Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Forgotten India

August 15th 1947, at the stroke of midnight we changed from a colony to a country, breaking allegiance to the crown we made the citizens of this then fractured nation the rulers of what we hoped was to be a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, vibrant, diverse and above all a unified nation that while respecting the differences will pave the way forward for collective growth and prosperity. Close to Sixty Four years since the Freedom at Midnight, much water has passed under the bridge and it seems the idea of a unified nation has been callously undermined, ignored and at worse forgotten!

The birth of a nation is sure to have its own share of teething issues, we went through a period of our own ‘integration-issues’ but eventually we seemed to have settled into being one-nation. Coming off from an intensely difficult separation at birth (the creation of Pakistan) and still having to face the remnants of its scourge in terms of terrorism, as a nation we should have by now understood and better appreciated the virtues of togetherness. Why is it then every day we find new reasons and avenues to fight and stay apart?

From a Telangana, to a Gorkhaland to Bodoland, from being BJP to Congress to I-am-aligned-to-anyone-with-power, from show-off-secularism to cultural nationalism… why do we continue to fragment ourselves into as-many-as-possible segments? And why are such segmentations so marked and defined?

If you disagree consider this

- A UPite or a Bihari in Mumbai is a ‘migrant’ – lynched as cattle by rightwing activists

- An Andhrite in Hyderabad is an ‘outsider’

- Recently the leader of a national party termed a leader of an opposition party as ‘untouchable’

- Kandhamal, 2008

- Gujarat, 2002

It appears as a nation we’ve only grown to the stage of being an unruly teen. Unsure of who we are, much less of who we want to be – we’ve forgotten our roots of unity and thus we do not know road to collective prosperity. Feels like its back to the future case, just that we are no longer fractured as kingdoms and princely states, we’ve evolved our fragmentations to religion, region, caste, economic & cultural affinity, political inclination etc… we’ve also evolved ourselves to be part of multiple fragments at the same time. Multiple fragmentations only leading to greater isolation!

The greatest ail for any nation has to be when we start to focus more on our differences. When self and individualistic interests override common goals! Today more than ever it appears we’re hurtling down the individualistic road. Sure there are differences, they are bound to be, but do they erase our common bonds? We have greater challenges outside; greater still are opportunities that surround us. Acceptance of diversity was intended to have been woven into the very fabric of our nation, so its not like we cannot iron out our differences – just need the earnestness to do so!

Abraham Lincoln once said that a house divided against itself cannot stand! Speaking against slavery, Lincoln said it was time for the nation to veer one way or the other… the operative word being ‘one’. Today standing on the cusp of world leadership we cannot be slandering, abusing, lynching and cutting ourselves into smaller fragments. Our greatest strength is our unity, our diversity is our USP, and the idea and ability to fuse both into one is the beauty and wonder that is India!

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