The idea of India is an intellectual contest since the moment Nehruji, uttered his memorable Freedom at Night.. independence day speech. Every nation builds its culture derived from the majority religion in the nation, The secular yet culturally Christian West, The Muslim World across the Organization of Islamic Countries, Arab League, GCC are very particular about reflecting Islamic Values in their daily lives, as it is not only a Faith, but a world view, culture and governing and legal system as well. Japan and Korea are very modern, but have Buddhist leanings. Thailand, Burma and Cambodia are very Buddhist in character, indeed and hence their cultural ethos. Turkey and Indonesia are secular by constitution, but Islam being the majority religion is the moral compass in daily lives.
India is a continent in itself, an anthropologist’s paradise and a complex model on to itself. A 5000 year old civilization, multi religious country with multitudes of races, linguistic groups and sub communities. Its Organized chaos at its best. China with all its dialects and regional variations, implemented the one national language policy with Mandarin, which made communication uniform from Qingdao to Guangzhou. Even Hindi as a National Language is contested with it not being taught to my Tamil friends down south. Following the Singaporean model of Multi-Racial harmony with four National Languages is an excellent model, but consensus is something hard to ferment in India, apart from Bollywood, Cricket or a territorial conflict with Pakistan.
A Language is a frame of mind, a window to a culture and the diversity in India is a our biggest strength and an enormous weakness as well. This coupled with caste based politics and fragmentation in India with affirmative action for lower castes in the Hindu fold, makes the concept of an Indian Identity harder to define than rocket science. A hundred low level separatist movements around the country, weaved around identity and economic issues do not help either. India is a vibrant, economic power with global aspirations, identity has risen above social and ethnic factors to a single economic community identity like the EU or the former Soviet Bloc, with regional political players and two national parties with in significant reach in one part of the nation or other. There are many sub identities, within the larger persona of being an Indian. This a question to be answered by every citizen of this nation. Identity is a work in progress all the time but a National Identity helps build resilience and further social capital. Lets Build One India, like One Malaysia not only in campaign but in spirit as well.