The India of our dreams

To Rabindranath Tagore, the very concept of Nation was ill-founded and based in greed of material prosperity. A Nation, to him, was that aspect which a whole population assumes when organized for mechanical purpose. By mechanical purpose must be understood material purpose, which Tagore referred to as ulterior. To him, society was far more superior, since it was a natural regulation of human relationships, so that men can develop ideals in cooperation with one another. He wished for a world of no Nations, but only societies. Tagore defined society as a spontaneous self-expression of man as a social being; a natural regulation of human relationships, so that men can develop ideals in cooperation with one another.

However, one need not consider material purposes ulterior. An example in point is the material purpose of a hungry man who wants to earn his daily bread. There is nothing ulterior about that. Of course, it becomes ulterior when greed sets in. It is not necessary that a natural regulation of human relationships must help develop only ideals in cooperation with one another. It is perfectly ethical for human relationships to help develop tangible material products and services, again in cooperation with one another, as long as greed is out of the equation. Material pursuits are valid pursuits of life as long as they don't tread on the life or liberty of others.

Once this is granted, it must be granted that groups of people uniting for material purposes is not ulterior either, again as long as such a unity does not tread on the life or liberty of others. There is nothing wrong for a group of people to seek material well-being. What is wrong, is for it to seek its own well-being at the cost of pushing other groups to levels of poverty and helplessness below its own levels, by taking the life or liberty of others. Thus, material pursuits become ulterior only when they cross the boundary of ethics. Within that boundary, there is ample space for a valid and ethical Nation to be defined.

British India and Britain itself were, of course, invalid and unethical Nations. The British took the life and liberty of people in this part of the world in order to feed the greed of material prosperity of the British.

But that need not bias us against the very concept of Nation, like it did seem to bias Rabindranath Tagore. It is perfectly fine for a set of people (or peoples as in the case of India) to organize themselves for the mechanical purpose of material prosperity, and call themselves a Nation. There's nothing ulterior about it as long as greed does not set in. Thus, a Nation need not be necessarily based on unethical or greedy grounds.

However - and this is very imporant - on those who define the Nation rests the burden of ensuring that there is no compromise of life or liberty not just outside, but even inside it. If this ensuring is not done with due diligence, the Nation becomes invalid and unethical. It is only if this ensuring is not done with due diligence, that a Nation becomes tyrannical and unjust - the Nation which Tagore so hated.

The first symptom of such tyranny and injustice is the disregard and disrespect for diversity; the second is the foolish belief that unity can be achieved by forced juxtaposition of the language, culture, religious beliefs, and whims and fancies of one people on every other; and the third is the legalization of an unfair advantage given to selected people or peoples in education and employment (even if it is unintentional). These symptoms are already seen in India.

The first step towards curing India of this disease is to convert India into a Federation of Linguistic States equal in all respects, and in whom the very same principle of respect for diversity and upholding of life and liberty is in turn enshrined. This is the India of our dreams. Such an Indian Nation is free from the ills of the greedy Nation which Rabindranath Tagore so hated. It is not difficult to build such an Indian Nation. We just need to make an attempt to build it.

7 comments:

Thennavan said...

@KARNATIQUE / Mr. Kiran Rao Batni

Most of your articles discuss about the views/vision for India of non-south Indian leaders/organizations like Tagore, Ambedkar, RSS, political parties, etc. Of course, you, a southner, write about your views. Why don't you please write about the views/vision for India of south Indian leaders/organizations? Haven't the southnern leaders got a vision for India?

ಕಿರಣ್ ರಾವ್ ಬಾಟ್ನಿ / Kiran Rao Batni said...

@ Thennavan

You ask a good question.

When one seeks Truth, one needs to attach more importance to what is said rather than who has said it. The entire world as a textbook has far more pages in it than what the textbook of any geographically defined space can ever produce. It is detrimental to refuse to learn from the world-wide book.

We have not taken upon ourselves the task of discovering or rediscovering Kannadiga or South Indian icons. We have taken upon ourselves the task of discovering or rediscovering the Truth. If in the process we talk about non South-Indian icons, the intention is not to rediscover them, but only their thought.

I believe there is no dearth of South Indian leaders or organizations who/which have had visions of India - especially Tamil ones. Kannadiga leaders and thinkers there most certainly exist in this space, but organizations: no!

However, in Karnataka, we have the curious case that our own thinkers have been relegated to the background in these matters. In my experience, the influence of non-Kannadiga thinkers has been stronger than the influence of many Kannadiga thinkers themselves on Kannadigas. Most Kannadigas haven't even heard about Alura Venkata Rao who was the man behind the formation of Karnataka - but they all know Gandhi, Ambedkar and Tagore. I myself came to know about Alura Venkata Rao about 5 years ago - and about the other three gentlemen atleast 20 years ago!

To summarize, it is not that we have a bias for non-South-Indian thinkers or organizations. It is just that we use whatever we have been taught, and with a calm head try to make sense of it all. Some of it makes sense, and some of it doesn't.

We would never give the message to Kannadigas or anybody else that they must stick to thought domiciled in their own silos. That is a recipe for disaster.

Damodharan said...

Hindi is thrust forcibly into unwilling non-Hindi throats with the full force and power of every Indian Government apparatus. Hindi is forced into non-Hindi regions in many forms: Hindi signs on everything owned or operated by Indian Government, even forced Hindi on the labels of lifesaving drugs (no Tamil on the labels though), non-stop Hindi on broadcast television and government operated cable and satellite television, and through government jobs.

Damodharan said...

Ruling race always want to do government business in its mother tongue. When the French ruled Podicherry, all official work there was done in French. When the Portuguese ruled Goa, all official work was done in Portuguese. Now central government work in Puducherry and Goa are done in Hindi because Hindians have become the rulers.

"If Hindi is made the Union official language,... it gives to a section of the people of India the position of a ruling race". - Former Madras State Chief Minister C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) [Rajaji was a supporter of Hindi but changed his mind after seeing its discriminatory effect on non-Hindi peoples.]

Damodharan said...

Yes I guess Hindians have become the Rulers.
While non-Hindians are studying Hindi, which has no use except for the fact that Hindi is forced on them as India's official language, Hindians can utilize that time to study more useful subjects like computer programming or advanced English which would be useful in a broader array of careers anywhere in the world. I think non-Hindians are getting the short end of the stick. :-(

Thennavan said...

@KARNATIQUE / Mr. Kiran Rao Batni

It is true that the pursuit of truth should not be bound by our own boundaries. We must be open to scholars / intellectuals from everywhere. At the same time, the contributions of our own people, even if much less than those of the nationally/internationally acclaimed personalities, need be highlighted to provide a sense of pride and confidence to ourseleves, especially the future generations and also to show others that we also contribute something to the world as well as ourselves.

ಕಿರಣ್ ರಾವ್ ಬಾಟ್ನಿ / Kiran Rao Batni said...

@ Thennavan

I agree with you - as long as reason does not take a backseat in the evaluation of the thought of 'our own people'. The urge to iconify 'our own people' must not overtake reason. I'd rather have reason unify Kannadigas than the images of men fallen to reason.

I have not found a single person - either Kannadiga or non-Kannadiga who stands the test of reason in its entirety. Not Alura Venkata Rao, not Periyar, not Gandhi, not Tagore, not Ambedkar, not Visveswaraya, not Golwalkar, nobody at all. But all of them have some or the other important lesson to teach, sometimes simply the same lesson in a different way.

Who defines what 'reason' is? Everybody to himself or herself. So, when I say the above have not stood the test of reason, it is reason as defined by me. Of course, everybody is welcome to evaluate my evaluations and my definitions and either accept or reject them. That is what an intellectual debate is all about, and it is such a debate through which people can develop ideals in cooperation with one another.

Coming back to your original question on whether 'our own people' did not have ideas about India, I can safely say that I do not know of any Kannadiga thinker till now who matches the clarity of thought that Tagore brings to the table when it comes to Nationalism. This does not mean there exist none (although it's possible that none exist). This does not mean that I accept Tagore's thought completely; in fact I have pointed out where I differ with Tagore in the above article, as you have acknowledged, too.

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