Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Hope of Akhand Bharat

BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, the architect of the BJP-PDP coalition government in Jammu & Kashmir, has been pilloried recently by both the Left and the Right for his comments on Akhand Bharat - a united nation of Indic peoples of South Asia. The Right has condemned him either for implying that Hindus and Muslims can actually live together on an almost equal footing, or for deliberately trying to sabotage Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent overture to Pakistan. The Left, in turn, has called his discussion an act of genocide on Muslims (without really explaining how).

All these sides are either wrong, short-sighted, or both. First, the easy culprits. The Left in India has become the torchbearer of the two-nation theory, and for them, anything that the BJP or RSS does in the name of Hinduism is necessarily directed against Muslims. Leftist journalist Rana Ayyub even insinuated that Madhav was talking about 'lebensraum,' which is absolutely stupid (and also falls into the trap of using a Nazi metaphor in an argument, which makes you lose automatically). But this should be expected from the two-nation theorists, because for them Hindus and Muslims are irrevocably two separate nations, and must always be at war. That is simply the natural order of their world, and to their credit, they are pretty uniform in that view. Of course, it is a different matter that when Manmohan Singh speaks of irrelevant borders, it is welcomed; but when Ram Madhav speaks of uniting Akhand Bharat, he is pilloried for it. But then, hypocrisy is the very basis of the Left.

The Right is also wrong here. The two-nation theorists on the right are obviously wrong, because they wrongly believe that: (a) Hinduism is a steadfast religion like the Abrahamic ones (it is not); and (b) Hindu culture ends with religion (it does not). Religion is ephemeral - the underlying culture of the Indian subcontinent, which is ultimately tied to its geographical wonders and thousands of years of development, is stronger and more resilient. Today, the many countries of South Asia pretend that they are separate nations, but any meeting between people of these countries quickly shows that they are essentially one nation, and have the same underlying philosophy that has withstood the test of time even as it has evolved to meet changing circumstances. The political right wing is also wrong because, just as religion, politics (aren't they the same?) is also ever-changing. It is meaningless to say that something is good today and bad tomorrow - the question is of the long-run. Indian civilization goes far beyond the petty politics of everyday life.

And really, how long of a long-run are we talking about? When will the countries of the Indian nation unite? That is very hard to say, but some things are clear - it won't happen soon, and it certainly won't happen under the philosophy of the Nation State. It need not happen either - the Nation State itself is a foreign construct, and has been in existence for a very short period of time, with borders changing regularly. There is no need for the Indian people to unite under one nation state - five or even fifty states makes no difference, for it is just a short-term change on a civilization of thousands of years.

Will then the Indian people have some form of political unity? If not the nation state, then some other form? Maybe. Possibly. But it will take time. How much time? As one Tweet pointed out, the dream of a Jewish homeland took 2,000 years to fructify. A common Hindu (the culture; not the religion) homeland may take longer. But the history of the civilization says that it will happen. 

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