FM Sitharaman wades into Harappa row over Budget speech

FM Nirmala Sitharaman wades into Harappa row over Budget speech

She also announced that a maritime museum would be set up at Lothal - the Harrapan age maritime site near Ahmedabad for which she proposes to provide Rs 3,150 crore for Ministry of Culture for 2020-21

She also read out a couplet from Pandit Dina Nath Kaul, a poet from Srinagar form Kashmiri Pandit community, which said  “Everything that we do, all of us do, is for this beautiful country. (Credit: PTI Photo)

Presenting the second budget of Modi 2.0 government, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman waded into a territory close to BJP’s core which vouches for Hindutva politics and prides in ancient India's glory but her remarks referring to Harappan era seals, claiming one of contained the word ‘Sreni’ led to a storm on social media with many questioning how come she was able to decipher the Harappan script.

While her Budget speech hopped from aspirational to Antyodaya, from traders to toiling farmers and from youths to women and the elderly with a “caring society” message, Sitharman’s speech was also peppered with references from ancient historical referenes.

Check out our full coverage of Union Budget 2020 here 

Sitharaman also unveiled the government plans to develop five archaeological sites including in Rakhigarhi, an Indus valley civilization site in Haryana whose DNA study has raised questions on the Aryan invasion theory.

She announced that five archaeological sites would be developed as iconic sites with onsite Museums. They are: Rakhigarhi (Haryana), Hastinapur (Uttar Pradesh) Shivsagar (Assam), Dholavira (Gujarat) and Adichanallur (Tamil Nadu).

Sitharaman also referred to the guilds of Saraswati-Sindhu civilization and the Harappan seals of ancient India to hammer home the point that how the spirit of entrepreneurship was integral to India from time immemorial. 

“The guilds of Saraswati-Sindhu civilization and the Harappan seals are remarkable. They belong to 3300 BCE. Words from the Indus Script-hieroglyphs have been deciphered. Commerce and trade-related words show how India for a millennia is continuing as rich in skills, metallurgy, trade etc. “Takara Kolimi=Tin smithery”, “ Sreni “= Guild,” Sethi”=  wholesale merchant, “Poddar”= Assayer of metal into treasury,” she said.

Social media reacted asking whether the Finance Minister has deciphered the Harappan script and wondering how could the Finance Minister explain the meanings Harappa hieroglyphs, which have yet not been deciphered despite a century of continuous efforts.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram from Congress wondered why she repeatedly emphasized the Sindhu Saraswati civilization. “She should have also acknowledged that there is an equally ancient, equally famous civilisation called the Dravidian civilization and there is a huge amount of evidence that has been excavated at Kheezhadi,” he said.

In her Budget speech, Sitharaman also outlined the goverrnment’s plans to establish an Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation under Ministry of Culture for the acquisition of knowledge in disciplines such as museology, and archaeology, which she said are essential for collecting and analysing scientific evidence of such findings and for dissemination through high-quality museums.

She also read out a couplet from Pandit Dina Nath Kaul, a poet from Srinagar form Kashmiri Pandit community, which said: “Everything that we do, all of us do, is for this beautiful country." Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill was quick to say on Twitter that narrating a poem on Kashmir will not compensate $1 billion trade loss and one lakh job loss in private sector since August 5, the day the government had taken away the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by removing  Article 370. “Is Budget scripting a solution to an economic mess or is it merely a script of poetry & dialogues,” he asked.

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