New Delhi: According to JNU Vice-Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, India is a democracy because it has a political culture, and variety is its strength.
Speaking at an international seminar at the Delhi University, Pandit asserted that Britishers did not give India "democratic values".
She was speaking at the plenary session on the second day of a three-day seminar titled -- Revisiting the ideas of India from 'Swaraj' to 'New India'.
"We do not believe in loot, genocide, and rape. We believe in culture and trade. Our democracy is much older. The British did not give us democratic values," Pandit said.
"India is a democracy because it has a political culture, a culture that can choose from 3,000 crore gods. What more diversity would you require," she asked.
Pandit said reducing India to a civic nation bound by a Constitution disregards its history, ancient heritage, culture, and civilisation.
"Reducing India to a civic nation bound by a Constitution disregards its history, ancient heritage culture, and civilisation. I would place India as a civilisation State. There are only two civilisation States that had a tradition with modernity, a realm with the region, and change with continuity. Those two states are India and China," she added.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University vice-chancellor said universities are not competitors but collaborators.
Speaking about the challenges of distorted history, Pandit said history is 'his' story, but 'her' story "also has to come".
Referring to British historian EH Carr's dictum "Facts are sacred and interpretation can vary", Pandit said, "Unfortunately, independent India, and to a certain extent the university I belonged to, overturned this dictum."
"Interpretation is sacred and facts can vary, and this varies," she added.
Talking about Hinduism, the vice-chancellor said, "It is a way of life."
Pandit said Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the first mass leader. "Many people think Gandhi is a disciple of Gopal Krishna Gokhale. I would say he is the disciple of Lokmanya Tilak. Because he used similar symbols to bring mass movements like Satyagraha and Ram Rajya," she said.
Pandit further said Draupadi and Sita were the first feminists. "Many people believe that feminist or women's rights movement began only with Marx and ended there. The first feminists were Draupadi and Sita."