‘As history can testify, the greatest factors that have impeded the stability and growth of the Indian subcontinent, especially after the British left seven decades ago, have been its communal disharmony and distrust, cultural diversity and ethnic heterogeneity. On the top of that, in India at least, the thriving caste system has been the icing on the cake. No sooner did the British leave the subcontinent than it divided itself into two countries. Another division followed 24 years later, in 1971. The border area between India and Pakistani is the world’s heaviest militarised zone!
The subcontinent has indeed been fighting itself. The founding leaders claimed ‘unity in diversity’ as India’s core strength. Only history will prove how far they were correct! India had to recreate a number of new states in the past decade or so. Creation of some more new states appears inevitable if one goes by the ongoing simmering power tussles and political undercurrents.
As proven by its neighbours, Pakistan and Bangladesh, even if – albeit in an unlikely scenario – ALL Indians converted and followed any one particular religion, her existential issues – a mindless high population growth, extreme disparity in the socio-economic structure, shamelessly naked and rampant corruption, disharmony and infighting amongst people from different castes and religious sects, and radicalising political polarisation – will continue unabated.The reason is that each religion has its own several sub-religious sects and their followers will keep fight one another, as has been observed in India’s neighbours, and the Middle East, where most people belong to one particular religion.
In itself, therefore, religion may not be the prime reason for the woes of the subcontinent. But it certainly does provide the fodder and the base over which divisions are created, nurtured and exploited by power-mongers. Alarmingly, even the so-called educated people are seen to get polarised and blinded to facts. So, even education may not possibly help to erase social divisions.
Indians have a genetic disposition to invent reasons to differentiate themselves from others – castes and sub-castes, religions and sub-religious sects, regions, languages, dialects and accents, food and, of course, the wealth. Even geological boundaries, such as rivers and hills, are used to create social divisions.
The power-hungry polarising forces are proven experts in using religions and castes to create discord, disharmony and distrust between the people. The politicians continue to use the good old policy of ‘divide and rule’ to grab and stay in power. They mirror the people whom they claim to represent. The past governments have also proactively fed and nurtured all social divisions.
Such countries, where social divisions are proactively nurtured and exploited by their political and religious leaders, can never become invincible or remain united for long unless and until the core reasons for social divisions and disharmony are nipped in the bud once and for all, and the lines of divisions are completely erased. But that is a wishful thinking, at least in the context of India, where even God may not succeed! The onus is on people and people alone, to cohere and harmonise. But will they?
It is not unreasonable to expect that India, as a nation, will keep fighting itself till it achieves a logical equilibrium. Only one of the two possible results is inevitable, which any person of common sense can easily imagine. Despite that, as a benefit of doubt, God only knows which one result is actually destined for this country, where nearly one-fifth of the world population lives!’ … Bill K Koul (At 40,000 feet, somewhere over the Indian Ocean)