Sitting in a coffee shop at Vienna airport waiting for my flight to Innsbruck. , using fast free internet (why cant we have that all over India ?). The airport is full of Indians. Going to Milan and Frankfurt mostly. This is the time of the textile fairs, so its wonderful to meet all the young entrepreneurs from all over India.
The question that plagues many of us is, what is the force that binds India ? Before independence it was always empires that fought and brought this sprawling diverse continent under one leadership. But there was so many divisive factions, cultures, languages, political and social systems that the umpires ultimately broke apart not only through foreign conquests, but mostly because the internal divisions always helped the new conqueror. We say that the British were great at the ‘divide and rule’ policy – but in saying that we actually hide truth. We Indians are so divisive that it is easy to divide and rule us. Not the other way round. Is internal divisiveness our fundamental nature, and Indian nature ? I don’t think so. I believe it is that we are such a disparate people that divisions are easy to come by. India is always threatening to break at the seams, politically, or through religion, or through cast or race, or even language. Should India hold together (as I think it should), then what would/could hold it together ? Remember taht divisions in India can never just be resolved through geographical separation into states. For example the rise of the political power of the lower caste through Mayawati is not a geographical, issue. Caste politics are spread through our nation, or we would have to divide our nation once again through the upheavals that happened in partition.
So what is the idea that is India ?
1. An idea
An idea that a majority if Indians would believe in. Independence was such an idea. Gandhi took that idea and created history for a nation and himself. I doubt that the phenomena of Mahatma Gandhi would have occurred without being able to light the fire of Independence as an idea. And out of that idea a nation was born.
So what is that fundamental idea that everybody could believe and partake in ? Is democracy ?
For the first time the will of the people brought a nation together under one roof. Not an external conqueror. India was really born as a nation after that. However the form of democracy in India has totally corrupted itself, and has made India much more divided, with politicians encouraging divisions and hatred, even creating fear to create vote banks to keep themselves in power. And even though our Constitution forbids that by law, divisive politics are more the norm than exceptions.
Remember though that allowing more and more political divisions is not an answer. There will be always some more divisions, some more separatist movements.
3. A common Judiciary ?
Again we have failed here. A common, fair and swift system of judiciary would have created the faith of our people in Nationhood, but it is quite the opposite now. people have no faith in the Judiciary. And given the sheer lack of will and logistics within the judiciary itself, this does not seem a possibility in the near future
4. A common national leader
Yes, this is what we do need. A new leader that everyone trusted and was led by, and had faith in (Like Obama in the US) would help fire the imagination of a Nationhood and bring all the people together. How do we find this person ? I have argued before that it is highly unlikey this person would come out of the political system. He or she would have accepted, and become part of the inherrent corruption of the system by the time they achieve national status.
But we should look for one, certainly.
5. Economic progress, for all
Yes of course. This is our one chance. Hope creates bonds. The hope of a better life withing and not without the nation of India. The idea of Indian corporations that create branches all over India with people that benefit from that being from all over the country. Certainly the IT business did that. IT professionals are Indians first and Hindu and Muslim, Marathi or Tamil, or Gujarati later.
So obviously a growing professional class holds India together ?
I have always argued that access to good broadband and the internet will truly unlock the potential of India. Help reduce the rural urban divide, give our citizens the right to information and keep them away from misinformation of divisive politics. harmonize education and free the minds f our young people.
I could go one. But lets get down and think.
What is the idea that is India ?