution to the understanding of Indian polity.
We propose to present this picture in its intricate details in a multi-volume work. We also plan to bring out several smaller books describing the eighteenth century life of a number of individual localities, and comparing it with their state today. Meanwhile, we have tried to convey some aspects of what we have understood of the functioning of the pre-British Tamil society in a series of illustrated articles published in the Hindu.
Population Studies: The most significant activity of the Centre during recent years has the publication of the book on “Religious Demography of India” authored by Sri A. P. Joshi, Prof. M. D. Srinivas and Dr. J. K. Bajaj in April 2003. Subsequently, a revised edition of the book incorporating the data of 2001 census has also been published in November 2005.
We have been working on this project since 1998. The project involves a study of the changes in the population of the Indian continent in comparison with other major civilizational regions of the world, and changes in the community profile of people within the continent. For this study, we have collected available census data from the beginning of the census operations in India to 1991. The data for these more than one hundred years has been compiled for every district of Indian Union, as also for the provinces of Pakistan and divisions of Bangladesh. The data provides a fully documented and rare insight into the changing religious profile of the Indian region.
To place this information in the perspective of corresponding changes in other parts of the world, we have also compiled data on the changes that have taken place in the religious profile in the course of the twentieth century for almost all countries of the world. This country-wise data has been further organised into different geopolitical regions and continents of the world to provide a comprehensive picture of the changing religious demography of the world.
The book that was published in 2003, with financial assistance from the Indian Council of Social Science Research, carries a foreword by Sri L. K. Advani, the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister of India. The book was also released by Sri Advani in a functioned organised by the Centre in collaboration with ICSSR on April 20, 2003 at the India International Centre, Delhi. Sri Vasant Sathe, former Union Minister, was the guest of honour at this function, and Mananeeya Sudarshanji was among the audience, along with several high ministers and functionaries of the Government of India. While releasing the book Sri Advani remarked that all works of the Centre have tended to open new ground in a particular field; but this particular book is a landmark in Indian scholarship. Later presiding over the panel discussion on the book, organized in the afternoon, Sri A. R. Nanda, former Director-General of Census, who conducted the 1981 and 1991 censuses, remarked that after the work of Grierson, he has seen the census data being used so exhaustively and with seriousness only in this book. Mr. Nanda also suggested that this work should be continued, and perhaps efforts should be made to collect detailed data on diverse demographic indicators for different communities.
In November 2005, we published a revised and updated version of the original edition published in 2003. The original volume presented the complete census data on the religious demography of India from 1881 to 1991, and rigorously documented the long term trend of extra-ordinary changes in the religious profile of the country. The new edition incorporates the data on religion for the 2001 census that was released in September 2004. The book was released by Paramapujaniya Sarasanghchalakji Ma. Sudarshanji in New Delhi on Novembver 17, 2005.
The 2001 data indicates a distinct spurt in the growth of Christians and Muslims in several parts of India. The changes in the religious profile of the country that have taken place during the last decade, and the previous decade of 1981-1991, are much larger than what was happening in the first three decades following Independence. The changes are especially acute in several strategically important border regions; though, such changes are not confined only to the borders. The magnitude and direction of change seem such as to cause concern about the territorial integrity, unity and tranquility of the nation.
The revised edition looks at the whole time series data from 1881 to 2001 afresh. The discussion of individual states and union territories, especially of the districts where significant changes are occurring, is much more concentrated and detailed. Appendix Tables provide all the new data required for updating the Detailed Tables of the original edition; in addition, new tables providing religion-wise data on growth rates and several socio-economic parameters have been included. The volume includes 33 maps, 100 text-tables and 5 appendix tables. Illustrated presentations on the subject have also been published in Hindi and English separately. These presentations along with several other publications of the Centre are also available in soft format on a CD.
Study of Indian Sciences: Scholars at the Centre have a long-standing interest in the study of Indian tradition of Science. Prof. M. D. Srinivas is a major scholar of Indian astronomy and mathematics. He, with colleagues in the Department of Theoretical Physics of the University of Madras, has shown that the work of 15th century Kerala astronomer, Sri Neelkantha Somayaji, offers a heliocentric model of planetary motion. Through the study of various branches of Indian science, especially, astronomy and medicine scholars at the Centre have been consistently trying to explore the distinguishing features of the classical Indian attitude towards scientific knowledge, and the way this attitude has influenced the objectives and methodology of Indian sciences.
We have collated and edited articles and speeches by Prof. M. M. Joshi on issues concerning science, society and sustainable consumption. The compilation was released on May 7, 2008.
We have also completed the collation and editing of articles written by Prof. M. D. Srinivas and Dr. J. K. Bajaj during the last couple of decades on issues concerning science, technology and society. The compilation is now largely complete and runs into a couple of volumes. We hope to publish these two volumes soon.
Acharya Sabha ... ... ...