After we have been celebrated 68 years of Republic day when we officially proclaimed that we would be known as “Bharat Ganarajya-Republic of India” a lot of water has flown down the Ganga. It is no surprise that keeping to the theme of the month let us recapitulate on this whole idea of India. A country that had been in imagination as many would say.
The idea had been seeped in the minds of the people living in the sub continent where the mix of races, ethnicity as well as the communities and the languages ranging in thousands were all bound together by a strange social fibre. Time flew by and before we knew it was just like the anvil of discovering a whole new identity of India. The rule of the European powers, at least on the central level and the underneath the native states, had created a sense of mistake identities. Then came the moment of reckoning when one day we were finally and definitely in jolted into being a country.
Yeah, I guess that is the right nomenclature. Within the country of India, you can find identities that can give birth to several sub nations. Let us just freeze the moment and try to think of the possibility of a united India that we now refer to as South Asia through a conglomeration of various countries. It is all about the imagining of Akhand Bharat (United India) or Hindustan, before the national boundaries came up.
Amitava Ghosh’s “Shadow Lines” or the numerous Bollywood and regional movies have talked about the pain of India’s Partition. With a single sign on a paper, the British government, the new Government of India and of Pakistan inflicted a huge amount of pain and dispossession. One stroke on a paper made way for millions of people across the expanse of Indian subcontinent to be displaced.
The working of the committee since the time of Lord Mountbatten was at the helm after the Wavell plan came into force. The moment of reckoning was mired in not only controversy but also fallacy. Mortimer Durand had to come up with the boundary lines in a matter of one and half months which itself is hard to imagine. It felt like cutting your own body into pieces, something that the body cannot comprehend. It wasn’t just the possessions but by the amount of the emotional displacement which probably can never be understood.
An idea of India which was always confusing for the people in the context of one nation state had been born on 15th August but the tears that were created by the division of the country had been unjust in so many ways. People from various quarters were confused to understand the essence of their new identity, as well as the new anthems and the flags that represented a completely new identity for the displaced. The map of India became disfigured as if a chink from her armour had been removed.
It is ironic that Nepal and Bhutan, despite geographically being a part of the Indian subcontinent and having had the interwoven framework with the country, did not face the brunt of this inhuman decision. Questions still arise, however, when it comes to boundary disputes with people sacrificing their lives. The journey of what could have been and what we have got is the important essence of my piece.
This idea of our country as a major power in South Asia has emerged over a period of decades. The same can be said to be true for the neo-colonial countries of Africa. However the the joining of a fragmented India under the system of a nation state breaking a millennia old tradition was definitely something. This is where a new dream and a new hope fused with the frustration of the old. The overstated use of religion has to be determined whether it is for national identity or the proclamation of secularity in India.
From my perspective, the context of religion has been easily put on paper but the maturity in it’s understanding lacks even today. The sorrow, the pain, the humiliation that we as a people, not of India, but of the sub continent; felt needs to be redeemed. Redemption need not be aggressive but assertive which India has been definitely doing. The only concluding point in the form of a question that can be raised and has been lurking is that will India and Pakistan resolve their dispute for a stronger South Asia? Will we realize that the fight lies not among us but out there.
The common cultural space and identity needs to be respected. It is very easy to say, however the distrust that has spread across the common space with the idea of two nation theory inception has kept on spreading. The poison that had spread its wings during the regime of the colonial empire had been ratified by the so called leaders on both sides, which is by the way, India and Pakistan. As Amitava Ghosh had written, the whole identity of the border lines are shadowy as already put out by the idea of dividing the sub continental identity on the lines of European system.
The idea of creating a country on the lines of ethnicity, religion, and also the caste system to top it all, made it all the more complicated. No wonder that Churchill had such a condescending view of the whole idea of India. Still we stand at the juncture of completing 71 years of Independence, at least from the common foreign oppressor that we could all recognize on a broader scale.
Now the time is to look forward to the new opportunities. A better future, possibly for the next generation, that can identify themselves not just at the petty levels of religion or caste even though the idea may seem utopian right now. The path there is not going to be easy but can be only attempted to reach so that we can make up the lost opportunity missed, opportunities lost in tears, into a blooming future.