Earlier this month, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), a nonprofit advocacy group that "challenges concentrated economic and political power,...
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India was 'one' nation for two hundred years when it remained under the British Raj.
Today the cry for the bifurcation of yet another state of India, Andhra Pradesh, the capital of which was once the richest Kingdom in the world, is threatening its very integrity. Many more bigger and smaller states are waiting to pounce on the opportunity to demand creation of their own little kingdoms.
Futile squabbling and vacillation have ended up in wasting of so much of national resources and administrative time, hampering development and creating unsolvable political dilemmas, dividing people. Parochial interests and selfishness is driving India back to the middle ages making it easy for its vile neighbours to exercise their ambitions of hegemony in the near future without efforts.
Isn't it time educated and responsible Indians who profess love for India and its integrity investigate why and how the British Raj kept India united and prospering?
Unfortunately the very mention of the Raj will make many Indians virtually explode in indignation and bloated national pride even in the 21st century, despite passage of a couple of generations since independence along the time line.
Even the fact that India is projected to become the number one economy in a couple of decades also can't alleviate the pain of the Raj for its so called techie generation. Such is the strength of the inferiority complex on the Indian psyche imposed by the strangle hold of the Raj. In many ways, Indians need to feel liberated, despite nearly a century of independence.
However In myriad of ways, it was indeed the Raj which made the fight for Independence and its successful culmination a reality.
On the one hand, Whigs and Liberals expounded sentiments most iconically expressed by TB Macaulay in 1833: 'that... by good government we may educate our subjects into a capacity for better government, that, having become instructed in European knowledge, they may, in some future age, demand European institutions. Whether such a day will ever come I know not. ... Whenever it comes, it will be the proudest day in English history.'
From Empire to Independence: The British Raj in India 1858-1947 Dr Chandrika Kaul
In reality India under the Raj was not a fully united nation. Two-fifths of the sub-continent continued to be independently governed by over 560 large and small principalities, with whom the Raj entered into treaties of mutual cooperation. Read Maya, Mulayam, Mamta, Jaya, Nmo et al in the 21st century.
The real success of the Raj was the administrative wisdom of dividing the rest of India in to governable blocks without any regard to language and cultural identities of Indians like for example, the Presidency of Madras which encompassed parts of four southern states.
In such administrative divisions, very similar to the modern Union Territories of India, no one complained or agitated about water, land, forest, language or education. Like the Union territories, these provinces have only prospered and progressed in time, though the benefits were mostly repatriated by the ruling British.
No doubt this experiment of governance of a large landmass like India with a diverse population and culture, though co-operation with local chieftains and non linguistic and impassionate administration of rest of the land did work smoothly, bringing all around prosperity, which remain quite relevant even in the context of modern India.
Among the benefits bequeathed by the British connection were the large scale capital investments in infrastructure, in railways, canals and irrigation works, shipping and mining; the commercialisation of agriculture with the development of a cash nexus; the establishment of an education system in English and of law and order creating suitable conditions for the growth of industry and enterprise; and the integration of India into the world economy.
In reality, the Raj even succeeded in uniting Indians, albeit in common hatred for the aggressor, at least for some decades before the independence.
That, that hard won unity did not transform in to a permanent unity of a billion Indians in a sense of fraternity is the tragedy of modern India. Today India is virtually as divided as when the British found it centuries ago thanks to the religious division left behind by the British and linguistic division enforced by their successors.
Imagine if Karamchand Gandhi were to try to incite and unite the disparate and hopelessly fractured India, which 1.3 billion Indians now call their country in 2013, even against a Martian invasion ? Even the Martian's would have given up at the rueful prospect of ruling modern India!
Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejeriwal are walking examples of the fallacy of expecting the impossible; to unite India again by raising the bogey of corruption. Corrupt and jailed Jagan Mohan Reddy has won more assembly seats! Corrupt accused leaders have been elected back to power elsewhere.
Narendra Modi and his coterie with the Gujrath model development is another example of someone with their heads in cloud nine, with the idea of a united India lapping up the rhetoric. They simply don't get how divided are the states of India in comparison to the United States of Barack Obama.
By contrast, Kiren Reddy, the CM of congress ruling Andhra Pradesh is a realist who see the danger to his own political future and party, if not for the integrity of the nation, in the destructive trend.
In reality, Sonia Gandhi, the President of the Congress party has proved to be much more of a pragmatic leader who has recognised the inevitable divisiveness of India.
Not surprisingly, though inadvertently, her pragmatism in agreeing to the local aspirations of the people of Andhra Pradesh while declaring and keeping Hyderabad as a Union territory smacks of the pragmatism of the Raj.
Why just Hyderabad, every project area like the contentious Kudamkulam Nuclear Thermal Power station or Integrated Steel Projects and every Metro in the country country, where massive central government investment has been pumped in must be declared a Union territory, to clean them from the evils of parochialism and foist, unhindered growth and prosperity.
I think he (Rahul) is one of the most talented, able and insightful of the younger generation of politicians worldwide, but how he ends up in your politics again, that's for you, for him and for his party to decide. But I think he has got first class mind and great commitment to India.
That opinion of Tony Blair, given during a visit to Delhi in 2008 as an ex Prime Minister of the U.K, turned out to be as much intuitive as it was prophetic.
Four years on, Rahul Gandhi has proved his worth as a political leader in his own right and not just as the son of Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Congress Party. He has been favoured as a leader who can take the party to win the next election and foisted by a majority of the Party leaders to the position of the Vice President.
His insightful mind and commitment to his country could be glimpsed from the pathos of his acceptance speech which the Indian media has ascribed as the "Obama moment" of the party. His speech, revealing his personal anguish and hinting a lack of avarice for power, which he could have grabbed anytime he wanted, is seen as a rare one in the Indian politics.
Despite this, why is India, especially its youth, judging from the chatter on the social web and the Indian media, so sceptical and suspicious of the young Gandhi?
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