At the outset, I’d like to state this; India, as a country, is based on a faulty idea. The existence of India as a united nation should’ve been unimaginable. The people of the country were not united by a common tongue, religion or ideals. From ancient times, India had been divided into small territories ruled by resident dynasties and feudal lords. Although most of the northern part was under Mughal rule before the arrival of the British, rest of the country was reined by regional dynasties, much like the regional parties that rule these states even today. The only reason why we exist was because the British ruled the land completely and before leaving decided to brand us under a common flag.
Most countries are united by a common language. This is how Europe was divided and fought wars. People with the same mother tongue were assumed to be part of the same country. But when we look at India this is simply not the case. While we pride ourselves in the fact that we have 18 official languages, it is this difference which leads to discord. One cannot impose Hindi on Tamils nor can a Marathi expect to live in Kolkata without basic knowledge of Bengali. Hindi is the mode of communication in cosmopolitan areas and with the advent of English, language barriers are being diminished however this was not the case during independence. How could one expect a Gujarati and Bihari to unite under the same flag? Even though the language barriers were many, our founding fathers decided to unite all of us under the same banner.
Countries are also based on the basic ideal of religion. We needn’t go far for an evidence of this fact. Our very own nemesis, Pakistan is the best example. Most countries established on religious lines are Islamic. Nepal remains the sole Hindu nation of the world. Due to our backwardness and illiteracy, establishing a secular society should’ve been a humongous challenge and it remains so even today. While religious riots abound in our own backyard, our politicians happily wear the mask of secularism. Caste and creed is another line which divides the Indians into barbaric brutes even today. Even people with the same language and religion looked down upon their comrades as untouchables.
Probably the best evidence of the defective nature of our survival was the First War of Independence in 1857. Fought by the rebel British Army consisting of Indian soldiers, this war failed to realize its true potential due to the limited numbers and the uncoordinated nature of the uprising. How could a small European nation thousands of miles away defeat a nation as vast as ours (in terms of population)? Lack of unity comes to mind. Even after this, while most of India united under Mahatma Gandhi, rebels like Bhagat Singh and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose were still around, trying to pull the country in different directions, ideologically.
One might argue that how the United States with its diversity manages to do better than us on most fronts? A country like US was based on unified ideals and opened its doors to immigrants only after achieving relative stability. The issue of race led to a Civil War there too which denotes how the human race is incapable of accepting other individuals as equals.
On almost all counts, the people of India are diverse. We do not understand the culture of other states. We fail to grasp their language. When India gained independence, political analysts worldwide lamented the possibility of having another country which would soon descend into anarchy and military dictatorship. Democracy wasn’t the way of life for Indians during independence and it still isn’t the right choice of government. What we required was an authoritarian government at the outset. Not a dictatorship but a totalitarian regime. Indians should not have been allowed the kinds of freedom they were with the kind of education and background that they had. Indira Gandhi’s emergency was actually commendable for its governance record, albeit it should be condemned for its unethical implementation.
So why are we still the largest democracy and hold free and fair elections, the biggest exercise on earth, every five years successfully? There is no answer to this. We have proved wrong all those forecasters who wrote us off. The neighbouring Pakistan which was established on common lines had up until recently never had a government completing its full term in office and descended in military dictatorship quite often. What unites a Dravidian with a Punjabi is unknown. Why have we not descended into anarchy is not quite answerable. But the fact is, by some margin, we are one of the most diverse countries on this planet. We may eat, pray, talk, live and vote differently but we still sing the same anthem, worship the same flag and get buried in the same soil. We may have nothing in common but we still fight for the same nation on the borders when external forces threaten our existence. So although we weren’t supposed to be united as long as we have been, we continue to prove the rest of the world wrong and in a subtle way we corroborate the statement, “Unity in Diversity”.