WHOSE INDIA IS IT?
Sixty-one years ago when our freeedom fighters succeded in their hard fought endeavour and finally managed to break the chains of slavery;they felt that their dream of one,single united INDIA had finally come true.They felt that they have been able to provide to the common man an ideal platform to lead his life or let me put it in Rabindranath Tagore’s words “a place where the mind is without fear and the head is held high”.Such was the feeling when India got independence.But taking a look at the newsreports in the last few weeks we can clearly sense that that fearless atmosphere is slowly vanishing in some parts of the country.Fear of being an outsider in one’s own country is gripping people.
The regional sentimentalism, which in itself was one of the reasons why the British rule prospered so long in India, has yet again come to the surface. Particularly, in Maharashtra this feeling has acquired dangerous propositions. Some cynics are wrongfully labelling the outsiders(those who originally do not belong to the place)for all their prevalent problems and are demanding that such people be driven out of the place. Surprisingly, Mumbai, which has always welcomed people from all parts of the country, is in the centre of controversy. It is a known fact that Mumbai(previously called Bombay)allowed people from anywhere in the country to come and settle there; and it imbibed all the cultural and societal characteristics those people brought along with them and finally acquired its present multi-cultured, multi-faceted society which easily leaves any tourist in awe. It is a pity that a place so generous like Mumbai is now-a-days engulfed in such trivial matters like insiders v/s outsiders.
Unfortunately, Maharashtra is not the only place where this problem has raised its head. Similar problems have also been sensed in far-flung areas like Assam where the outburst is against the Hindi speaking section of the population and also in Jharkhand and its nearby states where the Naxals are aiming to thrive on this feeling.
In a way these instances have seriously threatened the foundation of our country. The basic concept behind the foundation of our nation was that inspite of any number of cultural, linguistical differences we all shared a common feeling of oneness, brotherhood and that common thread tied us into a single nation with the name “INDIA” on the world map. It was not long ago that we took pride in showcasing to the world our ”Unity in Diversity”. Our method to show our unity was to let people from different societal, cultural backgrounds to work at a single place for a common endeavour and lead a peaceful life altogether. If we succumb to this ”Outsiders be Ousted” demand we will be losing our identity by which we are recognized throughout the world and the relevance of INDIA would be lost. And also indirectly we would be justifying the jehadis’ cause in Kashmir and the demand of Sikh-separatist groups for a Khalsa land.
It is pretty surprising, how quickly this oneness feeling evaporated in the last few weeks of hue and cry. Sample this: When we call out Sachin Tendulkar, we identify him as a star, legendary batsman for India and not for Maharashtra or Mumbai in any case. When asked about India’s stock exchange ,we reply Bombay Stock Exchange. Do we identify BSE as a stock exchange for Maharashtra? There are umpteen such examples. Every region’s speciality or characteristic is treated like a matter to be proud of for the whole nation and not for that region alone.
It is a matter of grave concern that some of our politicians are fanning such feelings for their vested interests. I strongly believe that talking about regionalism we mean that the characteristic of that place should be preserved and fostered in such a way that it acts like a jewel in the crown of our nation and we should not allow it to influence us so much that it rusts the crown of our nation.
In the end ,I would like to say that in a free country a person should be free to visit, settle in any part of the country just like it happens in other advanced democracies of the world. We should take a lesson from history that countries or regions who tried to create a separate space for themselves on the basis of their regional, cultural identity today stand no-where in the world. Also, we should not let the hard fought freedom of ours to be threatened in any way. Long Live INDIA!