India QuestionsPosted: January 1, 2010
As the new year is here, and i am reading, or rather re-reading a book which i find fascinating, some of the questions which i had asked when i first read this book, and have been asking since, without getting complete replies, are coming back. At a time when the nation looks forward to another year of prosperity and growth, these questions are ones which arent even related to these, but rather, are questions which are slightly more basic. I am not the first one to ask these questions, nor would i be the last. But coming back to the book i am reading, this is The Discovery of India. In this book, Panditji has explored the idea of India as a nation, has asked some questions of her, and tried to find answers to some of these questions. I am asking not necessarily the same question, but some of these questions share a context.
India is a large, highly diverse nation. We are a nation poised on the threshold of leading the world into a wonderful future. And yet, there are these questions. As a nation, we are a political and economic entity. We are also a civilization, though, and it is from this aspect that questions are coming. The question is simple … What is it that defines India? India is a land of diversity. The Meitei are very different from the Gujarati, and the Kashmiri are very different from the Malayali. And this dimension of region is only one dimension which defines the variety of India. Then of course there is religion, and there is caste, and a number of socio-economic dimensions which define the great variety of India. And yet, there is something which underlies all of these dimensions, which threads all of this diversity into the garland of India.
What i am asking is simply this … what is this something? Is it a shared culture? Culture is shared to an extent. Is it a shared history? Again, shared to an extent. Is it s shared cause? To an extent. Is it a combination of all of these? What is it that makes each of us stand to attention at the singing of the National Anthem? What is it that makes us watch the Republic Day Parade? What is it that makes us shout, sing, dance, cheer when India is playing and winning at cricket (more so when against Pakistan)? If all of these dimensions were flowers, then what is that thread that brings these flowers together into the garland we love … India?
Expect more such musings as i read this book. These questions havent yet been answered completely.