Idea of a 'homogeneous' nation is problematic: Hamid Ansari

Amid the raging controversy over Sangh Parivar's Hindutva agenda, Vice President Hamid Ansari on Sunday cautioned against connecting faith and history and propagating a "homogeneous" national identity when there are over 4,600 communities in the country.

New Delhi: Amid the raging controversy over Sangh Parivar's Hindutva agenda, Vice President Hamid Ansari on Sunday cautioned against connecting faith and history and propagating a "homogeneous" national identity when there are over 4,600 communities in the country.

The Vice-President said the idea of a homogeneous nation is problematic.

"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 straight-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.

He asserted that history also cannot be "faith-based". "The domains of the two exist separately and conflation does not further the cause of either."

Ansari said, "History helps us to know and learn from the mistakes of the past. Those mistakes relate to frailties in judgement leading to mistakes in statecraft and governance. These as one historian has put it could be due to tyranny or oppression, excessive ambition, incompetence or decadence, and folly or perversity."

The Indian History Congress session was held at the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus for the first time here.

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