Saturday, September 22, 2007


The debate on Ram Setu rages on, with politicians sparing no effort to extract maximum petty political mileage out of the issue which has now become almost completely about Hindu faith, divided along its many fault lines.

In the midst of all this, I came across a very illuminating article by Renuka Narayanan in The Hindustan Times of September 22, 2007, which lucidly brings out how the concept of ‘One India’ was not a creation of the British.

The concept of nation-states itself is a very recent European creation. Most scholars agree that it is only in the nineteenth century that states with boundaries defined mainly by language and culture began appearing in Europe.

Before that, political units were based on multi-ethnic empires and smaller kingdoms, whose boundaries were flexible and depended solely on the relative strengths and ambitions of warring kings and emperors. Thus, Europe had the classic non-national states which were the multi-ethnic empires, (the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire), where the population belonged to many ethnic groups and spoke many languages.

India too, before the advent of the British, was a loose collection of numerous empires and kingdoms. Right from ancient times, various large and small dynasties fought over and ruled different parts of the country.

Yet, as Renuka Narayanan brings out, the sub continent has always thought of itself as ‘one’. The Land of King Bharat, the Island of the Rose-apple (Bharat Varshe Jambudvipe), runs from Rameswaram to the Himalayas since time immemorial.

Our politicians would do well to read through this article and other literature on the subject so that they can find more constructive and positive ways to draw voters to bring them to power, both in the states and the Centre. It is time they shed narrow and hate based slogans reflective of intellectual bankruptcy, and worked with the clear objective of making this country great again.

It may be worth remembering that nobody invades a country unless it offers him much more than he has where he is. It is no accident that people of so many ‘nationalities’ and regions have, for over a thousand years, repeatedly invaded this land looking for their pot of gold, as it were.

Let us not continue to mindlessly demean ourselves by our never-ending ‘family fights’ which have repeatedly cost us dear, all through our history.


Readers may also like to read:

1. Aryan Ram Dravidian Ravan No Indian
2. Ram setu controversy: respecting faith