After a century of peace since 1857, we entered an era of independence — a totally new era of representational democracy, secularism of our brand, social equality, economic equity, uplift of the downtrodden and diverse-yet-united nationhood in a modern world. Nationhood and society in the post-independence era imposed new dimensions, disciplines, obligations, aspirations and security concerns; a new approach, new attitudes, new thought process; a breaking free from old shackles and subservience to outsider’s rule.
All these were new, laudable, in keeping with the new era vision, but remained tied to the strings of our cultural and civilizational baggage of the past; a past of a thousand year servitude and abilities clogged into a defensive, rigid, apprehensive, even fearful response to change, to grab new vistas that opened with new nationhood. That rigidity, resistance to change, hangover of the past still continue, despite what we set out in our Constitution, method of government, social dealing and security measures.
These sixty years and more have seen little peace; have set afire many an issue – political, economic, social, linguistic, religious, identity related, cultural, racial and many more. Internal disturbances resulting from these fires are assuming dangerous proportions greater than external threats. Today we have diplomacy and international opinion-cum-pressure groups to cope with external threat, in addition to our armed strength. But coping with internal disturbance is becoming far more difficult, because we are rapidly losing our cultural, civilizational trait of tolerance, adjustment and dialogue with and among our own diversity.
Today we have diplomacy and international opinion-cum-pressure groups to cope with external threat, in addition to our armed strength.
We inherited, and have lived with, enormous, endemic diversity, a feature not witnessed in any other nation to the same extent. The only Indian way to cope with this was, and still is, through tolerance and dialogue raised a few notches. Rapid loss of these, even in various democratically elected bodies, is stoking so many fires throughout the country – fires of identity, interests, aspirations of diverse segments, economic inequalities, historical suppression of social groups etc.
The second basic cause is our typical Indian (Hindu in the main) attitude of the heartlander towards the peripheral. The heartlander of the Gangetic belt and a core Deccan region has ruled the hearts, minds, psychology, consciousness, philosophy and the very Indianness of our country for millennia. The peripheral falls into four categories: (1) territorial (along the borders – J&K, Northeast; at a point in time even Punjab and Tamilnadu slipped towards the brink, but retrieved); (2) social (Dalits, scheduled castes, untouchables); (3) tribals (Northeastern, central and south Indian; mostly forest dwellers and hillmen); (4) religious (minorities).
The heartlander for centuries has neglected the peripheral, denied him the feeling of ‘belonging’ to the main group, alienated and, worse, exploited him, treated him with scant regard and even less concern. This has continued in independent India, despite the democratic practice of vote-begging and high-toned pretension to social justice, economic well-being and human rights. It is this heartlander’s attitude to the peripheral (of all types) and the peripheral’s improving awareness of the loud talk of Constitutional promises of a better future for him that are yet being denied to him, which are causing internal fires-insurgencies in the Northeast, J&K and naxal menace in 250 districts in eight states across north-south median.