Whether it be Jyoti Basu or Mulayam Singh Yadav, both ensured that their offspring became fluent in English even while both snuffed out opportunities for the poor to study a language that is a means towards economic opportunities across the globe. Unlike their language, there is much that is toxic in the legacy left behind by the British, such as centuries-old laws and administrative practices which constrict rather than empower the people. However, while these have been preserved and indeed added on to since 1947, there has been unceasing effort to do away with modern practices and outlook on the grounds that there is a Two Nation theory similar to that popularised by M.A. Jinnah in the 1930s. This is that there is “India” and there is “Bharat”, and that the twain can never co-exist. This is as fantastical as the notion that Indian culture is “Brahminic” rather than universal, and hence that much of the country’s ancient traditions in music, dance and even philosophy have a caste bias.
The subliminal message of such falsehood is that almost all castes barring the Brahmin ought to stay far away from such cultural offerings. For long, such insidious efforts at separating Indian from Indian worked, creating the havoc of Partition and later, caste and communal violence. Fortunately, this effort to distance the overwhelming majority of Indians from their own culture and their own commonality is faltering. Today, exquisite performances in Bharatanatyam, for example, are performed by artistes who are Christian or Muslim or from the many societal divisions within the Hindu community.
India’s culture—and indeed a language as perfect in its grammar and civilised expression as Sanskrit—is shared and owned by all the Indic peoples, irrespective of region, faith and other segmentation, as the many Muslims who are fluent in Sanskrit can testify.
India, i.e. Bharat is a single nation, whose people will no longer submit to being denied the freedoms and opportunities that exist in other parts of the globe.
If “India” refers to urban and “Bharat” to rural, it needs to be remembered that three-fourths of the present population working in the farm sector will need to relocate to other work, most in the cities. Or that both cities and villages depend on each other for services and markets. If it is a question of values, then “Bharat” and “India” cannot be very different, for both seek personal freedom and an end to the bullying control of government over too many aspects of their life. While the bureaucracy may seek to fight this trend, each effort on their part to tighten the screws will be resisted or ignored, as is increasingly taking place now. “Minimum government” is an inevitability in the changing chemistry of the population of India. However, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts, too much of his party seems to be as enamoured of the colonial state as the Nehrus have been, and show this by their frequent recourse to state agencies and authority in situations where the state ought never to intervene.
The way in which some elements within the ruling party are seeking to intimidate Vice-Chancellors into administrative action against campus rivals has harmed not just the ABVP but the BJP. The recent use of the Delhi police in JNU has made a hero out of Kanhaiya Kumar, just as similar action by the Gujarat police did in the case of Hardik Patel. The police are a surgical instrument, to be used only when all other options have proven to be ineffective. Unfortunately, in an increasing number of situations, an indulgent Ministry of Home Affairs is allowing the use of the police and other coercive agencies from the very start of a divergence between the approach of those in power and those who are the target of their fury.
Ironically, in situations where the police need to be effectively used, they are rendered ineffective through ordering them not to resort to firing, teargas and even lathis, when all three are called for, as when externally-led elements in Haryana infiltrated a caste-based agitation and burnt railway stations, shops and houses, and even sabotaged water supply to the national capital, without the police giving the masterminds of such anti-national actions any trouble at all.
India, i.e. Bharat is a single nation, whose people will no longer submit to being denied the freedoms and opportunities that exist in other parts of the globe. Rather than evolve another variant of the Two Nation Theory and again seek to distance citizen from citizen, let those in power remember that the use of state agencies—except where essential, such as in enforcing accountability on those who have looted hundreds of crores of rupees—will boomerang.
And let those outside the portals of power not forget that the chaos in the street and violence in the bylanes fomented by some of them will affect their own lives and those of their children far more than it will those comfortably ensconced, at least till 2019, in the fortresses of official privilege.