The Idea Of A Nation

Thus he spake, “ Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, & now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge….”  &  when both the hands of clock joined solemnly, a nation was born, a civilization awoke of its slumber.  This soliloquy of the 1st Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru embellished with ornate metaphors aptly represented the transformations that were to come.

Imagine a seed sprouting , germinating  into a delicate & timid plant, imagine its roots spreading like tentacles through the crevices of rocks , its foundation growing in strengths & slowly this seedling mutates into a giant tree laden with fruits & flowers.  This seedling & its story has this uncanny semblance in the idea of a nation.

In the year 1789, a revolution swept France, the loosely knit social hierarchy of clergy, aristocracy & the commoners centered together in their allegiance to the King crumbled into ruins. Through the ashes rose national consciousness of people across Europe. The formation of Italian nation in 1861 & the German empire in 1871 is no fortuitous coincidence, the newer dynamics of kinship strictly defined through language & culture was reinvigorated. With the industrial revolution sweeping Europe, rail- roads being laid across hinterlands the idea of a nation was conceived. Far- flung villages & parishes were directly connected to metropolises, reluctant dwellers of these places felt far greater sense of association with the nation- state, coupled with the fall of estates & landlords, nationalism spread like wildfire across the globe. Once the Great-War culminated, another form of national awakening rose to its pinnacle across Asia albeit for an entirely different set of reasons. The birth of the Turkish nation under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk from the vestiges of Ottoman Empire, after the humiliations of 1st World War spread the embers of nationalism across the Asian continent. The very idea that a nation-state could rise & regroup itself, having been hounded & shunned for years was to become the ultimate inspiration for European colonies in Asia & Africa.

On the 69th anniversary of India’s liberation, we as citizens stand witness to the fact that this nation of ours has undergone a sea of changes over the past seven decades. Never, at any point of time has the idea of India as a unitary state held such a primacy in the minds & hearts of people. To be able to witness momentous transitions in history is a rare opportunity; we’re indeed a rare breed of citizens able to see these exceptional transformations unfolding through our own eyes. The rise of a successful middle-class, growing upward mobility & the apparent fall of class based stratification is only a few amongst the numerous success stories of a new & rejuvenated India.

From the ramparts of Red-Fort, the Prime Minister waxed eloquently that India was steering ahead of competitions & is at the cusp of tremendous changes. His proposal of turning start-up ventures into a norm is an ingenious idea as it can potentially remedy unemployment. Electrification of villages & hamlets, announcing development schemes worth 6,000 crores for tribal zones marred with naxal menace is a welcome change in government’s policy towards the neglected states of Eastern India.

Religiously glued to our televisions, as we brace ourselves for the seemingly ceaseless barrage of artificial schemes & policies, it may dawn on any sane soul that these are anything but, a ritualistic jargon for earning brownie points. Consider this, how on earth can the start- up culture succeed without proper ministrations for our infamous bureaucracy where esteemed people sitting in the upper echelons zealously believe in sahib- culture, or where are the policies to bring tribals & other neglected segments of our society into the mainstream? How’d we succeed in persuading them that this 6,000 cr isn’t a bait into some rooster-coop? When would these disgraceful farmer- suicides end & when would our morally upright parliamentarians stop blaming suicides on some fictitious tales of philandering peasants ? Over the years successive powers at the helm have turned more towards placebo than enacting concrete measures which were required of them & this government surely is no different.

As a society which has championed the cause of the fallen & the downtrodden, the onus is upon us to realize our own inefficiencies & remedy them before things turn sour & insalubrious.

Once a wise man said ( quoting Abu ibn Abi Talib), “ A poor man is like a foreigner in his own country.”  Let us make a vow that this ignominy of being a stoic society shall never fall on our nation & we shall stand for even the weakest of people, come what may.

© Haris Ahmed

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