Wednesday, 25 November 2015

India: An Unnatural Nation

Photo: Yogesh Mhatre

Have you ever been mind blown by something so mundane, that you are completely caught off guard? Well, that's what happened to me recently when I started reading 'India After Gandhi' by Ramachandra Guha.

It had been there on my reading list for a while now and yesterday I finally got my hands on it. The prologue of the book is titled 'Unnatural Nation'. I didn't understand, what's so unnatural about it? It goes on to explain why most of the British folks were under the notion that it's impossible to have any sort of unity- physical, political, social or religious between states of India. As per them, there were too many languages, conflicting religions and cultural differences for it to make a nation, still less a democratic one. Many known people including Churchill said that if British left, we would perish and fall back into barbarism!

My first reaction was that of anger. How in the hell did they think that, we would perish without them? Our civilization is more than 3000 years old (blah blah..), all the thoughts any proud Indian would think of. But on further pondering, I started questioning why are we one nation?

True, that we have had civilizations surviving thousands of years and pretty successfully too. But never in our entire history have we been brought together from east to west, north to south under as one entity. As pointed out by John Strachey (a man who helped put British Raj),

"..the differences between the countries of Europe were much smaller than those between the 'countries' of India.'Scotland is more like Spain than Bengal is like the Punjab.' Diversities of race, language and religion are far greater."

Now, although it seems funny in beginning, man has a valid point.

So coming back to the question of what makes us one nation? I can very well argue that, since we all belong to one country ( technically as well as politically) we are Indians, but that would somehow diminish the true essence of reality.

Of course, we do have few things in common, but that can be said for any neighboring country. Then what is it which binds us together and keeps us moving forward? I would like to believe that we have a common soul, Indian spirit. A togetherness which you feel when you have undergone same experiences together especially suffering. I think British rule got us together, not in the way they think of course. When we felt the same pain, same suffering and fought for the same cause and the joy we shared together is what got us closer more than ever.

Even after 68 years, we are together. And I would like to believe we are not going to fall apart anytime soon. I don't mean to be over dramatic, but the truth is there is no other country like India. So even with it's flaws, be proud of it!

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