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Where is an Indian?

Where is an Indian?

Author: B.M. Hegde
Publication: The Hindu
Date: December 3, 2002
URL: http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/op/stories/2002120300110200.htm

The present global village has forced even the European countries to form a Union to survive, while we are trying our best to destroy the beautiful well-knit country into bits and pieces, as if the previous invaders had not done enough to damage the Indian culture.

DURING MY tour of this country I always ask people who they are? I am yet to get any one who said that he/she was an Indian. Invariably people tell me that they are either Tamilians, Telugus, Bengalis or Kannadigas, but never did I encounter someone who said proudly that he/she is an Indian. This is the greatest curse on this country. The British did succeed in keeping us divided. They even engineered a split of this great country, with a hoary past, into two separate countries, India and Pakistan, even as we were to become independent. That was only the beginning of the fissiparous tendency. If a country could be split on the basis of religion, where the people had lived for centuries in peace as brothers and sisters, there is no reason why it should not be further divided on any other excuse.

Our "great" netas were mostly men with feet of clay. They readily fell into the trap laid by the British, led by Lord Mountbatten, into accepting the two-nation theory. Many of them wanted power at any cost and power they did get. Next worry was to keep it as long as possible. They soon forgot the message of the Father of the Nation that Congress workers should quit politics to do social service. They also forgot the message left behind by him of Gram Swaraj. Village development, said Gandhiji, was the key to the overall development of the nation. On the contrary, they went in for mega things, hoping that these would make the country prosperous. This has been disastrous to say the least. In the bargain the rich became richer and the poor poorer.

A veiled fraud

Democratic system that we inherited from the British was also a veiled fraud. Instead of being the government of the people, for the people and by the people, we now have the government of the politicians, for the politicians, and by the politicians. Almost all of the politicians, with an occasional exception, have become synonymous with corruption. The latter has been institutionalised in India.

Our democracy has become an instrument in the hands of the corrupt politicians to rob people of their hard-earned money as well as their happiness. Democracy here is another name for the cheating game that the politicians play. In this system hatred begets hatred. The opposition thinks its only role is to criticise the government and find fault with anything it does. On the other hand the ruling party thinks only of perpetuating its hegemony and tries to stick to the chair. In the bargain the greatest casualty seems to be the plight of the common man. Both the opposition and the government have become the arch enemies of the common man and they are the friends of the rich and the powerful! Money has become their God and making money their religion.

Then came the time to split this country further and the politicians chose language as a ploy. The first creation of Andhra Pradesh was only the beginning of the end. Then came the States' reorganisation, based on language in 1956-57. This is the next great damage done to our people. It has paved the way for further divisions with hatred, all over India. The South felt threatened by the imposition of Hindi and the North felt that it was their right to impose Hindi on all Indians. The North did not have an idea of the cultural and language diversity that existed in the South. In fact, the latter sustained the South. All people living in the South were Madrasis for the Northerners. Language based States was the beginning of the destruction of this country's philosophy of a single universal family.

Another mode of hatred

Then came another politician whose chair was shaky. He dug up another mode of hatred between people by trying to divide them on caste lines - to add salt to the already painful wound of untouchability, the old bane of our society, which Mahatma Gandhi tried to undo to a great extent. The country is thus divided on caste lines. Other politicians used this ruse to get votes in the name of caste, in addition to religion. Of course, there is a wide gulf, widening by the day, between the rich and the poor. One could say that the latter is a universal divide all over the world. The poor pay for their poverty with their lives anyway! So on and so forth the saga of divide and enjoy continues under different garbs from the time the Max Muellerians invented the hypothesis of the so-called Aryan Invasion of India. They claimed that the Indian natives, the Dravidians, were driven to the South by the Aryans that came from Central Asia, thus firing the first salvo in the never-ending human misery of splitting man from man. In fact, the word Arya in Sanskrit means a cultured man and we Indians were cultured people when the West was still roaming the forests. Indian and Chinese civilisations, probably with the Egyptian one, were some of the oldest human civilisations. The definition of civilisation then was to take man away from his animal instincts. The present definition is trying to make man hate another man.

While we claim that the great achievements in science have made it possible for man to land on the moon, I am afraid science has miserably failed to make man land in his neighbour's house with a smile on his face! Science seems to have lost its heart. Most of us have a case in the court against our neighbour. This is our civilisation today. The East India Company leaders, in trying to inject the poison of hatred between the Muslims and the majority community, after the 1857 Meerut mutiny completed Max Mueller's job. When they found out, to their dismay, that 42 per cent of the soldiers in the mutiny were Muslims while the then population of Muslims in Uttar Pradesh was only 1 per cent, they got a shock of their lives. They were shocked that the majority community and the Muslims loved one another like brothers. The East India Company would have difficulty in ruling this country if this religious harmony and camaraderie continued. They engineered ingenious ways to try and brainwash the minority community to hate their brethren. So goes the story of this great divide.

River waters

Today our leaders have surpassed all those cunning people in the past in destroying Indian ethos. They are trying their best to divide us forever on river waters. How can a country of the dimensions of India survive if each State thinks it is a country in itself? The present global village has forced even the European countries to form a Union to survive, while we are trying our best to destroy the beautiful well-knit country into bits and pieces, as if the previous invaders had not done enough to damage the Indian culture.

I could understand the politicians doing what they are doing, as it is their rice-bowl that they are trying to protect by instigating fights between groups to remain in power and to garner votes in the next elections. Politicians live on this kind of misunderstanding all over the world. What baffles me is the apathy of the media's do-gooders, who proclaim that they have a solution for every problem and pontificate through their editorials, have done precious little to educate the common man - that united we stand and divided we fall. Do they also want us to fall?

What of the judiciary? They also cannot look beyond their nose. I am sorry to have felt that way looking at the present craze of the public to take every conceivable dispute to the courts. Overburdened as they are, they have very little time left for thinking of the long term effects of their verdicts on the nation and the millions of people trying to make a living there. The bureaucracy has become totally subservient to the political class. They are also suffering from short- sightedness. They have set their eyes on cushy postings after retirement by pleasing their political masters, if not being parked in palatial Raj Bhavans in the evening of their lives. I must hasten to add that I have known some really committed people in the bureaucracy but, unfortunately, their numbers are very small; consequently, they have become ineffective. That class, however, is threatening to be extinct like the dinosaur!

Risk factor

With this background the only saving grace would be to educate our future generation to love one another and hate no one. Present medical science tells us that hatred is the most important risk factor for major killer diseases. This country had a hoary past where everyone was being treated as a near and dear one, caste, religion, creed, colour and language having been no bar at all. Let us try to take our younger generation in that path. Rivers and all other natural resources belong to every one of us, without any special love for one region compared to another region. Everything here belongs to God (Nature) and we, mortals, should try and live by letting others live. Man's greed and his proclivity for comfort would eventually destroy every God given resource of this planet, if unchecked!

My humble prayers to our "great" political leaders is that they could do anything to get votes except exploiting human vulnerability to harm humanity's long-term interest for their short-term gain in votes. Let them remember that when the day of reckoning comes it is the sincere and honest service done to another human being that counts and not the position that one held in life. Let them play the game well and not damage the whole of humanity to win the game. Democracy needs to be redefined and, if need be, our Constitution could even be changed. After all the framers of the Constitution, however brilliant they were, could not have been aware of the future developments in any sphere. Predicting the future, taking all eventualities into consideration, is well nigh impossible. We all have been predicting the unpredictable.

Let us have Indians in India and not language-based groups. While language is a very vital part of human life, one must learn to love human life much more than language, religion, caste, creed and colour. We must rise above the petty differences for the good of our next generation.

Vice Chancellor,
MAHE Deemed University, Manipal

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