So the day of 15 August has come again on our Gregorian Calendars, marking the anniversary of the day when the present Nation of India finally got its Independence from decades of foreign occupation. The midnight speech of our first Prime Minister on that fateful night very beautifully summarised the hopes, aspirations and dreams of the citizens of a new nation standing on the foundations of an old and continuous civilization. Some of those dreams became a reality; some of them are still a dream, yet to be fulfilled.
73 years have passed since that day; lots of things have changed in the nation and the world. Yet, many issues, challenges remain. And now, a new challenge, a new enemy in the form of a widespread pandemic has come which has brought the speedy journey of our nation and its citizens to a halt. Thousands have died directly due to COVID-19 diseases; thousands others are still dying due to the social-economic scarcity that is emerging due to the pandemic. While the popular government and concerned citizens are doing their best to prevent this, the pandemic and its side-effects are still accelerating.
And amid the pandemic, let’s not forget the other viruses which have infected the minds and hearts of Indians for decades. The viruses of casteism, communalism, greed, misogyny, queer-phobia, neglect of economically poor after your economic upliftment; these are as deadly as the COVID-19 virus, and the main reason why India is not yet a Super Power.
These are the main roadblocks that prevent the emancipation of every Indian citizen from the gallows of poverty, prejudice and mutual distrust. A significant population of our nation still spends their lives below the poverty line, devoid of necessities and amenities, which are rights of every human.
Yet most of us remain confined in our ghetto-bubbles, consuming the regular venom of misinformation, stereotyping, lies via unverified WhatsApp forwards, fake reactionary posts, over-hyped news debates, and most importantly, the dogmas we receive from our own family and friends and keep them as it is in our hearts and minds, without any self-verification. And in this way, unknowingly, we become the silent carriers of all these social viruses and unknowingly, unintentionally we spread them forward, assuming that we are doing this for good, for our nation, for India.
But what is India, have you ever wondered? Is it a political and geographical landmass of 3.3 million square kilometres? Or a group of 1.3 billion people? Or just a conglomeration of people with different religious, regional and linguistic identities? Can a language define India? Or can India be defined by a religion? No. India is above all these concepts.
India is not only a nation; it is more than a nation. It is an art of living, a way of surviving and progressing in this Kalyug. It is an ideology, a humanist ideology, that is above all religions, regions, colour and languages. It stands for universal tolerance for everyone; hence, if anyone says that particular activity or a particular thing is “against Indian culture”, they are spreading a lie.
The true Indian culture is strict adherence to the concept of वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम, of one universal family. This is the summary of all the Vedas; this is the summary of Buddha and Mahavir. This is the essence of India to which Prophet Muhammad referred as the “sweet cold breeze of knowledge blowing from the land of the Hind”; this is the message of India spread by Swami Vivekananda to the West.
Hence, whatever is there in the world is Indian, and whatever is Indian is international. India is the world, and the world is India. This basic mantra defines India. Once we realize the essence of this India and make ourselves immune to the viruses of unnatural pride and arrogance associated with region, religion, caste, birth, gender, sex or any other unnatural concept, then only we can serve our nation to the fullest.
The present COVID-19 pandemic is just a reminder to the fact that all the divisions among humans that we treat as rock-solid and natural are just fictional and temporary. And it applies to all humans living inside the boundary of the Republic of India. Together as one human species of a nation, we can overcome the pandemic and the socio-economic effects of it, and unless and until the pandemic is erased from this planet, no nation, people, group is safe.
Together, as one species, we can defeat this pandemic. Together, as one human species, we can prosper. And as a subset of this united human species, the citizens of India can take the lead, reaffirm their belief in humanity, cure themselves of the anti-human viruses of bigotry over the region, religion, etc. and establish the Indian nation as the leader of the entire humanity.
Jai Hind. Jai Bharati. All Hail Humanity.