Wanted a Unitary State
The Report of the S.R.C. is out for about a fortnight. Prominent persons in the political field stated giving free expression to their reactions to the recommendations of the Commission even before the report was officially published. Nobody seems to be satisfied. The whole atmosphere is charged with antagonism to the report. Feelings are rising high. All legislative groups are giving free vent to feelings of antagonism towards one another. No one group appears to be in a mood to co-operate with, and live side by side with another in one common administrative unit. Antagonism has been so intensified and aggravated as to take the form of deep-rooted hostility.
The British Propaganda
One cannot help remembering the propaganda the British Bureaucrat had made about this country and the people. He has emphatically been telling all the world to bear in mind that this is not one country but a continent like what modern Europe is – an extensive piece of land comprising many countries, many peoples, many nationalities all with their distinct racial, cultural and linguistic features. He has been warning all to be undeceived about the complexion of the people here, upholding that they are not one people at all in the sense of the unity of the people of England or France or Germany, but a conglomeration of numerous peoples having less in common with one another and having more differences with one another than even the peoples inhabiting the various countries of Europe; that ethnologically they are all of different racial stock; historically they have come to migrate into this land from some unknown home to take up their habitation here; politically they have been successive raiders and invaders ultimately settling down in the fertile territory and as a result, bearing towards one another inherent hostility latterly become latent and less prone to manifest itself in the shape of open violence; linguistically strangers to one another; culturally of different standards; and religiously so far divided as to be always ready to fly at each other’s throat.
The differences especially emphasised, and to a great extent fanned by them, were between the Hindus and the Muslims, the ‘Dravidas’ and the ‘Aryans’, the various sects such as the Jains and the Sikhs as against the rest of the Hindus, between the various castes each against the rest, more especially between the Brahmin and the non-Brahmin. They never tired of telling the world, and particularly to our own people, that it was their providential existence in the country as the sovereign power which had held all these forces of dissension in check and prevented the country from continuing to be a gruesome scene of violence, bloodshed, incessant, intermittent, internecine war, insecurity to life, honour and property; that they had supplied a stable government, just, merciful and progressive; and that it was only because of them, and during their continuance in power, that the sense of common motherland, patriotism and of a common nationality was being gradually forged out of this bewildering mass of heterogeneous, and often incompatible, peoples.
Leaders on Test
And for a time it did appear that one common love for the motherland had been infused, or had been renovated, among the people throughout the length and breadth of this land of Bharat; that, founded upon this love, a sense of one people and one nationality had been forged. All the leaders of the people spoke in terms of one nation and seemed to manifest a genuine faith in it. All voiced this great sentiment and tried to rouse the people to fight for the freedom of the country form the yoke of the Britisher. And it seemed that the whole mass of people had caught the sentiment.
But the Britisher never tired of reiterating and emphasising the differences, which he conceived and tried to inculcate in the people. He prophesied that with his withdrawal the land would be given to internecine feuds of all types and all order would be shattered, total chaos would prevail. With this he tried to justify his continuance – holding absolute imperialistic sway over our country. Our leaders, however, fancied that this was mere ‘propaganda, untrue, if not actually vicious’, and intensified the struggle for freedom in the belief that ideal of one nation had been realised as an actual fact by themselves and, following them, by all the citizens of the land. Eventually the Britisher was compelled, by force of circumstances, his shattered post-war condition and the pressure of international situation, to relax his grip over this country and give up governing the people entrusting that responsibility to the leaders, who had been so vociferously and persistently demanding self-government. And the time arrived when the vaunt of the leaders that they had forged and realised one common national life was to be put to test.
The Failures
What is the result of the test? To be honest it cannot be said that we have passed the test successfully. The first and most cruel blow to the professions of ‘One country, One Nation’ was dealt by the acceptance of the unhappy partition of our mother- Bharatabhoomi. It meant an acknowledgement that the Muslims formed a distinct and antagonistic national community, which had been tied down to live in this land with the Hindu Nation and which won for itself a distinct state by vivisection of the country in which they had originally come as invader and where they had been trying to settle down as conquerors. In spite of their protestations to the contrary, and vehement attempts to repudiate the two-nation theory indulged in by some – shall we say, indiscreet people? – the acceptance and, now, the justification of Partition, and the resultant separate Muslim State carved out of the body of the Motherland has clearly given the lie to all these protestations and proved that verbal professions and essential beliefs were not in harmony and that all along, somewhere in the background of the thought processes of all these eminent leaders, there did abide the belief in the existence of a separate Muslim nation ‘justly’ claiming a distinct state within the borders of what all claimed as one Motherland- fractioning the land and thus evincing an innate disbelief in the oneness of the Motherland as well.
This misuse of the slogan of the ‘right of self-determination’ has been extended to Kashmir, and now to Goa also. To say that Kashmiris shall determine their own future is to repudiate the oneness of the country and of the people here in Bharat. Then came our present Constitution converting our country into a number of almost distinct units each with a ‘state’ of its own and all ‘federated’ into one ‘Union’. When one pauses to think of the conditions in which makers of this Constitution lived when they framed this Constitution one sees that the atmosphere then was extreemely congenial to the formation and evolution of a Unitary State –One Country, One Legislature, One Executive Centre running the administration throughout the country- an expression of one homogeneous solid nation in Bharat or what remained of it then. But mind and reason of the leaders were conditioned by the obsession of ‘federation of states’ where each linguistic group enjoyed a ‘wide autonomy’ as ‘one people’ with its own separate language and culture.
At the Root of Federation
As far back as 1923 the Indian National Congress, which was then the only political party in the country claiming to represent the whole of the people, had envisaged such a federal pattern for our land and had opted for linguistic states going into the composition of that federation. What made them declare that to be the end for which they were working, is not clear. But in this connection a statement reported to have been made by a Conservative Member of the British Parliament expounding the need of provincial legislatures, that this step will eventually lead to a situation when, if British were to withdraw, the country would be divided into half a dozen or more mutually exclusive and mutually hostile linguistic states, seems to give the clue as to the origin from which this inspiration to establish ‘linguistic states’ and their ‘federation’ in the country, may have been inherited by the makers of that declaration.
Committed thus to establishing a federation of linguistic states, the Constitution which was ultimately adopted could not but be of federal structure accepting for the time being the existing provincial boundaries and exalting the erstwhile provinces to the status of almost autonomous ‘states’. The question of reorganisation of ‘state boundaries’ and demand for fulfilling the promise of the establishment of linguistic states was to be met with later, and now the S.R.C. has come forward with recommendations apparently unsatisfactory to all sections of the people. And the atmosphere is evidently one of mutual distrust, lack of goodwill, greedy clamour for grabbing more territory, exhibiting a rueful picture of so many wolves growling at one another over a carcass. The spectacle presented is so very painful. It seems as though the leaders are vying with one another in trying to justify the boast of the British Imperialist that but for his heavy hand over the affairs of the country the people would tear one another to pieces and the country would be steeped in confusion worse confounded.
Our Future at Stake
Why is all this happening? Why are all the professions of unity of the motherland and of the nation torn to shreds? Were these professions at all real? The present sorry state of affairs forces upon us the conclusion that those in charge of affairs in the struggle for freedom from the British yoke never realised that this was ‘One country, One People and One Nation’. The countrywide unity, temporarily manifested, was not the outcome of the positive understanding of our age-long national entity, of a realisation that the variety seeming to baffle those not conversant with the mode of our national thought and generous outlook granting full freedom for expression and evolution to all individuals and groups without disrupting the grand harmony of one homogeneous National Being – was just an expression of the richness of vitality of life, of successful synthesis referring the seeming difference to a deep fundamental unity, but was a mere patch-work, a temporary truce called to meet a common imperialistic adversary, a short-lived confederation invoked for the limited purpose of meeting a common danger born out of a negative feeling of antagonism to the rulers commonly foreign to all confederates, as a result of reaction to the British domination. That is why, we infer, as soon as the antagonistic British withdrew from the scene, the patched-up unity has fallen to pieces for want of a common adversary necessitating a united front to combat it with.
This is very doleful picture of our present condition. As we try to look ahead a dreary future looms before us, steeped in the darkness of despair about a better future. With the leaders guiding the destiny of the country today lacking in a positive understanding of the oneness of our holy motherland, of the living unity immortally underlying the rich variety in which eternal national consciousness has been always manifesting itself, and, as a result, indulging in encouraging fissions and fragmentations, it will be unwise to entertain any hopes for a bright future. Even our bare existence as a respectable free nation is in jeopardy and, in a world inhabited by power-seeking war-mongering peoples, our existence is precariously at the mercy of whimsical chance which may, at any moment, deluge the world in a dreadful struggle, form being submerged in which we may not hope to succeed. A house divided against itself is bound to fall.
There Is a Remedy
Dismal thoughts these. But there is no reason to give ourselves up to despair, for there is a remedy. The remedy lies in rooting out all tendencies towards separatism, all sentiments denying the firm faith in the oneness of the motherland and shaking free form all words and actions calculated to produce ideas contrary to the realisation of the oneness of our national life.
Towards this end the most important and effective step will be to bury deep for good all talk of a federal structure of our country’s Constitution, to sweep away the existence of all ‘autonomous’ or semi-autonomous ‘states’ within the one State viz., Bharat and proclaim ‘One Country, One State, One Legislature, One Executive’ with no trace of fragmentational, regional, sectarian, linguistic or other types of pride being given a scope for playing havoc with our integrated harmony. Let the Constitution be re-examined and re-drafted, so as to establish this Unitary form of Government and thus effectively disprove the mischievous propaganda indulged in by the British and so unwittingly imbibed by the present leaders, about our being just a juxtaposition of so many distinct ‘ethnic groups’ or ‘nationalities’ happening to live side by side and grouped together by the accident of geographical contiguity and one uniform supreme foreign domination. Let us be grateful to the makers of the present Constitution as also to the worthy members of the S.R.C. for the services rendered but let us not allow the nation to become a house divided against itself and heading towards destruction by falling to pieces. Let our present leaders of the affairs of the state take courage in both hands, take a realistic view of things, envisage the dangers of disruption staring us in the face, face the misguided opposition of such ill-informed people as may happen to stoop to such opposition and, with a firm hand, change the present ill-conceived federal structure to the only correct form of government, the unitary one.
Let Shankaracharya and Lincoln Inspire Present Leadership
With one sweep all talk of fragmenting the country will have been silenced, the rising tide of disunity, distrust and hostility put down, and conditions for a harmonious evolution of One Homogeneous People, One Nation, will have been established. There is no doubt that barring some vociferous elements the mass of the people will stand solidly behind such a scheme and our present leaders shall go down into futurity as the successful builders of Bharatiya national solidarity, will be worshipped by posterity as modern manifestation of a Shankaracharya, as Bharatiya parallels of an Abraham Lincoln.
The patriotism, and faith in the external Bharatiya Nation, of the leaders of our generation is being now put to the test. Whether they prove to be pure metal with a true ring, or mere tinsel, will be seen in the boldness they manifest and the steps they take now at this historic hour calling for all courage, determination and intense love for our ancient, but immortal nation. Let us pray to the Almighty, Who, in His wisdom, has always been guiding this Hindu Rashtra on the right path, the path of Dharma, that is the path holding the people together in one loving integrated unity, guide our leaders in this dark hour and inspire them with the right understanding and instil in them courage to tread along the right path for a glorious revival of our Great People.