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Ansari cautions against attempts at forging homogenous identity

“Our 4,635 communities, according to the Anthropological Survey of India, is a terse reminder about the care that needs to be taken while putting together the profile of a national identity,” Ansari said while inaugurating the 75th session of Indian History Congress. “The global scene in modern times has been replete with complexities and tensions of what has been called the national question. We live in a world of nation states but the idea of a homogeneous nation state is clearly problematic. Diversity is identifiable even in the most homogeneous of societies today,” he said.

Warning against any strait-jacket edifice for national identity “that came to grief” in other societies, Ansari said the pluralist structures in India that have stood the test for over six decades need “constant nurturing”. Ansari highlighted the practical relevance of history and said it helps to learn from the mistakes of the past. Ansari’s address is interesting as he presides over the upper house of Parliament, which did not function for a larger part of the winter session demanding a statement from Prime Minister on the issue of religious conversions.

Ansari also asserted that history cannot be “faith-based” and added, “The domains of the two exist separately and conflation does not further the cause of either.” The Vice- President said, “History helps us to know and learn from the mistakes of the past. Those mistakes relate to frailties in judgment leading to mistakes in statecraft and governance.

The Indian History Congress session was held at the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus for the first time. Ansari said, “It is no longer a matter of debate that history has to be more than narrowly political or economic. The imperative is to make it comprehensive and inclusive of neglected groups in society.”
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