What's your Idea of India? Do you have one?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Every time a linguistic chauvinist attacks a helpless migrant from other state, every time the religious fundamentalists, terrorists, Naxalites and Maoists attack the innocent lives, we tend to question the very foundation of our nation - "The idea of India." When Thackerays test the idea of India, equality and freedom enshrined in our constitution are challenged. When religious fundamentalists desecrate the places of worship, the freedom of religion in our country is questioned. When Naxals and Maoists kill the innocent lives in the remote villages, our right to life and liberty is attacked. When we cannot convict the culprits even after decades of legal fight, the justice guaranteed in our constitution is challenged.

Looking at these challenges we are facing in our country today, don't you think we are going back to square one where we fought hard for these fundamental rights? Can these challenges be overcome? Yes!, says our home minister:
"Every challenge tests the will and determination of the people. The US emerged stronger from a civil war. Winston Churchill led the British people in the defence of their island against a powerful enemy and vowed “we shall never surrender.” Japan rose from the ashes to become a world economic power. Belying all predictions, the Wall was brought down and Germany was united. The peaceful rise of China is liberating millions of people from poverty. India is no stranger to the “can do” spirit; it was best exemplified by the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi who said “Be the change that you want to see.” Our challenges – formidable as they are – can be overcome."
As he rightly points out in his speech at 6th Nani A. Palkhivala Memorial Lecture, "The idea of India" is important to overcome the challenges we are facing today. It is interesting to note from his speech that, "we draw that idea from our own circumstances – birth, family, upbringing, education and the like. That idea is also shaped by our experiences like success and failure, joy and sorrow. It is also influenced by others such as family members, friends, adversaries, colleagues and superiors. Ultimately, each one of us forms an idea of India. In the case of most people, the idea of India is vague, undefined and with barely visible contours; yet with a little prodding, it is possible to draw out every person to define his or her idea of India."

In our country, we have thousands of individuals fighting for their own "idea of India". Some fight for "improvement in the living standards and access to all basic needs such that a person has enough food, water, shelter, clothing, health, education etc.", some fight for "A stable political, social and economic environment, with associated political social and economic freedoms, such as equitable ownership of land and property." And of course, there are many others fighting for many other noble causes.

As Mr. Chidambaram puts it, "all these ideas put together, makes the Idea of India". If Mahatma Gandhi's words - “Be the change that you want to see” - are taken under this context, each one of our ideas can change the lives around. However small or big is our idea of India, it is important that we have one.

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This work by Manjunath Singe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License. The views and opinions expressed in this work are strictly those of the author and do not represent his employer's views in anyway.