Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Idea of India

India as an idea has been a forever changing one for me. From being the reason why we stood in the mid-day sun singing the national anthem for some special occasion to one where I developed this intense love and ‘nationalistic’ feelings for the nation.

But in these last few years things have changed, I have learned more. No longer does a rosy picture of a farmer tilling his soil and at peace with the world comes to my mind when I think of India but instead the picture has now been replaced with one where, this ‘mother-land’ of ours has become a commodity like any other.

Our Constitution defines India as one where it’s a, ‘sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic that assures its citizens justice, equality and liberty.’

But is India really all that. It used to make me proud when I heard those terms being associated with India, but not anymore. It makes me question the hypocrisy of it.

India is not really secular when there is an all pervasive discrimination against Muslims, and we are not really socialist state are we what with the widespread poverty, where on one side of the road we have Ambani’s Anila, which looks less like a house more like a building and on the other side of the road we have people begging just to make it through the day.

In our own borders we discriminate and marginalise people who are poor or on the basis of sex, religion and caste etc. We supress our own people with the excuse that it needs to be done to maintain the integrity and unity of the nation namely, Kashmir and the seven states in the North-East region of the country.

But much has to be said about the country’s survival post-independence, in the world today, India seems to be one of the stable countries (relatively speaking) out there, where the other countries who got liberated post-second world war soon fell into the cycle of one dictatorship after another, India held onto its democratic credentials minus the emergency period, post-which Indians and democracy could not separate.

The biggest challenge India faces today is the prospect of revivalism in the old ideas of caste superiority. Today, Political parties which are supposed to be secular are now mobilising people playing their caste or religion card which threatens the unity of this country.

But can India only be defined in terms of ideas, what about its people. Defining India in terms of its people gets even more difficult since there are so many cultures and way of lives that differs not only based on religion, but geographically and ethnically, hence the word plural best signifies India because there is no one type of Indian.

So what is it that holds us together as a nation if we are so different from one another? What makes people living in Bengal feel connected to the people living in Rajasthan? In our history the only time most of India was one and together over a single goal was during the Independence struggle against the British but then again not the whole of India, unless India is made up of only the hindi-speaking belt and the southern states. The ‘North-East’ didn’t really play that big a role with the rest of India, or Kashmir for that matter.

So since there never has been a moment in history that has brought together the whole of India as defined today, then it has to be the idea of India, i.e. what people would expect or hope for their nation to be, or what our founding fathers believed it will become.

And like all these people my Idea of India is a dream or a vision, that one day every person will have reached a level of freedom that allows them to sleep at night with a full stomach not worrying about the simple basic necessities of life and also, that we have reached a level maturity as a people where we are not burdened by our history and culture but have learnt and grown from it.

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