The Concept of an Indian Nation


India was born on 15th August 1947. This statement is at times questioned, clashed upon with by people who believe that independent India could have been different or better, people who believed that free India should have been freer where the poor could think of realizing their dreams, an India in which no decision is made under constrains, and that was a view of free India for many. But things went on, days passed and today we have an India ready to celebrate its 65th birthday.

The concept of an Indian nation is very debatable, some say it is one, some say it is a union of many. We also have seen radical views which say it isn’t one, but is divided into many. But for all these 64 years what has India been is what we can sit and decide today and base our future on that.

Has India really been a union of many or has it been just a collection of many with no common ideology, no logic to be one, more importantly no reason to be one. Resentment never decides anti-union, that’s true. But it unearths the hidden differences that exist. As we have a glimpse of our past we can see that India for no reason has been able to be unified together since Independence. All history books, all media bodies and for that matter all platforms, whenever they speak for Indian unity they show glimpses of the independence struggle. But those were different images. It was a call for unity. The nation didn’t unify to be get unified. It joined hands to fight a common enemy. But ever since it was made to believe that we are one. Never in history before that had any ruler in any period of time ruled over this current Indian map that we see today. Even the mightiest of rulers, be it Ashoka or Akbar had never been able to seize certain territories of current India. India as a concept grew only after the British arrived. Although it was born on 15th August 1947, its incubation had started long ago. It is always the condition of incubation that decides the birth condition of a child and even its future course.

Indian might be the only country in which people feel so strongly about the freedom of speech and maybe it is the only country where this freedom is misused the most. The media by virtue of being independent is expected to report all information without being judgmental. But sadly, Incidents such as the Indian Air Force being used on the Mizos, the report of over 100 Kashmiri women raped by the Army and thousand of Bengali immigrants slaughtered on a single night might come as a surprise to you today as you are reading this. Just go few moments back and ask yourself, is this the India I was living in. If it’s a no than maybe we can analyze more. When have you ever felt ecstatic about what the govt has done and about how the media has followed it? Well India can never make a decision that will meet the aspirations of every Indian and will be followed with supporting messages. Have we ever analyzed why this happens in India. There may be no clear answer to this but logically we may arrive at a point when we realize that the aspirations of this nation are not one. So how do we deal with these differences? Use our force, the army or police that is what we have been doing till today or resort to diplomacy which will lead to a never ending cycle and will at least decrease the magnitude of fear to the govt.

But before you question what they need to do ask yourself what you want? Because as far as it goes in a democracy the wishes of the people is first and foremost, But is it true in case of India. Whatever your heart says, do you see that happening? Are you free to speak about your ideology with regard to the nation’s policy? Did you ever stop from commenting just out of fear because you felt that your view may not be majority view? Yes if not you many Indians did. They did because ours is a nation droven by emotions, by wild assumptions. As mentioned above this is the result of the incubation stage through which India passed. British might have long left India, but we have never stopped following them. They played with our differences and we were silent spectators of the game, we win or we lose they used to earn, they kept earning until the day they found it to be unprofitable after huge expenses in world war 2 and decided to leave India. The day we lost millions of life during partition we should have understood that we lost. But no, we cannot lose, how can we? We have overthrown a large empire, we have created our free nation but just as we were making the tryst with destiny we should have realized that this destiny was written long ago by people who knew that if difference exists we can fool them, we can rule them. Ideologies differ that’s true, debate happens and conclusions are drawn which result into manifestation and realization of aspiration but in India the cycle is long and it comes back to original. In India a difference is born, and now a decision is taken, vested interests aggravate the difference based on the decision, and then we follow our emotion and finally on a wild assumption we derive a conclusion which takes us nowhere but to the same situation. The best example I have with me to illustrate this is sadly the AFSPA, I would have been happier had this name been unheard of by me, but sadly how can it be. If you have ever asked someone who has seen the wrath of this act you might curse yourself for being a silent citizen of this nation. Because of differences in society and governance was born a new revolutionary idea which transpired into the ideology of many and finally India had to face the heat of many separatist movement, the solution of course seemed to be tough action. The very inhuman Rowlatt act of 1919 under which General Dyer killed hundreds in jallianwala bagh massacre was brought back to practice only in a new dress to be called the Arms forces special powers Act. Under this act the Arms forces people were given greater powers to curb terrorism. Were they successful? Is Kashmir or northeast peaceful today is not the question you should ask. Is every person over there content today with whatever this nation has given them is what you should answer for yourself. Being content is difficult but picking arms and moving to jungles to fight in discontent is an even difficult thing so rational assumption will say that there has been a discourse in the governance policy that was adopted. The inhuman misuse of the APSPA has further aggravated the problem of separatism in India. But why hasn’t Indian government repealed this act. Every commission, every committee has widely exposed its misuse, of its danger to sovereignty. So is India afraid of the truth? Is it afraid of the freedom of its own people? Or is it that it has no reason to think of these people.

What does freedom means to you? You must be able to dream freely, to live freely. Each and every section of society must be able to do that freely. In India before an election someone is tagged as the dalit queen, some party is tagged anti Muslim. Is this the realization of dreams we talk about. There is a vast difference in simply growing and in being mature. India has grown over 64 long years but its maturity is questionable. Has it shown maturity in dealing with all situations, has it even thought of writing its own destiny or is it still following the destiny written long ago. Divided by caste, divided by creed and ethnicity India still is not able to decide logically but always has to resort to popularity. Why this is happening in India is a question I will leave to you but few things can be clearly understood. The reason we don’t see satisfaction in the eyes of many is because of the confidence of a citizen in his nation which our beloved India has not been able to gain and hence all that a person looks for is personal benefit more than greater good and hence we get caught in the loop. Just as the Britishers did ruling is still a concept in India, serving for the nation hardly was and is.

That through its 64 years of independence it has rightly been able to make each individual feel free is a rosy assumption based on which we cannot set pace for a developed India. After independence we have seen regional claims all because the current India was always divided into regions, peoples sentiments are driven by ethnicity and mother tongue which is a tendency even the generous of the generous cannot negate. It has always been one region voicing its concerns without knowing the aspirations of others. Through its 64 yrs of self rule India has undermined many such aspirations which will keep being unheard and undermined if it doesn’t wants to arrive at a solution, New Delhi is powerful to mute some voice from within but trapped heat catches fire which is difficult to control. Even if you control the fire what remains is ashes and from there starts another cycle of hatred, separatist feel, and claim for Independence. So New Delhi must listen, it must become matured not to allow to catch fire. A long left idea of India by the Britishers may not be what free Indians believe in and the govt must respect that. It must believe in writing its own destiny. The British kept on expanding its territory for vested interest and today we see that happening in our present interest, few portions are necessary for fulfilling requirements where as few are a question of India’s strength in retaining its boundaries. What India missed to pick on was its own people who lived in these areas and hence there is a call, a roar if not mistaken from within to alienate from this Concept of India, the concept of India needs to be broader, it needs to engulf all. It needs to be federal and much more independent than how the British had left for us. It must revisit India and must categorically unite India where the policies may be different but the motive is one “Freedom”. India can, should and must give freedom to all areas of dispute but not necessarily by drawing new boundaries but by opening of doors that were till today closed.

A shining India through its cities and growing towns is the hard work of the aspiring Indians to whom I will extend my wishes of Independence Day for they are able to be free and for the many that are still not free, still wishing to set free I hope this Independence Day is not the right time for me to “celebrate” if not mourn it as a fake tryst made with destiny.

The concept of an India where everyone believes in India first is practically impossible, may be we can move towards an India where the concept of an Indian nation looks feasible at-least at first.

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10 thoughts on “The Concept of an Indian Nation

  1. Pulakesh Upadhyaya

    Independence is a misjudged concept. It is not totally true in the entire Indian scenario and I agree with you here. But, there have been instances where this country has been united, however few they might be and with a thousand exceptions.

    This does not make India a failed state altogether, but with the passage of time newer challenges emerge. Well, the very fact that attempt at dictatorship was widely defeated by the polls after the Emergency, although the South of India at that time still gave the ruling party a commanding majority.But the Indian State has also withstood tougher tests of time, and has been able to rise out of the false ideals of pseudo-socialism to be a more or less stable economy. But, democracy has been always undermined, be it AFSPA, be it Nehru government dismissing the Namboodiripad government, Indira’s emergency, attacks on Mizo insurgent and a disastrous Kashmir and North East policy of the Congress party. I

    would sound political, not only because this party has been primarily responsible of high handedness in India’s affairs because having ruled for 50 years it had a chance to change India’s political discourse. I see light at the end of the tunnel, and have optimistic view of a unique nation which has been misunderstood by both optimists and pessimists alike. I would like to take a middle path, not because it is safe, but because I see the tunnel and the ray at the same time.

    Reply
  2. the_rookie

    some sentences did shake my conscience and make me think “what this guy is saying is absolutely true…why didn’t i notice this before”…good going man…but if u can make them a bit shorter and compact, it would be better…

    Reply
  3. Dhrubajyoti Kalita

    That is undoubtedly a brilliant piece, totally unbiased, by the people and for the people! I suggest you to circulate it to leading assamese dailys; may be I could help you with the translation. Keep going.

    Reply
  4. Durlov

    Good post once again, Arindam. From my experiences of corporate life, independence day is more of a long weekend to take a break from work. More so, when next friday is also a holiday. So 3 days leave makes it a 9 days break. Why is this so? Answer may be found in ur blog. More seriously, lack of political participation by the masses (hardly 50% voter turm-out) and prevalence of votebank politics which rests in divisive intentions are make-work of the concept of the Indian nation.
    Arindam, from the content perspective, you may use book references and quotes by historians to make ur case stronger. You may also keep fine-tuning the post even after publishing it.

    Reply
  5. Nilim Dutta

    Dear Arindam,

    Even before you go on to re-examine the “Concept of India”, I would suggest you first acquire clearer understanding of what a “Nation” means and how it emerges in its historical context. Benedict Anderson’s “Imagined Communities” wold be an excellent place to begin this journey of exploration and understanding. Once that becomes clearer, we can move on to discuss issues of freedom, democracy, federalism etc.

    I shall just make one comment. 64 Years is not even a footnote in history. And a nation is a dynamic, constantly evolving entity. There is no fundamental flaw in the Concept of India as a pluralist democratic nation. Whatever contradictions remain can be resolved. Neither India, nor its concept as a nation, is in crisis.

    Reply
    1. Durlov Baruah

      Dear Nilim da,

      Thanks for writing in basis my request. Would surely read ‘Imagined Communities’.. I would however opine that a footnote if not correctly written can change the meaning of a chapter. Its about the direction in which the 65 years have gone by. I know its not even one full generation, but that’s plus to constructively criticize the direction.

      1. Are we federal enough to accomodate a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-identity geography?
      2. Are we, as a state, concerned only about tiger extinction, or do we care about culture/community extinction?
      3. Is our democracy participatory enough? Why do we have such low voter turn-outs? We are just 65 and are we bored already! Or is there some serious structural issues to be grapple with.
      4. Why do we find such good secondary education facilities, when our primary school infrastructure is either pathetic, or run by missionary/gujarati trusts.
      5. And there are many such questions…

      Durlov

      Reply

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