Speech Of Dr. Pranab Mukherjee at The Concluding Function Of Sangh Shiksha Varg (Tritiya Varsh)
- Today, I am here to share with you my understanding of the concepts of Nation, Nationalism andÂ Patriotism in the context ofIndia, that isÂ Bharat. These three concepts are so closelyÂ intertwinedÂ thatÂ itÂ is difficult to discuss any one of them in isolation.
- Let us make a beginning by understanding the dictionary meaningÂ of these three words.Â NationÂ is defined asÂ âa large group of peopleÂ sharing the same culture, language or history andÂ inhabiting a particular state or areaâ.Â NationalismÂ is defined as âidentification with oneâs ownÂ nation and support of its interests especially to theÂ exclusion of interests of other nationsâ.Â Patriotismis defined as âdevotion to and vigorous support for oneâs countryâ.
- Let us look at our roots,
IndiaÂ was an open society, globally connected along theÂ Silk and SpiceÂ Routes.Â These busy highways of commerce and conquest witnessed aÂ free exchange of culture, faith and invention asÂ merchants, scholarsÂ and sages, traversed mountain and desert, and sailed the oceans.Â BuddhismÂ reachedÂ Central Asia, ChinaÂ andÂ Southeast AsiaÂ together withÂ Hindu influencesâ.Â Ancient travelers likeMegasthenesÂ in the 4thÂ century B.C.Â Fa HienÂ in the 5thÂ century A.D. andÂ Hiuen TsangÂ in the7thÂ century AD; when they came to India, wrote about the efficient administrative systems with planned settlements and goodÂ infrastructure.Â Takshashila, Nalanda, Vikramashila Valabhi, SomapuraÂ andÂ OdantapuriÂ comprised the ancient universityÂ system that dominated the world for 1,800 years beginning the sixth centuryÂ BCE. They were magnets for the finest minds and scholars in the world.Â In the liberal environment of theseÂ institutions creativity found full form and art, literature and scholarship flourished.Â Chanakyaâs Arthashastra,Â an authoritative text on state-craft was also writtenÂ during this period.
- India was a state long before the concept of the EuropeanÂ Nation State gained ground after the Treaty of Westphalia inÂ 1648. This model of a defined territory a single language,Â sharedÂ religionÂ and a common enemy – is the model which ledÂ to the formation of various nation states in Europe. On the other hand Indian Nationalism emanated fromÂ âUniversalismâÂ (the philosophy ofVasudhaiva KutumbakamÂ and Sarve BhavantuÂ )Â Sukhinah, Sarve Santu Niramayah.Â We see the whole worldÂ as one family andÂ prayfor the happiness andÂ good healthÂ ofÂ all.Â Our national identity has emerged through a longÂ drawnÂ process of confluence, assimilation, and co-existence. TheÂ multiplicity in culture, faith and language is what makes India special.Â We derive our strength from tolerance. We accept andÂ respect ourÂ pluralism. We celebrate our diversity. These haveÂ been a part of our collective consciousness for centuries. AnyÂ attempt at defining our nationhood in terms of dogmas and identities of religion, region, hatredÂ and intolerance will onlyÂ lead to dilution of our national identity. Any differences thatÂ may appear are only on the surface but we remain aÂ distinctÂ cultural unit with a common history, a common literature and aÂ common civilization. In the words of the eminent historianÂ VincentÂ Smith, âIndia beyond all doubt possesses a deepÂ underlyingÂ fundamental unity, far more profound than that produced either byÂ geographical isolation or by politicalÂ superiority. That unity transcends the innumerable diversitiesÂ of blood colour, language, dress, manners, and sectâ3.
- If we take a quick look at history the emergence of the IndianÂ State can be traced back to the sixteenÂ MahajanapadasÂ mostlyspread across Northern India in the 6thÂ century BC. In the 4thcentury BC,Â Chandragupta MauryaÂ defeated theÂ GreeksÂ toÂ build a powerful empire comprising of North Western andÂ Northern India.Â Emperor AshokaÂ wasÂ the most illustrious rulerÂ of this dynasty. After the collapse of theÂ Mauryan Dynasty,Â theÂ empire broke into small kingdomsÂ around 185 BC.Â Gupta DynastyÂ again created a vast empire whichÂ collapsed around 550 AD. Many dynasties ruled till 12thÂ century when Muslim invaders captured Delhi andsuccessive dynasties ruled for the next 300 years. Babur defeated the last Lodhi King in 1526 at theÂ First Battle of PanipatÂ and firmly established Mughal rule which continued for 300 years. The East India Company after winning theÂ Battle of PlasseyÂ in 1757, and theThree Battles of ArcotÂ (1746-63) brought a vast territory in East and South of India under its control. A large part of western region was also annexed to the companyâs territory and to administer these territories, a modern form of government was established in 1774. To administer these territories the office of Governor General atÂ fort William, Calcutta and two sub-ordinateÂ governors at Madras and Bombay were created. For nearly 140 years, Calcutta was the centre of British Authority in India. However, the responsibility of administration was taken away from the East India Company in 1858 and the Secretary of State for India was appointed in the British Cabinet to superÂ intend the Indian Administration.
- Throughout this period of 2500 years of changing politicalÂ fortunes andÂ conquests, the 5000 year old civilizationalÂ continuity remained unbroken. In fact, each conqueror andÂ each foreign element had been absorbed to form a new synthesis and unity4.TagoreÂ in his poem âBharat TeerthaâÂ says and I quote ââ¦â¦â¦â¦Â No one knows at whose beckoningÂ call how many streams, of humanity came in indomitableÂ waves from all over the world, over the millennia and mingledÂ like rivers into this vast ocean and created an individual soulÂ that is called Bharatâ.
- The concept of Modern Indian State found frequentÂ articulation by various Indian organizations including theÂ Indian National Congress towards the end of nineteenth century. Starting withÂ Shri Surendranath BanerjeeÂ in 1895Â at Pune, all Congress Presidents gave a call for an Indian Nation comprising the territorial areasÂ ofÂ British India andÂ the territories of 565 princely states. WhenÂ Bal GangadharÂ TilakÂ gave voice to the phrase coined byÂ Barrister JosephÂ Baptista âSwaraj is my Birth right and I shall have itâ,Â hereferred to Swaraj for the Indian People – encompassing various castes, creeds, and religions spread across BritishÂ India and Princely States. This Nation and Nationalism wasÂ not bound by geography, language, religion, or race. As Gandhiji explained Indian nationalism was not exclusive,nor aggressive nor destructive. It was this Nationalism thatÂ Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru so vividlyexpressed in theÂ âDiscovery of Indiaâ, and I quote âI am convinced thatÂ Nationalism can only come out of theÂ ideologistÂ fusion of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and other groups in India. That does not mean that extinction of any real culture of any group, but it does mean a common national outlook, to which other matters are subordinatedâ.Â In the process of ourÂ movement against British Rule, the various anti-colonial,Â anti-British and mostly progressive movements across theÂ length and breadth of the country were unified into aÂ cohesive national struggle for freedom, keeping the feeling of patriotism above their individual, ideological and political leanings.
- We won independence in 1947. Thanks to the efforts ofÂ Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Princely States mergedÂ leading to the consolidation of India. The complete integration of Provincial and Princely States took place after theÂ formation of states on the recommendation of StatesÂ Reorganisation Commission.
- On 26 January, 1950, the Constitution of India came intoÂ effect. In a remarkable display of idealism and courage, weÂ the people of India gave to ourselves aÂ sovereignÂ democratic republic to secure for all its citizens justice,Â liberty and equality. We undertook to promote among allÂ citizens fraternity, the dignity of the individual and theÂ unity of the nation. These ideals became the lodestar ofthe modern Indian State. Democracy became our mostÂ precious guide towards peace and regeneration from theÂ swamp of poverty created by centuries of colonial rule. ForÂ us, Democracy is not a gift, but a sacred trust. The IndianÂ Constitution,Â consisting of 395 articles and 12 schedules, IÂ not merely a legal document but a Magna Carta of socio-economic transformation of the country. Itrepresents the hopes and aspirations of the billion plusÂ Indians. From our constitution flows our nationalism. TheÂ construct of Indian nationalism is âConstitutionalÂ Patriotismâ, which consists of an appreciation of ourÂ inherited and shared diversity; a readiness to enact oneâsÂ citizenship at different levels; the ability to self correct andÂ learn from others5.
I want to share with you some truths that I haveÂ internalized duringÂ my fifty year long public life, as aÂ Parliamentarian and Administrator.
- The soul of India resides in pluralism and tolerance. This plurality of our society has come through assimilation of ideas over centuries. Secularism and inclusion are a matterÂ of faith for us. It is our composite culture which makes usÂ into one nation. Indiaâs Nationhood is not one language,Â one religion, one enemy. It is the âPerennial UniversalismâÂ of 1.3 billion people who use more than 122 languages andÂ 1600 dialects in their everyday lives, practice 7 majorÂ religions, belong to 3 major ethnic groups – Aryan, Mongoloids, and Dravidians live under one system, oneÂ flag and one identity of being âBharatiyaâÂ and have âNoÂ Enemiesâ.Â This is what makes Bharat a diverse and unitedÂ nation.
- In a democracy, informed and reasoned publicÂ engagement on all issues of national importance isÂ essential. A dialogue is necessary not only to balance theÂ competing interests but also to reconcile them. DivergentÂ strands in public discourse have to be recognized. We may argue, we may agree, or we may not agree. But we cannotÂ deny the essential prevalence of multiplicity of opinion. Only through a dialogue can we develop the understanding to solve complex problems without an unhealthy strifeÂ within our polity.
- Peaceful co-existence, compassion, respect for life, andÂ harmony with nature from the foundation of our civilization. Every time a child or woman is brutalized, the soul of India is wounded. Manifestations of rage areÂ tearing our social fabric. Every day, we see increased violence around us. At the heart of this violence is darkness, fear, and mistrust. We must free our public discourse from all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal. Only a non-violent society can ensure theÂ participation of all sections of people in the democraticÂ process, especially the marginalized and the dispossessed. We must move from anger, violence, and conflict to peace, harmony, and happiness.
- Happiness is fundamental to the human experience of life.Â To lead healthy, happy and productive lives is the basicÂ right of our citizens. While we have done well on ourÂ economic growth indicators, we have fared poorly on theÂ World Happiness Index. We rank133Â out of theÂ 156 countriesÂ mapped in the World Happiness Report 2018.Â KautilyaâsÂ shloka fromÂ Arthashastra,Â inscribed near liftNo.6 in Parliament House says:
Praja sukhe sukham rajah Prajanam cha hithe hitham
Nathmapriyam hitham rajah prajanam thu priyam hitham
In the happiness of theÂ peopleÂ lies the happiness of the king, their welfare is his welfare. He shall not consider as good only that which pleases him but treat as beneficial to him whatever causes happiness to all people.Â KautilyaÂ points out in thisÂ shlokaÂ very succinctly that the State us for the people. People are at the centre of all activities of the state and nothing should be done to divide the people and create animosity among them. The aim of the state should be to galvanize them to fight a concerted war against poverty, disease and deprivation and to convert economic growth into real development with the objective of spreading Peace, Harmony and Happiness inform the formulation of our public policy and guide all the actions of our state and citizens in their everyday life. This and only this will be able to create a happy nation, where Nationalism flows automatically.