The Missing Indian

History has, time and again proved that the loosening of moral bonds is often the first stage of disintegration of a civil society. We blame the British for their policy of ‘Divide and Rule’. However, unfortunately this policy is still followed in our country.

India and Pakistan were formed in 1947 as a result of the Divide and Rule that the British imposed on us. If it were not for Sardar Patel, India would have been not divided into two territories, but 200 different units. Today, our politicians are undoing what Sardar Patel did several years ago to link our country into a common thread. We are undoing all his efforts and those of the other freedom fighters by dividing the older states into new ones, citing better administration. The fact, however, remains that we have multiplied bureaucracy and perpetuated casteism and regionalism in doing so.

Every country has one common binding factor for its survival and existence, “unity”. Without a binding factor, ‘Unity in Diversity’ is a hollow phrase. I guess the one factor that India lacks today is the ‘Indian’. When we leave the ‘Indian’ behind then the regional factors, such as linguistic, racial, religion, casteism, among others, become stronger and more prominent and our real identities and responsibilities as Indians takes a back seat. These factors ultimately threaten the principle of national integration.
Casteism is one factor that has become a tool for gaining political power. How many times do we see that caste of a person takes precedence over being an ‘Indian’? Not just this, regionalism, too has contributed to its share of creating a divide among the “people” of our country. The new-found concept of ‘Sons of Soil’ is causing greater intolerance towards people who migrate from one state to another. Instead of showing far-sightedness and tackling these issues with courage, our politicians run for cover every time such issues come up. Regionalism and casteism are getting bigger than our identity as an Indian.
To gain political mileage and promote regionalism and casteism, Mayawati wants Uttar Pradesh to be divided into three states. There is demand for separate Telangana in Andhra Pradesh. We have already seen that the states, which were divided previously, have shown no sign of progress. But the politicians have made their playing field bigger by doing so and taken unreasonable decisions to gain political mileage and power in these states.
It is a common saying that “We become perfect in what we learn daily because we practice it repeatedly.” Politicians are trying to make each of us realise that we belong to particular community, speak specific language, have different cultures and this is leading us to feel that we are not ‘Indian’ first, and put our religions and castes before our Indianness. Regional and vested issues are taking the place of national issues. We are perhaps the only nation where “apartheid” and racism is practiced with the consent of citizens.
It is often seen that politicians focus on regional groups to gain votes. The Thackerays have already excluded South Indians, Muslims and North Indians from their own Mumbai. The Assamese kill Bihari workers at building sites. In Orissa, Sangh Parivar attacks Christians and the chief minister looks on benignly. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu fight over the issue of Cauvery water. Narendra Modi wants to protect Gujaratis all over the world but is not concerned about Gujarati Muslims in his state. Karunanidhi seeks mileage by hurting religious sentiments of people by making derogatory comments against their belief. Vilasrao Deshmukh is not perturbed by farmer’s suicide in Vidarbha. CPM advocates privatisation in West Bengal but will block the economic reforms at the centre and an important nuclear deal with US. Akali Dal will release the photo of destroyed Akal Takht just before elections to arouse feelings of Sikhs. YSR is working extremely hard to provide reservation benefits to Muslims in Andhra Pradesh. Congress is finding ways to implement the Sachar Committee report to gain political space among Muslims.
Christian priests are luring poor people for conversion to increase their numbers. A party will advocate Hindutva but will not do anything against those who don’t allow people from lower caste to enter the temple and fetch water from wells. Mayawati wins the elections by playing the card of ‘Sarvjan’ but after coming into power is just talking about reservations everywhere. She is also playing the casteism card in Rajasthan to lure the Gujjar community. Every year India is being divided. The people of India are being divided and being labeled as Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Sindhi, Kashmiri but not ‘Indian’. An ‘Indian’ is finding it very difficult to live in this hostile atmosphere.

We have failed miserably to bring about a spirit of unity among the citizens of our country. Sir John Strachey had said that there was no such thing as India. It was just a ragbag of different languages, religions, regions and tribes. How right he was.
If you don’t agree with him then you need to prove him wrong. Let me tell you that you cannot hope our politicians and older generation to do this for you. Our political values have plunged so low that it does not take courage to do something wrong. However, it takes a lot of courage make it right. So we must realise that the onus to save ‘Indian’ lies with us – the youth. As author Shiv Khera says, “When evil forces unite, it is time for the good to join hands and become a force.” I would like to add that in order to make that “force” more effective, we need more youth to get involved in politics and matter concerning our nation. We must sense that the ‘Indian’ is the only factor, which will determine the future of India.

Rishabh Srivastava

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