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इंडियन आवाज़     25 May 2024 04:32:03      انڈین آواز

Is language defines the unity of India?

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Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Bharatruhari Mahtab raised a set of a very pertinent questions in Lok Sabha on September 18. That was the last working session in the Old Parliament House — which has been now renamed as Samvidhan Sadan, reports Nirendra Dev

“This political map (of India) came into existence 75 years ago. A question may arise, is it the language that keeps us together? Andhra Pradesh sharing the same classical language, Telugu, split into two States. Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh being Hindi speaking States also split in the not so recent pas” Mahtab said.

“If language cannot unite even the States and provinces, how can it be the basis of a nation? Are we united because of culture? Culturally, Bengalis and Bangladeshis share similar linguistic culture, icons, food, dress, but they have different majority religions and have fought bitter battles a few decades ago.

Then the Cuttuck lawmaker posed another query – and a vital one once again, “Is it Hinduism that defines the unity of India? Then why is Nepal a different country? Had religion been the defining force of a nation, then all Muslim countries would be one nation? All Christian countries would also be in one nation? But that is also not the case.”

Subsequently, he tried to explain, “As we see, none of the factors like language, religion or culture guarantee to remain one as a nation. The political landmass that we call Bharat or India is because of our Constitution. Article 1 defines our nation today.

“And that was framed in this edifice 75 years ago. We all believe in the Constitution. It is our respect towards our National Flag, National Anthem and National Emblem that holds us to our nation. It is our trust in electoral democracy despite its flaws.”

Then he stated, “We all believe that all are equal before the law, irrespective of gender, race, religion, caste, language or culture, and this keeps us together. This present model has so far proved better in keeping us together. If we forget this, it will splinter into many parts like how it was for most parts of our history.

And then he said, “Our Republic is commemorating the 150th birth year of Sri Aurobindo, the 90th death anniversary of Bipin Chandra Pal, and the 103rd birth anniversary of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Long before, in 1905, these three intellectual giants laid the foundation of our freedom struggle with clarity on the power of Swaraj, nationalism and Sanatan Dharma”.

“It is the great resilience and tolerance of the Indian people that have contributed to the unity amidst fascinating diversity. It is the spirit of togetherness, tolerance and acceptance of other points of view that have bound us together, the people of Bharat, of diverse regions and culture while extreme individualism and separatism have marked the evolution of European nationalism,” he said.

A powerful and a lucid orator that he is, Mahtab then referred to certain limitations and demerits.

“Admittedly, all was not well with the Indian civilization in its journey towards unity and integration of our nation,” he said and then paid respect to India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

“We should remember the painstaking effort that Sardar Patel had made in uniting this country. The princely States were declared as independent, and there were certain major princely States of that era who wanted to ally with Pakistan.”

Mahtab went on, “If Karachi Port access was to be provided, Jodhpur was supposed to ally with Pakistan. If Visakhapatnam Port access was supposed to be provided, then Hyderabad would have emerged as a bigger country, including the eastern State provinces within it, today after 75 years. But that was dealt with very strongly and a great nation was formed.”

Then he pointed out as a seasoned parliamentarian and as a an of few words that, “Today, a number of fault lines are still there. The fault lines have been too many in modern India that we have inherited.”

“A few are from the past, and new ones have been created after the Independence. I will just give some instances. Caste exists. That is a major fault line in our country. Communal divide is there. No matter what we say, it is there. Terrorism is the biggest enemy. Ultracommunism or communist revolt is also affecting a large part of our country,” Mahtab stated.

He further said, “Paradox of personal laws is glaring. The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression. Yet, repressive personal laws take away basic, fundamental rights of an individual. This was demonstrated in the late eighties when Shah Bano got a verdict from the Supreme Court, and it was undone here in this House.”

Yet, he said, “The concept of Bharat has existed for more than 5000 years from the Harappan age till date. In spite of all the vicissitudes, the sense of oneness exists”.

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