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Wednesday 14 September 2011

“Vedi Bana” of India

India may be a single state nominally. It claims to have a pseudo federal constitution and has a Lok Sabaha at Delhi. However are the citizens of India, Indians first and then Sikhs, Tamils, Bengalis etc., or the other way round? If not for cricket, of course introduced by the British Raj and for Hindi films is there an Indian identity as such? India which had never been a single polity until the English came to that part of the world, is ruled according to the structures introduced by the Englishmen, with the English speaking Viceroy replaced by a Hindi speaking Prime Minister. It is very unlikely that India will have a Muslim Prime Minister who cannot speak Hindi in the near future.

India has been demarcated into what are called states on linguistic basis, with each state having its own chief minister. There may be a few Tamils in Tamil Nadu such as Mr. Narayanaswamy who could think of themselves as Indians first even when India is not at a game of cricket with other countries, and then as Tamils, but the overwhelming majority of Tamils in Tamil Nadu as well as in other places in India first think of themselves as Tamils and then as Indians.

The recent death sentence given to two Tamils presumably from Tamil Nadu and one Tamil from Sri Lanka for killing Mr. Rajiv Gandhi illustrates the point. For the Tamils from Sri Lanka who were LTTE cadres or supporters, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India and an order from Prabhakaran was enough for them to go into action and assassinate the Indian Prime Minister. Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was from a different country, and in the eyes of the LTTE, had at that time become an obstacle to declaring an Eelam in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. However, for the Tamils from India Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of their country and there was no need for them to support the LTTE and Prabhakaran unless they considered themselves as Tamils first and then, if at all, as Indians. It is clear that as far as the Tamils from India too were concerned Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was from a “different country” and all that they wanted was an order from Prabhakaran. In Sri Lanka the LTTE terrorists killed the Sri Lankan President Mr. Premadasa who for the LTTE was from a different country.

The question may be asked as to why the LTTE killed Sri Lankan Tamils such as Messrs. Neelan Thiruchelvam, Lakshman Kadirgamar, A. Amirthalingam, and Alfred Duraiappa. They were killed for different reasons. They were all considered as traitors though not for the same reason. According to the LTTE some collaborated with the enemy Sinhala government whereas some others were Hindu Vellalas who not only did not support the LTTE as much as the latter wanted but were also oppressors of the so called low castes. It has to be emphasized that the LTTE fought against not only the “Sinhala government” and the Sinhala people but also the Hindu Vellala leadership. The Vellalas had wanted the LTTE to fight the latter’s “war”, but the former have had different ideas from the very beginning illustrated by the killing of Uma Maheswaran by Prabhakaran.

It has not been explained adequately why the death sentence given to the three assassins of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was postponed by eight weeks. It gives ample time for people such as Vaiko to raise public opinion against the sentence, and if he were to be successful it would create problems for Delhi. Already some of the other states have come out against some of the Tamil Nadu leaders, and it is clear that India is a pseudo federal state only nominally and very superficially.

What is clear is that India is a failed pseudo federal state in the vocabulary of the western pundits who are followed by their counterparts in India, and the irony is that India wants to impose this unsuccessful model on us using their political muscle. If not for international cricket and Hindi films there is nothing in India to unite the citizens as even Hinduism practiced in different parts of the country take different forms from worship of Shiva to worship of Vishnu through worship of Kali and others becoming dominant in different areas. The IPL has acted wisely not only in making big money but also in refusing to have teams based only on players from each state. If IPL had organized a contest between teams drawn only from cricketers from each state it would have by now grown into an inter state “war” probably leading to secession. It is very unlikely that the IPL contest was organized after taking consideration into this factor as they were only interested in attracting overseas players to earn big money. However, the conditions in India are so volatile that the Indians have failed in their attempt to establish even a stable pseudo federal state. Except for a small percentage of people educated in the English tradition and who have absorbed/imitated the English political systems into their culture, the vast majority of people consider themselves as Indians only after calling themselves Sikhs, Tamils, Gujaratis, Bengalis etc.

The unfortunate Buddhists have no place in government except for an occasional diplomat and Mr. Ambedkar would be turning in his grave for what has happened in that part of the world where Prince Siddhartha Gauthama attained Buddhathva. I am sure that in India Mr. Gautham Gambhir is known much more than Prince Siddhartha Gauthama, though the latter had been more “Gambhira” unknown to most of the Indians. Incidentally I wonder how many Buddhists have played for the Indian cricket team from the time when India (with present Pakistan and Bangladesh) was given test status. I am not asking this question to show that the Buddhists have not been given their due place in professions and government in India but to show that the Buddhists in India are a very much marginalized poor and outcast community. If not for the steps taken by Sinhala Bhikkus in our country to protect Buddha Sasana to the dismay of the westerners and their henchmen and henchwomen in the Universities and in the NGOs Theravada Buddhism would have disappeared from the surface of the Planet.

India is not a haven where different communities have equal status. It is not multicultural except in a very narrow sense of the word. Even with Cricket and Hindi films and songs, India has not been able to evolve a policy where Hindi is the official language and Hindi culture has special significance without the other cultures being ignored. Most probably the young educated would have copied western ideals without realizing that in the west it is the Judaic Christian culture which is the dominant culture and certainly not the Muslim culture. The non Hindi speaking people could say that they were taken for a ride by the central government or the Indian Prime Ministers from the time of independence. Hindu India has failed to imitate British India and without any alternative form of government India is only preaching “Vedi Bana” to Sri Lanka.

Copyright Prof. Nalin De Silva