12 May 2009

The idea of a nation (contd)

My comment on Kislay's post the idea of a nation was getting too long and hence this post.

the nation is still an idea, is a popular notion that exists among its citizens. Though its geographical boundaries exist, it seems to be gnawing away in the north and in the east . Any country that sits at its borders is playing with the idea of cutting across the existing border line or the people of the state is helping the country across the border to chew it – that is the first reason that india still exists as an idea.

One of my family members has immigrated into India and though he was raised in the central part of the country, he still feels emotionally closer to the state that speaks his native language. People like him exists in millions in india.

It was a bolt from the blue when I heard something called as “south india” exists , and that too no where else but at the orientation of international students in the university in the US – that is the 3rd reason why india as a nation is an idea. An anonymous comment adds their own perception "As much as JalianWala Bagh brings sadness and the thirst for revenge for many a so called Indian, it also brings out another point in post-independent India. The northerners, Hindi, Punjab and others were suppressed brutally by the Muslims, I mean literally butchered by the Moghals and Ghazni’s and also by the British. To this day some of them boast of their struggle against the British and the sacrifices of their Guru’s against the Muslims. But today in the rest of India northerners are proliferating their way of living and language just as the British were doing in the past. Hindi is a damn nuisance especially in the south of India. Their conniving business practices are not unknown to the locals and their refusal to respect the local culture and tradition is an abomination. It almost makes the locals wish the British were back and gave them a good old taste of the Raj. And the ghetto’s they are forming will lead to the disintegration of India which might result in more hatred and bloodshed. You have already seen the beginning of it in Mumbai!!!"

It has been proven that one is more closer to the region that one is raised in.One can see this dyanamisim in universities .All from the same region huddled in groups. Multiply this in millions across the country.This is the 4th reason.

The politics in every state is tied to its state – and tied mostly to religion and caste and dynamics of the land. In India the kid is raised to say words like “ I am a rajasthani or a maharashtrian or a Kannadiga or a jharkhandi and an Indian only second – This my friend put regionalism first. Thus not visualising themselves as an indian first. Add some more millions. This my friend is the 5th reason that the nation is a idea.

As school children millions of kids are not raised as saying “ we are the most powerful people in the land." We all were children first before growing up and we only know it too well – that children like to be the superlatives and that is eluding us as a visualiser. We have continued with the british education system,which was to exalt everything ‘english or western’ and look down upon anything indian(I hate using the word vernacular in the same sentence)–Count this as the 6th reason.

India’s government as a kingdom still exist – with the dynastic rulers becoming the majority party since its inception – call it the democratic tyranny. And as one of my washington classmates once told me, the british has left, but has left the british in the form of babus (the civil service offficer). the heavy beat of the british has jeopardised the process of thinking in india and has collapsed the idea of nation in existence. They made sure that religious violence spread like virus and it has become an epidemic. Sadly our nations leaders at the rebirth of india on the day of independence was more gluttoned with power than the idea of a “powerful nation”- and the current ‘young political big wigs’ are only chips of the old block. this my friend is another reason that india is cracked and its geographical boundaries are being drawn time after time and our indian leaders have no time governing the country because they are buzy playing chess recklessly within themselves – this my friend is the 7th reason that we are still debating and discussing.

India is buzy creating things for other countries and conveniently forgotten to create a governance for themselves.(why parliamentary or presidential system – there might be completely something else that works out for us, honestly I have not given a serious thought.) Our leaders became the FOLLOWERS of the british system and PHOTOCOPIED everything AND they pretended THAT THE NATION WILL BUILD ON ITS OWN. Power blinded them so much on 15th august,1947 that they thought that governance would blindly follow. intelligent leaders are becoming puppets in the hands of goons. Here's the 8th reason.In reality many parts of the country in parts is centuries old (who counted – 60 years?.

TO CARVE A GOVERNANCE is every generation’s work. India has not started it yet. – that is why india is still an idea. To add to it POLITICAL WILL is a word NOT found in the country’s dictionary and that is the only force that one needs to create a vision and a mission, goals, objectives and timelines to create a powerful, impressive country for the citizens to be proud of. Talking about it is one thing and working towards establishing a nation is another thing – A very serious note that is still not included in the idea!

DO NOT sit on the fence on the country or DO NOT HEDGE your own country. Nor mince the works that is required to prove again and again the existence of a COUNTRY. You do any one of this anytime,the idea of india as a nation is still only an idea !

I am not great with history nitty gritties so please expect the errors. Only a million or so think what you have written in practicality, though in theory it is all good. As much is the beauty of diversity in india, the same are its perils for nation building. It is a great visualiser,And a grand mission on hand. And the most important of all,as citizens we have not stepped up, which is where the locus of the failure lies.


Kislay said...

You have come up with good points . I agree with almost all of them , but I still believe that India is much more than an idea. An idea is easy , realizing it is tougher . And it has existed for quite some time , but not taken a concrete form . The walls were crumbling , but then every now and then , a VP Singh or a Thackeray comes along , not to mention the Laloo's,Mulayam's and Karunanidhi. If even 1 in 100 believes in India , that would be 11.2 Million people , and it will spread . We are nowhere close to the USA , but its not as if we haven't started .
I can say that part of my belief stems from the fact that I studied in a college which had people from all the states , I got to experience India , and loved it . And that is why I believe in it .

I was never taught that I am a Bihari first and an Indian next .

Kislay said...

And though, for me , India is much more than an idea , my post was about why it exists , and it should exist . Diversity has its perils , only when you play with it to suit your own needs . If you are not upsetting the balance (partition) , are willing to exist within it , then would it still be perilous ?

BK Chowla said...

It will ,probably date back to the time when Nehru decided to split the states on liguistic basis.Perhaps,it was a mistake.As for our politicians,the only thing matters to them is power,means are not important.We still follow some of the laws drawn-up during the Raj.The only way to change our thinking is to change the political class...they are the real culprits

Anrosh said...

kislay, having being based in the suburbs of bombay and having neighbours from across the country and married across religion, region, language - i have cut across many barriers.

the post is not about you or me , who think and want the nation as india, but the millions of others who think otherwise ( listed on my post ) is the reason that the idea has to reach conceptualisation. you can quote, vedas and the mahabharat and the ramayana, but others can misinterpret the same information and the knowledge that they have -- that is the point.

Many of the political leaders are brilliant but they can take any direction they choose to --

bk chowla -- the citizens too are the real culprits

Kislay said...

True .

"Many of the political leaders are brilliant but they can take any direction they choose to " .

Laloo Yadav would be a good example for that .

Smitha said...

Anrosh - I strongly agree with your last point - 'And the most important of all,as citizens we have not stepped up, which is where the locus of the failure lies. ' Yes, we as citizens are certainly to blame. But I would still like to believe that India is more than a concept :)

manju said...

Really good points, Anrosh, and true, too.

But I feel that these are the imperfections of Indian society. This does not mean that India does not exist in reality, and is only a concept.

The debates and discussions you mention are not going on everywhere in India. Mostly only the educated urban youth are engaged in debate.

As I have mentioned before, there are many people who work for the betterment of Indian society, but they do so in the villages and in the slums, and are not active on online forums and blogs.

That is why our urban educated youth do not know about them and think that there is no real India, as witnessed in the debate on the blog that Kislay mentioned.

And as for the problems in our country, whose duty is it to address them, if not our own?

manju said...

I wish there we had a forum to discuss these sort of issues in the same place, instead of on different blogs.:)

Anrosh said...

yes Smitha, it is time indian citizens own up responsibility and start doing things -

Manju -- I agree there is a difference between the perceptions, understanding and expectations between rural and urban. from where sharad pawar comes from he is the role model!! , though rural youths needs are differnt they look up to the urban youth ( aspirations ) - don't they. i agree there are many organizations working but nothing happens without policy changes.

i do not know how many advocacy movements are taking place in india to bring about necessary change. i can talk only about maharastra - take the vivek pandit who worked for the tribes -- few years ago he was standing for election with the same party that he opposed !

We have to do more than Do things - Empower them .

I am glad that Blogs have bought many like minded people together - it is a good start. - The result of this will be a grass roots movement -

Indyeah said...

An if there is one person whose words hold an honesty that is refreshing and also have power due to that sheer honesty that is you...

I agree with all your points here and at Kislay's post too...

your last line said it all

We as citizens ,each and every single one of us have not stepped up...we have failed somewhere...and that burden too rests on our shoulders and no other....

This is why I love blogging...because I know that there are so many people who while aware of the realities of India as a nation also refuse to give up hope...the dreamer , the realist and the visionary...we all have a little of each in us dont we?

and that is where it all has to be balanced...

I dont want to be a complete pessimist nor a complete dreamer with my head in the clouds..I want to dream and also see the brutal truth so that I know what I have to change and the dreams that I have to make come true...some way or the other...

India will always be an idea...it will never be defined for, it will be foolhardy to even attempt it...

India survives because of her people like you, Kislay, manju, Solilo , Smitha,Vinod Sir,IHM and so many others...people who believe.....that India will surive..

Smitha's post said it as beautifully as you have An...both of you have put the points coherently....:))

Vinod_Sharma said...

After being shaken like Kislay was by the some of the comments on Nita's blog, it has indeed been a refreshing journey going through Kislay's and your posts and the comments they have generated. My faith in India and its diversity which is its strength, not weakness, has been strengthened.

Yes An, we have have a grand mission on hand and need to realise it and make it a success

Indyeah said...

An your comments on my India post..just read them again today and loved them!absolutely loved them!here they are:)))
and if it was not all what you said, i will still love this land because that is what where i was born and raised in and learnt to walk and read and write and that is what will help me walk through the earth irrespective of borders.

This land gave refuge to the Jews and Iranians.
This land gave cover to everybody who fled away from tyrannical rule because they were protected.
Its arms were always open. it still is. ( it landed us into trouble too!)
and some of the natives Americans came from India too.
thank you An :))

Anrosh said...

vinod -- what i read on nita's blog is but a reality that if any blogger personally would make a post would be shot at. But that has not prevented me in taking the practical issues of why india is like a twig bundled into 25 states as i say in one of mavins posts.

Indyeah, India as a geographical country is where I was born and raised in and my liking of the land will never decrease. But India still has to evolve as a nation. There is Much work to do - starting with what kind of governance?
School Curriculums at the grass roots level, state constitutions etc, etc. if ever this idea of nation has to come true.

When I sit back and think about it - every state is differnt...going back to the rurual towns - each village has its own flavour and we are trying to accomodate everybody. I am not saying there won't be problems, but trying to pretend that the problem does not exist is not somethign we should do.

As I said to Kislay, people have the information - they can interpret the way they want.

Politicians for their politics
corporations for thier pocket
for individulas to live in their "egoistic bliss" etc etc
And raise conflicts such as , why should it be theirs and why not mine etc etc..

This my friend is a practical problem -- many such practical problems exist in the country as I mention.

As I said the idea of india is grand, let's start solving the puzzle, this time not with assumuptions. In this I am not cynical we might not find the exact formula, but we have be able to find appropriations far better than what we have now and the riots caused due to the differences in our country. Ever wonder why pakistan attacked India unafazedly in Novemeber ?
And to hear it from neighbours and colleagues that "india did nothing but light up candles" does that show cowardice than what else?
i like to be romantic and i like to be a realist too.
Our politicians as i said before are brilliant and have made concotions to make themselves richer and the respective state adnd the countries poorer. i have even read that some of the countries bigwigs have money in the swiss bank where the 20 generations can sit back and relax and have fun playing dynastic politics in india.

india has been hospitable to foreigners generously, but we haven't taken the time to sort the threads that make up this geographical bundle called India that has some viruses and epidemics to be solved. Talk about policies and laws to be in place is yet another story --

Anrosh said...

Indyeah, you are indeed very sweet to dig up the old comment.

vinod, what we read on Nita's blog is but a reality of the millions of voices that subscribe to the same opinion translated into stereotpe, pracitices, traditions, beliefs and the conflicts created there of. It is but a reality, we can't go hiding away from it.
If I start writing my personal story and the things that i had to go through having cut across religion, region,caste -- you will hear the same sound. To add to it the extremists and radicals in MH are a Goonda. such goonda's exist in every state. But moderation also does abide. I once had a maharashtrian boyfriend, who said, if we marry you should become a maharashtrian -- that was opening a hornet's nest on me. In my eyes I was nothing else but an MH having being raised and lived all my life until I left for other opportunities. Thugs like that exist ( he was also a shiv sena guy,) but it is for the other person to be assertive and put the leg in its soil and stay put and command thier existence and survival if I may say so. Maharastrians have a problem with a a lot of communites, because they think that other communities are coming to take up their jobs in Bombay. Because I was raised their no local can deny me anything. it is also a fact that the suburb of bombay is my home and anybody telling me to get out from my home i 'll put up a fight. ..such cases exist everywhere. Every time we put up a fight the threatening voice will mellow down and slowly give up --

Solilo said...

Anrosh, I agree to almost every point you mentioned. I also believe that being Indian is a proud moment and just as similar is appreciating the state you belong to.

You know a dear friend from Bihar told me that her parents didn't bother to teach her Maithili which is almost extinct because Hindi is more widely spoken in the state now. I still believe that people should keep their state identity too and not forget that every small unit comes together to form India. In the wake of being united, people often forget who they are and want uniformity.

Let their be diversity and people respect that.

When Chirag had asked me to send a 2 liner on India, I sent him " In India at every state border we have a totally different culture. It is like there is a totally different country at every border". Many don't respect that diversity and forcing uniformity in the name of patriotism is what alienates people.

In the end I just want to say that with all the differences if we still feela lot about our country esp. when there is an outside attack then there sure must be charming about our country and us. :) So cheers to that spirit.

Anrosh said...

solio, wrto what you have said..

but which state do you belong to ? a tricky question especially in the light of the discussion on kislays and nita's blog - the ones from where your ancestors are, or where your grandmother migrated to or where your parents raised you?

say in another 30 years we won't have too many such state identities -becuse of the increasing number of cross marriages and larger mobile population -- it will be one big kichdi --

i know a guy who's last name is agrawal and raised in punjab/delhi (and visited UP and has a bihari ancestery) and in your wildest guess you will never find out that he says he is a mallu, because of his mallu mom -- so in order to avoid such explainations - he safely says i am from delhi -- end of conversation.

at the end of it is also the microcosam called the individual- what makes him happy or whatever works for him -

Kislay said...

Reading Solilo's and yours comment , it reminds of the day I discovered my Punjabi and Maharashtrian connections . When I was in my ancestral place , I was told , that my great-great-great-great-great Grandfather had arrived in this part of Bihar from Punjab , about 200 years ago . And soon , my mother told me , that from her side of the family , some ancestor had migrated from Maharashtra , many years ago . The reason ? The immensely fertile land I guess . But , boy oh boy , didn't that make me ecstatic . That gave a solid boost my already soraing sense of Indian-ness .

Anrosh said...

we call such kids a "kichdi" - in a good way of course. another example ( mother's one side is kannada, the other bengali --raised in bombay now married to a punjabi ( whom you will mistaken him to be a catholic --hearing his slangs -because where he grew around had a very large catholic base)

people who have extremely strong identities of state have being raised in the state of their ancestors and have not lived elsewhere in the country - hence the strong identity.

politicians wouldn't be able to play with this factor for their vote bank for too much long -

Destination Infinity said...

In Chennai, where I was born and brought up, Tamil is the most dominant language. Most of the people there don't know hindi and what more, even the north Indians settled there learn Tamil. But my mother tongue is Telugu and the language widely spoken in Bangalore where I live is Kannada. Even though I have a connection to three different states and three different languages, I don't find any difference between the people of those three states at all, except maybe the language! I think India is not just an Idea, it is very much a country. There are bound to be a lot of problems with such a huge multi polar society stung together, but what is missed in this discussion and most of the others is: Are there not any advantages to being an Indian living in India amidst the diversity? We tend to exaggerate the negative points more and that is good - it will help us identify and negate them.

Destination Infinity

Sraboney said...

India is not just an idea but also a country...It's diversity not only makes it interesting but also strong...Regionalism has been kept alive by politicians who only want votes...I hope we don't go the way Yugoslavia has - it would be a shame...

Indian Homemaker said...

I am really late here Anrosh, but can't help commenting after reading the reasons for why India as a Nation is just an idea. All that you have written is quite true.
In many ways we are a divided (or diverse lot).
The diversity started becoming divides only when our politicians started finding it profitable. From a practical point I would say if India as a nation is only an idea than isn't it a brilliant, practical idea?
I think it is an idea worth putting up a fight for, because as a nation we are a strong nation, and we have a strong unifying Constitution to protect us from our politicians and their politics.

It seems whenever there are problems we find some politician is benefiting from them. Totally agree with the last part and the last line...
And the most important of all,as citizens we have not stepped up, which is where the locus of the failure lies.I guess we are learning, albeit very slowly.

vishesh said...

For me India means a lot . Yet all those points you raised make me think India is something notional . And more that the real devil the reservation system ..

I have written a few poems on my country(no I am not contradicting myself , I have been brought up in a family where respect for India is high and so inside my head the wonderful entity lives) ...My passion for the land is high but patriotism has become synonymous with scarifies..and scarifies according to me is sacrilege - it defies one major aspect of every cell , to live for itself and its future( future gen.) ...-and of course after that they place your bust on the roads and crows come and sit on you and symbolically tells you what people think of what you did anyway...

The major problem here is people to need to understand and as you pointed out our education system is gone ..the thought unfortunately is being raped and anyone who comes in the way gets killed ...

I sometimes am a lone thinker in a room full of idle-ists and being the alien , the majority just gets curious but at my slightest movement thinks I am there to destroy them ..and adapting to the psuedo human ways are tough , my brain has been formed to think and does do that...

an said...

hello ihm, how are you ?
i guess we are learning..that is a good thing -- actually we all are relearning..

hi vishesh - the reservation system has reached ot such a level that good brains are being exported! actually that is far better than being frustrated and being lost as an individual - but loss for the country.

vishesh -there is a book - breaking free of nehru --worth a read -
i like the word idleists -- but vishesh think it this way -- the blog is a huge powerful medium to interact and convey with no edits of a the publisher, editor and the press who only wants to portray a certain something...

welcome vishesh

vishesh said...

I agree and well coming across blogs like yours and Indyeah's is what keeps me to blogging... :) and I will try to get those books :)

Charakan said...

Good post. For most ppl around the world India was and is a reality. The quest to reach the land of great wealth and learning made many European explorers to erroneously name ppl in other continents Indians. India is the sum of experinces and hopes all those lived and died in this geographic area.India is a land of diversity and both Karunanidhi and Thakhrey represent that. Genuine greivences has to be addressed by the State and should not be rubbished off. India's intellect was and is always so vibrant that it had always included those who questioned the idea of India itself as you in see comments in Nita's blog.

Georg said...

Hallo Anrosh,

If I understand you correctly, you seem to regret that present India is partly only an idea.

If you consider the fact that present-day India exists for the first time since Ashoka, more than 2000 years ago, then I don't see any reason for your loss of patience.

Here in Europe, the nation-states you know, like France, Germany, Poland, Great Britain, Russia etc. needed hundreds of years to achieve what you see now and consider as iron-clad.

Thus I think, personnally, that much has been done since 1947, when the Britishers left.

In a nutshell, take your time, drink tea and be patient.


B Shantanu said...

Anrosh: You and your readers will find these links interesting...




The question of an Indian identity (or indeed identity) is not an easy one to explore..so well done on the blog post.

In fact, the post on which you left a comment (on my blog) is also indirectly related to the question of identity - in this case, SRK's identity.

What do you think?

Anrosh said...

Hello Shantanu, You know better -when it comes to celebrities - they pick those variables that can bring them more market share.
why did SRK pick this up ?-- forward thinking may be.

Akshay said...

I dunno, found this too deviating. Didn't understand a lot. Many parts are very eloquent, but the views conveyed are such that (no offence), I'm actually laughing.So basically what do you want to say?
Some Winston Churchill like statement? "India is a geographical term?"

Calling oneself a Bihari or a Rajasthani isn't a crime. The regionalism crap has been done to death. There is nothing wrong in asserting your region/religion, so long as it doesn't deride the others' region/religion.

Here I cannot resist :P Your view is an oft "photocopied" very western view of ignoring/negating the regional identities of a billion people and forcibly bringing them under a single umbrella.

It's like saying "I'll treat all people equally. Equality principle. So no preferential treatment to my sister." Won't work in India.

India, by definition, is a Union of States. There is no cultural/historical reason why a Punjabi and Tamilian should be together. They are because of a mutual requirement of each other . Call it a business partnership, or a poll alliance. That is why India is us.

Most of the northern/southern states atleast have some cultural similarities. What of the northeast?

Any Indian state is fully within its right to secede from the Union if it so feels. Somewhat related is the 1950s Tamil circus.

What was I laughing at?

Your points on the education system,corruption,etc. are valid and I agree, it is the citizens' lethargy that is the real cause of many of our problems, but apart from the last, none of the other have any relevance to the "Indian" idea at all. The poor Babus you're venting yourself at are one of the uniting factors.

And absolutely no need to give any kind of currency to clowns like Thackeray and Karunanidhi. We're taking them too seriously.

Uniting factors :
1)Armed Forces.
2)Civil Services.
3)Intellectual/Educational/Scientific institutions - IIT,ISRO,BARC,etc.etc.etc.
4)Religious/cultural factors- e.g. Mass media (DD,AIR),Sport,Film/TV

There is no need to debate on the origins of the above (many of them are courtesy the British),it isn't relevant.

Anyway 62 years of intermingling, of North Indians abusing South Indians and vice versa, of Santa-Banta jokes and Quick Gun Murugun and of state-state migrations have led to the rise of a remarkable class of people who consider it convenient to call themselves "Indian" for want of a better identity.

My father is from Kerala. He grew up in Calcutta. My mother is a Telugu who grew up in Madras. I've lived in Maharashtra most of my life.

So what do you call me? If not an Indian, what else?

But I am in complete agreement with this :

As much is the beauty of diversity in india, the same are its perils for nation building. It is a great visualiser,And a grand mission on hand. And the most important of all,as citizens we have not stepped up, which is where the locus of the failure lies.

The uplifted,emancipated, cosmopolitan section needs to mobilize the marginalized at the grassroots. That's coz they're the most vulnerable targets for filth like Karunanidhi and Thackeray. The naxal mess is also noteworthy.

But the sad truth is they(we) seemed to have abandoned the masses. :(
The laziness is disgusting. But it's also a relief to "Indians" like me as we're so lazy that one region will never take up arms against another. Even killing people is an effort,after all :)

It's another matter if the people who take up the arms belong to the dissatisfied section of society :|

Anrosh said...

akshay, there is a only a small percentage of people in india who will identify themselves as indians because your ancestors come from different part of the country. we in maharastra have a multicultural existence so we won't feel the differnce. step up into the north and the south, you will feel the difference. and the abandoning of the north east by the central government ( it is a shame. may be tomorrow china will pick up the parts and leave. )

the genesis of this post is found here :http://nitawriter.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/kashmir-through-the-eyes-of-a-kashmiri/.

followed by kislay's post of may 11, the idea of a nation. the link is on my post.

welcome akshay.

Akshay said...

akshay, there is a only a small percentage of people in india who will identify themselves as indians because your ancestors come from different part of the country

This small percentage is also the more fortunate section of society. The middle-class, upper-middle class public who live in cosmopolitan cities like Bombay and Bangalore. It's their (our) duty to enter the system and uplift the marginalized.

But we don't. Our "aspirations" are little more than getting US citizenship or securing a job in an MNC.

And in rural areas, the people may not consider themselves "Indian" but they discharge all the duties expected of a citizen of the Union. And admirably so. It's us "Indians" who are the cause of half the problems.

We could become "India-The Nation" from the "Union of India" if all the people acquire a basic standard of living.

Because it's poverty and squalor that is the real fodder for divisive scumbags like Thackeray.

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