JAVEED AHMAD RAINA
India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great-grandmother of tradition. Mark Twain
India has ever been the land of peace and harmony. It has been a heaven for co-existence, brotherhood, and religious tolerance. The country managed to retain secular values in the face of immense ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity. The country is well-known for its vibrant democracy, independent judiciary, rich literature, secular ethos, and cultural diversity. Historians, poets and travelogue writers have frequently praised this ancient land of mystic majesty. The American-born poet TS Eliot called India as the land of “Shantih (Peace)”. He saw hope and re-generation in the Indian culture amidst the barbarism and disillusionment of the modern west. Similarly, the German poet Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe in his collection of lyric poems, West-Eastern Diwan, expresses disdain towards the spiritual bankruptcy of the West and believes that the East is the seat of spiritual power. Eastern culture was best represented by India.
So also the modern Constitution of free India promoted compassion and self-control, because it believed that everyone was one with each other and therefore, everyone should help each other. The very idea of India invoked in the Constitution is one of secularism, freedom, and sagacity. It is due to these ideals that the Indian Constitution does no insist on a single language or religion but embraces diversity of languages, cultures and customs.
But, over the course of time, the beautiful soul of India has been defaced. The land has been battered by a tsunami of religious hatred. The country is lamenting the loss of its soul. The very word, India, has come to represent repression of the marginalised sections – the Muslims, the Dalits, the Christians. Even ordinary Indians have serious reservations with the new majoritarian India. The transformation of a great democracy into seemingly anarchy and apathy should be a grave concern and worry for all of us. This un-wanted transition has not only disfigured the image of the country, it has also fractured the muti-cultural heritage of the nation. The harmony that once existed between different communities has been torn apart. The feelings of goodwill and pride towards the motherland are now replaced with bitterness and contempt.
The sheer egoism of politicians, the deceptive mass media, and the self-serving regimes have collectively betrayed the nation. They have manipulated and misguided the masses. They rewrite history, impose majoritarian ideology, and enforce vilifying narratives. The media in particular has acted as the right arm of tyranny. The land of saints and Sufis has slowly changed into a land of religious extremism. This land does not inspire us anymore; this land only inspires lament and dirges!
As Shashi Tharoor said, “India is not, as people keep calling it, an underdeveloped country. It is a highly developed civilisation in an advanced state of decay.”
—The writer is a teacher working with School Education Department, J&K Govt. [email protected]