(Note: This blog was published on 30.10.2015)
The nations exists to segregate one class of people from another. There are indeed instances of dual and multiple nationality existing within the same country, and also there are examples of the same nationality spread over more than one country. Mostly, the nationality is decided on the basis of language, but there are examples like India where multiple languages are spoken in the same country. If language should be the sole criterion for determining nationality, the world is fast merging into three nations: the China, the Spain and the England. But, of course, that’s not true; so, language can’t be the sole criterion for determining nationality. Unlike sovereignty, the concept of nationality is a natural and an unforced one, and attempts to create artificial nationalities generally fail. Rather, most of the times a nationality can only be ascertained from its historical resilience. Let us discuss India as a nation from the above perspective.
The widest concept of India as a nation is that of the right wingers, who consider the whole of geographical region from Hindukush to Eastern Himalayas and the plain areas connected thereto as one nation. They have also added the Dravidian land into the above region and call the two regions together as one nation. They consider themselves as Aryans, and Arya religion as the religion of the nation called India or Hindustan. Though they have conveniently accepted their own assault on the Dravidians and other aborigines as a process of historical evolution of the nation of India, but fail to accept the assault of the Muslims on the Hindus/Aryans as part of the same process. In fact, now they have accepted the Two Nation theory of Jinnah as a compromise and consider Pakistan, who they think represents their assaulter, as their biggest enemy. On the other side in Pakistan, barring a few liberal voices the whole of Pakistan considers India and Pakistan as two separate nations strongly divided on the basis of religion. They have not come to terms with the separation of East Pakistan from themselves as a separate nation called Bangladesh, which as the name suggest has been formed on the basis of language spoken in that region as distinct from that spoken in Pakistan. The moderate and liberal voices in India and Pakistan also more or less accept the Two Nation theory now. I don’t think anybody in India or Pakistan or Bangladesh now dare dream of one nation in the dominant atmosphere of conservatism/nationalism prevailing in these countries.
I think the concept of India as a nation has always been a forced and a fraudulent one. The Dravidian land was never the part of India. They were always the occupied land. With post-independence liberalization/Nehruvianism, they have indeed played a pivotal role in the build-up of modern India and are indeed the first claimant of the nationality called India, but that is not acceptance of the idea of India as propounded by the right wingers, the Pakistanis or the Bangladeshis. They still exist parochially as a separate and distinct class separated from the Aryans/Hindus. Elsewhere, the two languages Punjabi and Bangla have very strong regional influence. This influence transcends borders and artificial barriers created by the Two Nation theory. The influence is so strong at times that it very strongly opposes the nationhood of the Hindi belt and the Urdu belt. It would not be wrong to suggest that had there been no Partition, West Bengal and Bangladesh should have been one nation. Ditto for the two Punjabs plus Multan. In fact, the Hindi belt in India is also not a very strong concept. The Hindi speaking regions of North India rather speak a language which is an amalgamation of Hindi and Urdu, commonly known as Hindustani. Other regions in Hindi belt like Bihar, Purvanchal, Bundelkhand, etc, have their own local dialects. The right wingers at present are trying to bind these Hindi belt regions, if nothing else then as a “Cow” belt, but I think the Muslims have integrated so very well in India now that this agenda is bound to fail like the failed agenda of “Ghar Wapisi”. So, in fact, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are not nations at all. These are just part of a geographical region comprising many nationalities as in Europe. The artificial boundaries created by Partition may have created separate military and citizenship, but not nations. Nation is too broad and resilient a concept to be changed by events like Partition. Nor can a Nehru, a Jinnah or a Savarkar define a nation.
I have never believed in nationalism not only because I fail to accept a nation but also because even if I accept, say for example Punjab plus Multan, I find it difficult to defend it against the other nations like the Bangla, the Hindi (“Cow” belt or otherwise), the Dravida, etc. None of the other nations (including “Cow” belt) have ever posed any danger of existence to me (not till now at least); so, why should I build up military under some paranoia! If that makes me anti-national, so be it; I am indeed anti-national!
P.S. I agree those Muslims who have started considering themselves as a separate nation within the boundaries of India would have started building up military against the military of the “Cow” belt, but neither of the two militant nationalism affects me at present. And the present resistance of the Writers, Artists, Intellectuals, Scientists, et al, does provide me solace, for I am well-educated and am patient enough to tolerate till the efforts of these resistors bear fruits, but not all may be so patient; so, indeed the time is running out.