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Monday, November 24, 2008

The task of taking India forward

Intellectuals need to understand what India really is, before discussing what steps should be taken for its progress.India is passing through a critical stage in its history, facing as it does crises on different fronts. The worldwide economic recession has hit India too. Powerful divisive forces are sowing seeds of discord among the people. The time has come for patriotic intellectuals of the country to come forward and guide the people, promote its rich composite culture, and help it to go forward on the path of progress.It is with this aim that the Kalidas-Ghalib Academy for Mutual Understanding has been founded in Delhi. Its branches are proposed all over India. Intellectuals are the eyes of society, and without them society is blind. However, today even intellectuals in India are groping in the dark, unable to understand what is actually happening in India and in the world. We have hence to first enlighten and educate intellectuals so that they will then be able to educate the rest of the country. Surprisingly, very few people know what India truly is. We have to first discuss what our country is before discussing what steps should be taken for its progress.

A country of immigrants
While North America is a country of new immigrants in which Europeans and others came over the last four centuries, India is a country of old immigrants. Its people came in over the last 10,000 years or so. Probably 95 per cent of the people living in India today are descendants of immigrants who came mainly from the North-West and to a lesser extent from the North-East. This is a point of great importance for an understanding of our country.

People migrate from uncomfortable areas to comfortable areas, for everyone wants to live in comfort. Before the coming of modern industry, there were agricultural societies. India was a veritable paradise for such societies because it has level and fertile land, hundreds of rivers, forests, and so on, and is rich in natural resources. Why should anyone migrate from India to, say, Afghanistan which is mountainous, rocky, and cold? Hence, for thousands of years, people kept pouring into India. They found a comfortable life here in a country that was gifted by nature. Almost all the immigration and invasions came from outside into India (except in the case of those Indians who were sent out during British rule as indentured labour, and the recent migration of a few million Indians to developed countries for job opportunities).

As the great Urdu poet Firaq Gorakhpuri wrote:

“Sar Zamin-e-hind par aqwaam-e-alam ke firaq

Kafile guzarte gae Hindustan banta gaya”
[“In the land of Hind, the caravans of the peoples of the world kept coming in, and India kept getting formed.”]

Who were India’s original inhabitants? At one time it was believed that the Dravidians were the original inhabitants. However, this view has been considerably modified, and now the generally accepted belief is that the original inhabitants of India were the pre-Dravidian aborigines, whose descendants are speakers of the Munda Austric languages, living today in parts of Chotanagpur (Jharkhand), Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bengal, and so on (see Cambridge History of India, Vol. 1 pp. 36-38; see also ‘original inhabitants of India’ in http://en.wikepedia.org/wiki/Dravidian_people).

Thus about 95 per cent of the people living in India today are the descendants of immigrants (though they may not be aware of it). It is for this reason that there is such tremendous diversity in India. This diversity is a significant feature of our country. There are a large number of religions, castes, languages, ethnic groups, and cultures in India owing to the fact that it is a country of immigrants.

Some people are tall, some short. Some are dark, some fair, some brown. Some have Caucasian features, some Mongoloid features, some Negroid features. There are differences in dress, food habits, and in various other matters. We may compare India with China, which is larger both in population and land area than India. China has a population of about 1.3 billion whereas our population is roughly 1.1 billion. China has more than twice India’s land area. However, virtually all Chinese have Mongoloid features; they have a common written script (Mandarin Chinese), and 95 per cent of them belong to one ethnic group, the Han Chinese. Hence there is broad homogeneity in China.On the other hand, India has tremendous diversity caused by large-scale migrations and invasions over thousands of years. The immigrants and invaders who came in brought with them their different cultures, languages, religions and so on, which accounts for our diversity. Given such great diversity, if we wish to stay united it is essential that we have tolerance and equal respect for all communities and sects. It was due to the wisdom of our founding fathers that we have a Constitution which is secular in character and caters to our tremendous diversity.Thus it is the Constitution of India that keeps us together despite the diversity — because it gives equal respect to all communities, sects, and linguistic and ethnic groups. The Constitution guarantees all citizens freedom of speech (Article 19), freedom of religion (Article 25), equality (Articles 14 to 17), liberty (Article 21), and so on.

The Constitution also provides for federalism. Federalism is really catering to regional aspirations, and this is essential in a country like ours with such diversity. Thus the Tamil people have their own State government, as do the people of West Bengal, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and so on. There is a Central government for everyone. There is thus unity in diversity.The architect of modern India was the great Mughal emperor Akbar. He gave equal respect to people of all communities and appointed them to the highest offices on their merits irrespective of their religion, caste, and so on. Akbar was perhaps the greatest ruler the world has seen.

Akbar’s role in creating modern India
As stated in the Cambridge History of India (Volume IV: The Mughal Period), Emperor Akbar conceived the idea of becoming the father of all his subjects rather than the leader of only Muslims. He declared his policy of Suleh-e-kul, that is, universal toleration of all religions, at a time when Catholics and Protestants were massacring each other in Europe and people were being burnt at the stake for their beliefs. He was thus far ahead of his times. As Jawaharlal Nehru wrote in The Discovery of India: “Akbar’s success is astonishing, for he created a sense of oneness among the diverse elements of India.”It was because of Akbar’s wise policy of toleration that the Mughal Empire lasted so long. The same wise policy of toleration alone can keep our country together despite our diversity. It is absolutely essential in order to keep the country united and to take it on the path of progress to give equal respect to all communities and sects. All people must live in peace and harmony with one another, even if they differ in religion, caste, language, region, beliefs, and practices.

India is a poor country
The worst thing in life is poverty. Nobody respects the poor. If we wish to get respect in the comity of nations, we must make India prosperous — which is possible only through a high level of industrialisation.

Today the real world is cruel and harsh. It respects power, not poverty or weakness, and power comes from a high level of industrialisation. When China and Japan were poor nations, their people were derisively called the “Yellow Races” by the western nations. Today nobody will dare call them so as they are strong industrialised nations. Similarly, if we wish to get respect in the world we must make India a highly industrialised and prosperous country. For this purpose, a powerful cultural struggle, that is, a struggle in the realm of ideas, must be waged by our patriotic and modern-minded intelligentsia. This cultural struggle must be waged by combating feudal backward ideas, that is, casteism, communalism and superstitions, and replacing them with modern and scientific ideas among the masses.

Underdeveloped countries like India are passing through a transitional age between feudal agricultural society and modern industrial society. This is a painful and agonising period. A study of the history of England of the 17th and 18th centuries and of France of the 18th and 19th centuries shows that the transitional period was full of turbulence, revolutions and intellectual ferment. It was only after going through this fire that modern society emerged in Europe. India is presently going through this fire. We are going through a very painful period of our history.Our national aim must be to get over this transitional period as quickly as possible, reducing the agony that is inevitable during this period. Our aim must be to make India a modern, powerful, industrial state. Only then will we be able to provide for the welfare of our people and get respect in the world community.At present we hardly have any relevance in the world. Although we have a population of 1.10-1.15 billion, we do not have a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, while countries such as the United Kingdom and France with a population of about 60 million each have permanent seats. We are not a member of the G-8, which comprises developed countries. We have to apply for financial aid to other countries or financial institutions, like beggars.


megat November 24, 2008 at 11:52 AM  

your blog very beautiful and more info ,make me excited. Congratulation!!

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