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"Story of India" Misses the Mark on India's History (press release)

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    Update Flash: HINDU AMERICAN FOUNDATION PRESS RELEASE Story of India Misses the Mark on India s History, Hindu Watchdog Group Announces FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 13, 2009
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      "Story of India" Misses the Mark on India's History, Hindu Watchdog
      Group Announces


      For Media Inquiries contact:
      HAF Director of Public Policy
      Ishani Chowdhury
      Office: 301.770.7835
      Fax: 301.770.7837
      Email: ishani at hafsite.org

      January 10, 2009 (Washington, D.C.)-- Historian Michael Wood's
      visually stunning documentary on India's history, "The Story of
      India," currently appearing on public television, is reigniting a
      bitter debate over the origins of Indian civilization. The Hindu
      American Foundation, a prominent Hindu advocacy group based in
      Washington, D.C., recorded a deluge of phone calls criticizing Wood's
      presentation of the Aryan Migration Theory (AMT).

      The AMT theorizes that in 1500 BCE, pastoral tribes that came to be
      known as Aryans, migrated from Central Europe to Northwest India
      eventually dispersing indigenous peoples and imposing their own
      culture. This theory, that is not supported by archaeological
      evidence, was first posited by European indologists and British
      colonialists, eventually finding support from a section of India's
      politically motivated linguists and historians such as Romila Thapar,
      and famously, controversial Harvard linguist, Michael Witzel.

      In his documentary, Wood holds that the early Hindu practice of
      worshipping devas, or demigods representing elements, somehow implies
      that these practices were imported from Central Asia. And while
      referencing obliquely that the Aryan Migration Theory is
      controversial, Wood fails to present contrary evidence that many
      scientists believe refutes the claim that the progenitors of Hindu
      civilization came from west of the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan.

      "There is no debate that India was always the cradle of Hindu
      civilization, and the Vedas, the Hindu's holiest scriptures, are the
      recorded history of our ancestors," said Suhag Shukla, HAF's Managing
      Director. "We strongly oppose the insulting theory--advanced by
      agenda-driven activist historians--that our rishis, the great sages
      who composed the Vedas, were foreign to India, and Wood does viewers a
      disservice in not presenting both sides of the coin of the debate, in
      an otherwise admirable and beautiful work."

      The AMT is reviled by many Hindus due to its implicit proposition that
      a tribe of "Aryans" migrated into the Indian subcontinent, subjugated
      an indigenous people dispersing them to South India and established a
      caste system where the highest castes are comprised of "Aryans" and
      lower castes were indigenous peoples--an ethno-religious apartheid system.

      This explosive theory that narrates that Aryans were only the first
      colonizers--followed by Greeks, Mongols, Turks, Persians--was used by
      European historians to justify the last foreign claim on India, the
      British Raj.

      However, it is the latest genetic evidence, based on chromosomal and
      DNA analysis, that scientists believe definitively discredits the AMT.
      Studies published in 2006, in the highly reputed Proceedings of the
      National Academy of Sciences and American Journal of Human Genetics,
      demonstrate that Y-chromosomal data collected from dozens of Indian
      sub-populations and tribal areas confirmed a common ancestry between
      all caste groups and tribals. The scientists in both studies concluded
      that there was no genetic basis to a claim that any migration occurred
      from west of India, and in fact, theorized that a northward migration
      may have occurred from India, out to Central Asia.

      "Michael Wood clearly admires India and its people, and this shows
      through in his passionate depiction of India," said Sheetal Shah,
      HAF's Director of Development and Outreach. "We are not seeking to
      discredit the "Story of India" in its entirety, but viewers should be
      aware that a major error was made in the documentary that fails
      scrutiny and should be corrected."


      The Hindu American Foundation is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, non-partisan
      organization promoting the Hindu and American ideals of understanding,
      tolerance and pluralism. Contact HAF at 1-301-770-7835 or on the web
      at www.HAFsite.org.

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