The Department of Cultural Education conducted a one-day Symposium on Indian History and Culture on 23rd April 2016 at the Coimbatore campus.
The Symposium was inaugurated by Dr. K. Sankaran, Registrar of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, who expressed deep concern at the prevailing educational scenario in the country and how the politicisation of educational institutions is affecting the quality of education. Dr. S. Mahadevan, Deputy Dean of the School of Engineering, exhorted the students to imbibe patriotic values and participate in nation-building activities.
The first speaker of the day, Sri Michel Danino, who is presently a member of the prestigious Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR), spoke on the topic, “Distortions in Indian History.” He took up ten major questions and debates of Indian history like “Did the Aryans Invade India?”, “Was the British rule beneficial for India?”, “Was there a Ram Temple under the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya?”. He presented a thorough overview of these issues using hard evidence from historical disciplines like archaeology and epigraphy.
The second academic session consisted of a detailed presentation by Sri. Sandeep Balakrishna, Author of the book Tipu Sultan – Tyrant of Mysore, on the life and legacy of Tipu Sultan. Going into detailed historical records of Tipu Sultan’s violent invasions propelled by religious fanaticism in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, the speaker challenged the popular notion that Tipu was a patriot fighting against British rule.
The third academic session was on ‘The Art and Architecture of Ajanta’ by Prof. Swaminathan, History Educator and Former Professor of IIT-Delhi. Using illustrations of some of the most beautiful paintings and sculptures from Ajanta, Prof. Swaminathan impressed the students with the wonderful aesthetic sense and super human skills that ancient Indian artisans possessed and the need to appreciate and understand this rich heritage of our country.
The symposium was interspersed with cultural performances by the students of the Amrita School of Engineering who presented songs in Sanskrit and an instrumental performance.
The valedictory address was delivered by Dr. K. Shailendra from the Department of Mathematics, who summed up the day’s proceedings and added many useful insights. The symposium received a highly enthusiastic response from students and faculty community and recorded more than 400 participants. Amrita alumni, parents of students, and teachers and students from colleges and schools in and around Coimbatore participated in this program.
Students presented their feedback about the symposium during the valedictory session. Devanand, a first year student from the department of Mechanical Engineering, said that Michel Danino’s session was an eye-opener for him. Praharsha, a second year student from the department of civil engineering, said that it was an enriching experience as the knowledge she gained through this one-day symposium was otherwise not accessible through any academic source. Ashwin Deepak, another second year student of the department of mechanical engineering, said that it was a new experience for him and the wide exposure that the symposium provided through such scholars was very valuable to students.