By Shashank Singh, IMI New Delhi
Prime Minister Modi’s recent unplanned stopover in Pakistan was a kind of a Diplomatic coup. For people in the government, the ruling party BJP and the Hindutva proponent RSS, the ‘Birthday Diplomacy’ was a master stroke towards ailing the wrecked relation between the two countries. While the opposition took this unexpected step as unwarranted and a blot on National integrity citing that the country has witnessed rising ‘cross border infiltration’ and ‘cease fire violation’ in the recent times. The recent Pathankot Airbase attacks have nonetheless bolstered Opposition’s remarks. Amidst this never ending debate between the Government and the Opposition, one of the comments by BJP’s Secretary and spokesperson Ram Madhav was outstanding. He supported the startling bonhomie between the two Prime Ministers and quoted it as a step towards building an “Akhand Bharat”. This term is something which has rarely been invoked since independence.
“Akhand Bharat” was the term first advocated by Mr. K.M. Munshi during the fight for Independence. This was a proposition strongly believed by Mahatma Gandhi as against the British policy of ‘Divide and Rule’. The proposed “Akhand Bharat” included now independent countries like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar also known as the SAARC nations.(Please refer the figure below).
These territories were thrice under the rule of Indian Kingdoms, first under the Great King Ashoka, second under the Mughal King Akbar and then under Marathas. But never in history were all these territories completely under one rule. What could not have been done under self-rule was done under oppression by the British Rule and the idea of Unified India or ‘Akhand Bharat’ was conceptualized.
The idea of ‘Akhand Bharat’ sparks a sense of pride in people who are familiar with Hindustan’s history. But with this also comes a shattering reality that the only place which has sustained a civilization for 5000 years is nothing less but fragmented now into 7 different nations. But this didn’t happen overnight. It took about 1000 years of foreign invasion, religious intermixing and foreign rule to dismember this one great ‘Aryvatra’. Still, a whim of a single nation or ‘Akhand Bharat’ gives a ray of hope of reviving the golden past.
For once let’s assume that all these nations come together and build a future that reflects the magnificent past. But then there are problems of plenty within and among these countries. Afghanistan, a worn-torn country for three decades, is still fighting for its rightful rule. Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nepal have been under threats of civil unrest for quite some time now. Bhutan along with Nepal, has always acted as a buffer state against any aggression by China. Apart from the current status of these countries, past also does not favour any Indianization of these countries as they have distanced themselves from India for quite a few centuries now, adapting to different culture, different aspirations, etc. Only two countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh, share a similar past, have somewhat similar present and have similar future aspirations. But the development over the six decades invites for a deeper inspection of these countries.
Pakistan, our neighbour by blood, was the first country in the world to be formed on the basis of religious faith. Since its inception on 14th August, 1947, a day prior to the Indian Independence Day, Pakistan traversed its path of religious and military governance. Pakistan’s birth was based on Jinnah’s ‘Two Nation’ theory. Jinnah vehemently believed that Independent India cannot have a place common for both Hindus and Muslims. This notion arose because Muslim rulers had ruled India for about 8 centuries by then only to be hegemonized by the Britishers later. He also believed that Hindus, thrice more in population than the Muslims, will eventually subjugate Muslims. Thus a free nation with two states, West Pakistan and East Pakistan separated by hundreds of miles, was formed.
The birth of Pakistan was on religious lines and hatred against the Hindu community. The history was changed in the textbooks of elementary education, fomenting against Indians, categorically Hindus. Even the Hindu freedom fighters were downplayed and Musilm invaders like Mohommad Ghori, Mohammad Ghazni and Babur revered. Pakistan has long range missiles named as Ghori, Ghazni and Babur after them.
This Anti-Indian hatred amongst the common public and the military gave space for the non-state actors or the terrorists to flourish. For long, the terrorists from cross border have been disturbing peace in India. Only recently Pakistan found out that it cannot keep snakes in its background expecting them to bite their neighbours only. Pakistan now is under a severe threat from extremist groups and the internal peace is compromised.
The neighbour on the east, Bangladesh has its origin way earlier before 1971 during the Partition of Bengal in 1905 by Lord Curzon. This Partition was also regretfully done on the basis of religion, the Hindus dominated Bengal remained ‘Bengal’ Province while the Musilms dominated Bengal became ‘East Bengal and Assam’ province with Dacca as capital. East Bengal post independence became East Pakistan and later an independent country called Bangladesh. Marred by the exploitation by a diplomatically strong West Pakistan, Bangladesh was economically weak since its beginning. But the country has since then taken various Economic and Social measures and is trying to overcome aggrieved poverty through measures of development. Relation with India has relatively been good, and issues like Border dispute have been recently sorted out. India can be quite relieved to see a comparatively stable neighbour on its eastern side and take Bangladesh in confidence in all its future endeavours.
Keeping in mind the current situation, the idea of “Akhand Bharat” seems farfetched. Even if the countries come together to form a single nation, the poison of ‘culture’ and ‘distance’ inflicted deep under is enough not to heal again.
But then, the idea of peace should not be sidelined. South Asian countries are the emerging Economies. Only a peaceful collaboration can hasten their pace of development. If SAARC countries can come along and form an Economic Union on the lines of ‘Eurozone’, the idea that has long been mooted, the face of the subcontinent can change. But before that several bilateral and regional issues have to be meted out. This remains in the hand of the Government and future generations to break free from past hassles and strive for a better living, coexisting together in harmony forever.
Categories: Students Speak