Reading the book: FLASHPOINTS by George Friedman, I was subconsciously driven to compare India as we see it today and Europe and to introspect on the flashpoints as applicable to India. India is not short on such flashpoints. The arguments that came to my mind are:
1. India is still a nascent democracy, continuing its experiment with it. In my view, India
was never one country until August 15, 1947 when it attained political
freedom from the colonial rule of the Imperial British. Historically, we were a
region ruled and controlled by regional satraps who called themselves kings or
even emperors. Never in the history of India was the whole region ever been
ruled by one person or entity. It is a union of hundreds of smaller regions
that had remained either as the fiefdoms of local rulers or under the control
of the colonial rulers, mainly the British.
2. As a region ruled by monarchs,
badshahs and sultans in different parts, India had
always remained a divided land - divided by its various languages, religions,
sects and subsects, castes and communities. Every ruler had indiscriminately
exploited such division using deceits, lies, and force. The resultant scar on
various communities have never disappeared.
3. India had remained one of the regions most invaded by external aggressors, leave alone the frequent mutual internal aggressions, wars and battles. The internal borders kept changing from decades to decades or even year to
year depending on
who ruled the particular region.
4. India had remained a rich place for its wealth, culture, literacy, manpower, natural resources, produces and markets. Commerce and trade with Indian subcontinent had always remained very lucrative. It has one of the longest, easily accessible seacoasts and deep harbors. The divisions and the lack of unity among the people had made the job of the aggressors quite easy.
5. India had been the birth place for a few major religions: Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism though these religions were all offshoots of the underlying doctrines of Hinduism, the religion of the majority of the region. Religious conflicts had existed even before the entry of Islam or Christianity into this region.
6. Many of the Indian rulers had enlarged their kingdom to include several parts of its neighboring areas like Afghanistan, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and several smaller islands. In the process, cultures and religions have mingled and Indian cultural and religious practices had been sown in those regions that can be seen even today. Likewise, the invading Muslim and Colonial Christian rulers too, had left their deep impression in India’s soil that continues to be the cause of India’s perpetual agony over a number of issues, including its religions, even today. Cultures of India had
comingled with those of the
invaders – mainly the Muslims and Christians from the Northwest and West.
Religion continues to be an unsolvable bone of contention among many.
7. The savage looting and exploitation of India’s resources had left deep scars among many within this region. Fundamentalist approaches within the majority religion – Hinduism – is slowly raising its head in a perceived attempt to counter and reset historical ‘blunders’
,- as they call it - causing further suspicion and
distrust from the minority religions.
8. When the euphoria over the freedom from the external rulers slowly died after the first few decades after India’s Independence, regional and sub-regional sentiments are getting
strong day after day as had been seen a thousand years ago.
9. India is delicately poised against its neighboring countries.
10. To cap it all, the latest addend into the already boiling cauldron of unsolved issues is the religious sentiments of a section of the majority religion – the so called ‘Hindutva’ group who
feel that the nation had suffered enough by
constant appeasement of the religious minorities for political reasons by the
erstwhile ruling elites. This section wants to reverse history and put things
in ‘proper perspective’.
There must be more to the list, I am sure. I am also not embarking upon explaining these points.
In conclusion, even as the world is talking about and questioning the future of
European Union – a visa free zone
of several countries and the Euro currency – a unified currency to meet the
challenges of the power of American dollars - created to avert future wars in
the European region and to stabilize and make progress in the region in a
peaceful environment, at least some in India too have started wondering - or
questioning - about the Indian experiment as one nation. Hopefully, the
experiment would survive and succeed even, as many seem to wish.