India is a country which constitutes the largest number of citizens who enjoy a positive amount of freedom than any other country in the world. Sadly, we are currently at a juncture when the national capital is lamenting over the violent arguments trying to decide who those ‘real’ Indian citizens should be. When the primary question of how to define an Indian citizen arises and debates around it attract global attention, Indians fight against the new Citizenship Amendment Act.
India has become a major face among the world powers with its presence being felt everywhere. It is a reality that every sixth person you bump into anywhere in the world would be an Indian. However, even with such progress, thousands who had been living in this country for years are now living under the threat of being deported or being sent to detention centres with the implementation of the Citizenship Act.
India stands second only to China in the number of Non-Resident Indians. Indians who have been residing in the United States have now become an elite and powerful group. This could be read along the lines of Donald Trump’s recent visit to India, more likely as a tactical move to appease the Indian residents in the States, before the upcoming elections.
Whether the world likes it or not, to move forth, they need Indians. With the Indian Republic celebrating its seventieth year of formation, with the nation beholding a prominent position in the world map, our own government has brought us to the dilemma of deciding who is an Indian.
Earlier, the world viewed Indians through two lenses. One, how the foreigners narrated us. Second, through the Indians who made a way for themselves coming to the forefront through their effort and worldly experience. The foreigners depicted us before the world in many ways.
World-famous American writer Mark Twain described India in the late nineteenth century as, “the country of hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of traditions, whose yesterday’s bear date with the modering antiquities for the rest of nations-the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined.”
Whatever be your practicing religion, whether you are an atheist, whichever be your tongue, wherever you live-each and everyone born and brought up in India is Indians. This centuries old philosophy was inscribed into the folds of our Constitution. India is the root of this perspective that celebrates diversities. We, the Indians who reside on this land admire not the geography or the topography, but us, the people.
When people raised slogans shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” in 1936, Jawaharlal Nehru explained to them who Bharat Mata is. “Who is this Bharat Mata, whose victory you wish?”, he said, “the mountains and rivers, forests and fields are of course dear to everyone but what counted ultimately were the people of India, people like you and me, who were spread all over this vast land. Bharat Mata — Mother India was essentially these millions of people, and victory to her meant victory to these people”.
The American population that claim a history of just 239 years (it was in 1781, the American states were formed) were migrants from various countries around the globe. Yet, they take pride in their 200-year-old tradition by creating values and aura of painting a 2000-year-old history for themselves.
Unfortunately, those who try to rewrite the unique tradition of ours turn a blind eye towards an important historical fact. Even during the Vedic times and later, the people who lived in India came from outside. The people who came here from various parts settled and nourished this land with their sweat and hard work to make the India we see today. None had any rights to question or divide or deport their descendants in the name of religion, in the name of the race, say Aryan or Dravidian, or in the name of caste. The mixed racial trait inherent in each Indian was earlier noted down in historical records. However, in recent times, through genetic studies, this fact has been scientifically proved and documented.
A true Indian is one who acknowledges all belief systems, religions and ways of living and imbibes the unity of the brotherhood. A patriot is someone who marks the unity of citizenship in the minds of everyone around him.
For Mahathma Gandhi, all Indians were children of a single mother. He became the Father of the Nation because he believed in this vision.
Unluckily, in present India, all these are swept into oblivion. Unwanted doubts and hideous suspicions are sown into our minds to figure out who is an Indian. A democratic state that believed in unity and respected everyone has now turned out to become a space of communal divide and violence with people starting to define an Indian based on religion and tradition. This can ultimately lead to forming potholes of destruction within the nation-state. Who can help save this country from embracing such a disaster? To find a solution to this question and to overcome this hurdle, sensible Indians should unite.
Disclaimer: The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of N4M Media.