The genesis of the Great Indian Mutiny of 1857 lay, not in love and affection for the fellow Indian brethren, but which animal’s fat the cartridges be made of, which were to be used for killing, maiming, threatening, exploiting and subjugating the very same fellow Indian brethren.
Though I had known the above fact for long, I had never seen it from above perspective, and when I finally did, it did not shock me, just mildly amused me. For I had already turned quite cynical of the idea that people of such a large geographical territory, with diverse cultural backgrounds and most important, resource scarcity that makes us see each other as rivals and much worse, parasites, could be truly united into one nation beyond the rhyming rhetoric of Unity in Diversity.
On a related note, I had published a comment (click) on Dilip D’Souza’s blog – ‘Death Ends Fun’ and I reproduce it here with slight modification:
I agree that given the diversity and size of populace, no other country is more united than India. But the question that I am asking is: even the current degree of unity among Indians is an outcome of some form of coercion or peer pressure?
Is there a margin for individual territories to be more stable politically, if India were to be divided? The last thing is not a rhetorical question, but more of a thought experiment.
I do not believe, someone living close to Arunachal Pradesh-China border would feel greater solidarity for a Gujarati or a Keraliite living thousands of kilometers away than for a ‘Chinese’ living just a few kilometers across the ‘border’. Likewise, a Tamil living in Tamil Nadu is more likely to feel loyalty for a Sri Lankan Tamil than for a Kashmiri. And if I am correct, why should we hold their chosen loyalty against the said Arunachali or ‘Indian’ Tamil?
Under such circumstances (of sectarian divides), are arbitrary lines drawn on paper, and a heady dose of patriotism sufficient to channelize our loyalties & energies in one direction and instill a feeling of oneness?
I have come to conclude that cultural heterogeneity interferes with unification of citizens. Pointing this out has become a taboo of sorts, and is immediately dismissed as anti-national. I am worried, that possibly people suffer from a deep guilt complex in this regard, and hence in their attempt to overcompensate do not even want to dwell on the issue.
I was amazed by how a friend of mine could befriend and extract discounts out of certain shopkeepers simply by mentioning he was a Marwari-Jain. Till that point, my belief had been shopkeepers are profit-minded people, and they could not be swayed by communal (click) sentiments! But I was wrong! [This is not an adverse comment against Marwaris or Jains because such sentiments are prevalent amongst almost all birth-based communities in India].
But there is a flip side, too, to such affinity shown by Marwari-Jain people that you must easily recognize, and that is a xenophobia of ‘not Marwari-Jain’.
This generic example can be extended to all communities in India and how they interact with each other and within themselves, and hence you will better appreciate why I feel India is several countries in one jostling with each for space, resources, attention and ‘supremacy’.
I hope at least a few readers will understand what I am trying to say.