Thursday, May 14, 2009

Uthishta Bharata

I dreamt of Chanakya last night. Not surprising since he is one of my favorite histroical figures. Also because I believe in Chanakya's dream. The dream of Akhand Bharat..United India.

I got a rude jolt when I read Nita's post titled "Kashmir through the eyes of a Kashmiri" lead there by Kislay's brilliant post "The Idea of a Nation". I was shocked by the comments on Nita's blog and I seriously thought I must have been sleeping when Diversity and Patriotism went out of fashion. Or maybe as Kislay says there is a Patriotic gene which I deinitely have inherited in plenty. I am also exuberantly optimistic as far as my country goes. I consider myself a global citizen but identify myself as an Indian first, then a Dogra from Jammu and Kashmir, who married a Bihari and has an Oriya sister-in-law. I have friends from Kerela, AP, TN, Rajasthan, WB, Maharashtra, Goa,Meghalaya, Manipur, Sikkim, UP,...Hindus, Muslims,Christians,and Buddhists

My immediate reaction to the particular post was anger.Kislay's post took away some of the hurt but I was mad enough to write a post which was reactionary and almost incoherent. Sanity returned and I deleted it with a promise of a post written in a better frame of mind. So here it is:

I am dismayed by the secessionist remarks but I believe everyone is entitled to an opinion. Though this kind of entitlement taken too far can be very dangerous, because not only does it threaten Nation Building efforts but also the World Peace at large. Primarily because if diversity is the issue, we are doomed. What and who is similar in absolute terms...thoughts, actions, language, orientation, religious practices, color, race, physical attributes etc.? Those who claim that any community is united because of a common geographical boundary,language,food,religion,way of dressing etc. are not being completely honest. There are divisons and sub-divisons and then further divisions based on the most inane of things.

Fair enough that as a Mumbaikar who in most liklihood migrated to the city from Tuljhapur, Ratnagiri or Aurangabad and earlier never faced the troubles of fast worsening problems of overcrowding and crumbling infratructure, the 'outsider' be it a 'bhaiya' from Jaunpur or Saharsa is the easiest punching bag. I would be angry too after battling through an Andheri or Virar Local. I would be very angry when I have to get up at 5 a.m to fill water because there will be no water supply during the rest of the day. I would be angrier still because my childern have no parks to go to. I might also feel threatened when I see huge crowds thronging Juhu beach during "Chhat" (a Bihari/U.P festival which celebrates the Sun God). But does the solution lie in thrashing the Bhaiya who moved from his village because his children were dying from hunger. Unlike the many Indians who move to the US or elsewhere desiring a better life, this Bhaiyaji was merely trying to survive.

As a Tamilian I might be furious at having to accept Hindi as my National Language. Tamil Nadu being a land of the great Sangam Literature. It is most likely that the question,that on what grounds was Hindi chosen over a rich language like Tamil will perhaps always remain in a Tamilian's mind. Personally I would choose Sanskrit as a National Language any day. But I was not asked and I am not a political player or an actvist citizen as yet (by my own choice) who can color and influence such decisions.So who am I to complaint?

As a Dogra, a Hindu from J&K who believes that my people have been caught in the crossfire between the Kashmiri Pandits and the Kashmiri Muslims (all the dirty politics included),I am very mad. I am sure the Ladakhis, Gujjars, Bakerwaals, Paharis, Poonchis etc are also not happy. There are more players than just Kashmiri Pundits and Kashmiri Muslims of which the country at large seems to be unaware of.
As a Dogra again, who speaks Dogri I have lived my life with a sense of identity crisis which is not amusing. I have not met any Indian, in India or abroad barring a few ( I could count them on my fingers) who are aware of the Dogra identity. I can relate to what many of the isloated North East Indians from Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland might feel.
Growing up,I travelled all over the country and my family never found another person who spoke our language. We just integrated versus assimilated with other similar regional, linguistic groups. We picked up many Indian languages, mouth watering recipes and a rich variety of textiles in the process. And yes it has never shaken my faith in India.

As an Indian I might be angry at the Bihari who excels in all the premier institutes...IIT, IIM the UPSC Exams but fails to take responsibility for Bihar. I am angry at the apathy and denial I see in Bihar. I am also angry at Maharashtrians who believe they own Mumbai and are a united force against the North Indians, whatever that really means.I have best friends who are Maharashtrians who complaint and tell tales of strained relationships between the orthodox Maharashtrian Brahmins and the lower castes. They get along better with their North, South, East Indian friends versus a stuck up Konkanasth Brahman. I am angry with the auto driver in Chennai or Bangalore who understands Hindi or English but pretends not to. It pains me to see my fellow contrymen from the South who think the North Indians are a roudy, uncouth lot. And it also pains me to see North Indians who make harsh judgements about the South Indians. The Bengali who sings only 'Amar Shonar Bangla' , 'Mera Bharat Mahaan' being conspicuously absent.

But these are aberrations which will probably remain. And I think and fervently pray that such people are also few and far in between.They are a result of divisive state politics, upbringing,misplaced anger, lack of vision and corrective action and more. It is also a result of talking of only RIGHTS and not RESPONSIBILITY.I will not waste my time in talking about the fact that such diferences are a universal phenonmena. The only variable factor being the degree and nature of differences.

I feel sorry for a thought process which measures the value of a state and a people by its functionality,productivity,and usefulness. I am referring to some arguments supporting 'cutting off' the BIMARU States, NE, Kashmir...Where such a reasoning exists, is it a surprise that we see the rise of old age homes, increasing divorce rates and an over all crumbling of the social institutions all in the name of being "practical".I view my country as my extended family. I may complaint,differ,hate dislike somethings/someone... but a break up is unthinkable.

We are a nation in its infancy.As a realist I know things are not perfect. In fact far from it. But what is not perfect is not what we just throw away. And I heard this somewhere and I think it is equally important to remember that perfection could be very different from what we imagine it to be.

Finally I thankfully have seen more who identify themselves as an Indian first and anything else later. "Desi" is the umberella under which the Indians from different parts of India happily huddle under, atleast in the part of US I am temporarily residing in.

I must tell you a little story. I am giving a presentation in my 4 year old's pre-school on India, its family and education system, cultural and religious beliefs. This is to help the American teachers better handle the Indian child who eats with his hands, sleeps with his parents and liberally oils his hair irrespective of his region, language and faith. My son's teacher was flabbergasted that the 3 Indian students in her class, spoke different languages. As a matter of fact their cuisines differ too. One speaking Gujrati, the other Marathi and mine being exposed to Dogri, Hindi, Bhojpuri and Maghi/Magadhi. She was amazed that we had 18 official languages and God knows how many dialects. She said to me: "If this was the case in America, we would not be able to functional at all". I have no words to describe the pride I felt in my people and my country which is so fresh out of a foreign rule which systematically and deliberately broke our faith and pride in our religion,culture and nation. The country will slowly and surely emerge from the shadow of its past.The cycle of ups and downs is never ending but the faith, 'vichaar'(thought) and 'kriti'(action) towards One Nation should remain intact.

One should certainly not create a nation on the basis of faith.But I know for one, that faith and culture teach the lesson of loyalty to one's motherland.

I renew my commitment to my country. I also realize that there is a need for more action than talk. The differences therein are more imagined than real and the so professed similarities fragile. Let these words resonate within us and spur us to action: Rise India Rise!!!

I say this prayer:

Samani va akuti samana hridyani va
smanmastu vo mano yatha va sushaasati


(Roughly translated: May our thinking, vision and hearts become one, and this one is true, divine and beautiful.)


In the end I leave you with one of my favorite clips from Chanakya. Please do visit it at(since I am unable to load it for some reason) :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPOygiEpE4I

29 comments:

Poonam J said...

I am lucky to be the first one to read such a beautiful, heart warming post.So many of your sentences I shall reflect on, and this one I second with all my heart....I view my country as my extended family. I may complaint,differ,hate dislike somethings/someone... but a break up is unthinkable.
Like many of us, I love my country, I have benefited from its diversity.Freedom in its true aspect exsists here. I may be critical of its systems but yes I have great hopes for my country, my motherland. I can set foot anywhere in the globe...but my country , right or wrong...is me. I am above all an Indian first...
Very well written, and am glad you took the time to write it in a better frame of mind...Yes India shall Rise, its taking a step forward, slowly but steadily.

J P Joshi said...

Agree with you 100%. I really felt good reading your sane thoughts on our country. As an ex member of the defence forces of India, I can say that we defended, and still do, not only the geographical boundaries of the country, but also the core values of our country, as enshrined in our constitution - one of the finest repository of understanding of human nature, wants, desires and the art and science of living in a diverse society.

Yes, our biggest strength is our diversity and we must make all efforts to preserve it at any cost. I second my wife's comments above. "We just integrated versus assimilated with other similar regional, linguistic groups", religions, skin colours and what have you. Having moved around throughout the length and breadth of the country, I too feel the same, as you have so beautifully put across. Under similar provocation, I had one day written a post on "My India, Your India, Our India". It is heart wrenching to see some narrow minded, short sighted individuals come out with divisive thoughts and actions.

Thank God, they are a small minority and that the macro picture of India as 'Vasudeva Kutumbum' is still picture perfect, despite our numerous shortcomings.

Shuuro said...

We will always find such selfish people among our billion population. We saw disgusting behavior of such people during khandhar hijack episode, they have no qualms in giving up J&K or any state for sake of their relatives safety. For them, nation building or sacrifice doesn't take precedence over their selfishness and have no shame in enjoying freedom provided by the selfless people, who believe in our diversity & unity. I guess infestation of such people are more at nita's blog.

manju said...

Wonderful post, Chrysalis!

This subject has been going on for a few days now, and I have already commented on Kislay's and Anrosh's posts.

I would like to repeat, though, that this is not merely our country. This is our motherland. And none of Bharatmata's children could bear to let her be cut up into pieces.

I also think that most of the narrow-minded comments at the blog you mentioned, were not made with any deep thought, but merely to provoke arguments.

wordsndreamz said...

That was a lovely, sensible post! As Poonam J says, ' I may complaint,differ,hate dislike somethings/someone... but a break up is unthinkable.' Unless we accept the diversity and start being proud of it - instead of expecting everybody to be the same.. things will stand the way they are.. What I fail to understand is - assuming that India is forced to break up - will all be rosy? Won't there be any differences then? Are our differences so big that they cannot be overcome? It really surprises me that even today, people talk in these terms.. There are so many things we have to be proud of.. As you say - I will always be Indian first.. Even though I have been away from India for the last few years - the only thing that keeps me going is the certainity that I will be back!
As for the national language.. what I would think is - if it is such an issue - lets just have English as the 'official' language - and every state can use its own.. just the way it has been going on.. You know something, I have seen one thing I really admire here in the UK. Every GP's surgery, library hospital etc have 'welcome', in multiple languages - despite English being their national language.. I wish we could have that in India too.. The respect for all Indian Languages.. That, I think may reduce the alienation that some sections of society feel..For that aleination to reduce - we need strong political will to stop dividing people based on language, religion, caste and creed,instead try and bring everybody together.. Even in places which are strongly cosmopolitan - it is the politics that strives and succeeds to divide people.. Wonderful, thought provoking post!

Kislay said...

You know my views on this :) . I have nothing new to add . Your observation about perfection reminded me of a post I wrote long back . Do read it

Ashwadhy said...

Brilliant post... you had me nodding at every line. Our diversity...'the melting pot' to most is definitely unimaginable.

I'am proud to be an Indian and I believe in us, in our nation in our future.... What leads us on is the hope.

Indyeah said...

After Kislay's post thank you for this post as well..

My views too are pretty strong on this matter Chrysalis...
commented pretty much the same thing on Kislay's and Anrosh's posts...


India is my country and my motherland...and when some talk of her like they did which hurtit is at moments like these that I feel sheer despair...

what do I have to be optimistic about when there are people in my own country who seek to divide?

so I will simply say this Chrysalis thank you for this post...
more later in my post....

I echo Poonam Ji's views as well as Joshi Sir's ....and yours for sure...

India shall indeed rise!
Amen!

Chrysalis said...

Poonam Ji: Thank you so much. You say it beautifully when u say, my country right or wrong is me.

Joshi Sir: I salute you for your services to the otherland. And yes I too believe my ciuntry's strength is its diversity and sanskriti above all. Vasudeva Kutumbkam is something I totally believe in.

Shuuro. Wecome here. And yes the good and the bad all reside here. And nation building is more about responsibilities than rights. I just hope who do not believe in this are fewer in number versus the believers.

Manju ji: Thanks. Yes motherland is how I see it and fragmenation is complete no no. And yes you could be right, the arguments on Nita's blog could be thoughtless provocations but dangerous nonetheless.

Smitha: Thanks. And yes why should we be like peas of the same pod. and yes we will always differ on the smallest of issues. Language is also a non issue. The barriers are in the mind more than anything else. We need to rise above such petty differences which are more imagined than real.

Kislay: Yes I am aware of your point of view and thank God for people like you. You give me hope :)

Ashwadhy: Thank you my Mallu friend. You must be celebrating the handsome Tharoor's win :)

Indyeah: Again,we need more people like you who stand strong on this issue on One nation and love and loyalty for motherland. "India shall indeed Rise"...my prayer too.

saima said...

wow!! what a beautifully written post!! I mean, it was like you had written my thoughts!!!
I agree with all the comments here, now i am brimming with patriotism, so let me end my comment by saying *JAI HIND* :)

Chrysalis said...

Saima: Thanks and welcome to my space. And you couldn't have said it better..Jai Hind!!!

Nisha said...

oh, im a patriotic person as well. i love it when we cheer our country together whn it wins something like T20 world cup. at the same time it disheartens me to see the same people divided when IPL starts.
we may be a nation who cribs abt everything. a north indian might criticize how a south indian survives on sambhar and has coconut in everything. but when something like a tsunami strikes, everyone contributes. any blast in delhi saddens entire india.
and so we have hope. a hope for this great country that has survived every crises and has stood together with all its differences.
makes me proud to b an Indian!

Nisha said...

and ya, brilliant post. i generally skip long posts...but this one was well put :)

Chrysalis said...

Nisha: Thanks. I am certainly guilty of loooong posts. Editing is not my expertise or I just have too much to say :). Anyways thanks for reading my sometimes tediously long posts.

hindustatement said...

New here. Loved your post bravo!

Chrysalis said...

Hindustatement: Welcome here and thanks. I think you would also find my post "No Apologies for being Religious" interesting.
http://manukhajuria.blogspot.com/2009/04/no-apologies-for-being-religious.html

B Shantanu said...

Great post Chrysalis...

For India to rise ("Uttishtha"), what we need - before anything else - is resolve.

I see that resolve in you and your readers..

After that we need action...And by that I do not mean solitary, fragmented and uncoordinated acts but a movement, a mass movement....which is easier said than done.

But we need to begin somewhere...and the following post is one such attempt..

Do read it...I believe it will resonate strongly...

http://kl.am/shantanu

Ananya said...

whoa!!! well stated!!! whatever u'v written stands 2 b absolutely true....itz a prevalent trend in Maharashtra deese days...the mindset of raj thackeray the Maharashtra Nav-Nirman Sena chief seems to have taken over all genuine feelings of one's national identity...the treatment of the North Indians(Bharis in particular) is to say....unethical...the anti-bihari campaign that they r promoting der dese days...is utterly unconstituional.....sum thing needs 2 b done...at evry level...itz not jst abt sum govt. body stepping 4ward..n enforcing sum law..abt it....itz all abt...changing d mindset f the ppl dere...

Chrysalis said...

Shantanu: Welcome. I am so glad to see you here. I totally agree with you what we need is a mass movement, a revolution in the way we think and act.

Ananya: Rightly said. Change in the way we think. Not just in Maharashtra but in Bihar too. In fact this should be a country wide phenomenon.

Vibs said...
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Vibs said...

I am going to mail your blog everyone I know !

Vibs said...
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Vibs said...
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Vibs said...
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Crouching Tigress said...

Hindi is not the national language of India. Who said so? It is the principal official language of India. Please do not confuse the two! Neither the Indian constitution nor the Indian law specifies a national language!

Adarsh Kalmath said...

There is nothing called as "National Language" in India. Hindi and English are official languages for communication for Central Government Departments and Agencies.

Neeraj Singh said...

Hi Chrysalis, Although I am sure you have a different identity, your thoughts are highly appreciative. I am sure there are lot of Indians who share this view of what your mind has portrayed in black & white. If you get a chance, pl do visit the below site & do pen your thoughts there too. I would also like to post this article of yours on the below site, with all your permission.

www.uttishthabharat.com

All in all, we feel alike but just that we are still far too off. We are yet not united as we do shy away to practice certain things in public that we may like doing on web or in private (my personal opinion). Idea shall be to come together, as much as possible, & bring all such people to such closeness that these views create impact on others too. Not by force rather by choice.

Jai Ho
Uttishtha Bharat

Chaitanya Sharma said...

It is one of the most amazing blogs i have ever read.Kudos!Hats off to you my friend!

Uthishta Bharata!

Ghushe said...

I like the intent of the post, and respect the emotion behind it. But, i have something to add. Try to self-examine the cause of discomfort at separatist ideas or ideas that insult or abuse the nation. 150 years back no one from south India would have mind a Kashmiri, refusing to call himself an Indian. Because being Indian had nothing to do with pride, and precisely therefore noone had an incentive of not calling oneself Indian. It started becoming a problem of pride, when we started looking at India as a nation, as opposed to a civilization. 'Nation' is an idea we borrowed from the west, and is a highly impoverished, divisionist, hatred-causing, idea; compared to an idea of a civilizaton - which is rich, integrating, and not bound by geographic limitation. Nations are nexus industries, civilizations are open arts. So i conclude that nationalism is bad, it teaches us to ignore and even hate the truth when it against our nation. As opposed to patriotism which is the love of what we consider our land and people... And truth, even bitter, can be told to those we love. Therefore, i suggest distinguishing the diverse and rich India that you love from the impoverished idea of 'republic of India'. For more details on why 'nation state' idea and nationalism is harmful for India, I suggest you read Gandhi's book "Hind Swaraj". A lot of our agony reduces by that book. Especially that agony which is cause by clinging to the idea of India as a nation state. Ironically, we call him the father of the Nation.