As everyone knows now, in August 1947, we became citizens of the Independent India.
At the time of independence, however, such a statement had an "operational"/ etymological problem in terms of interpretation, viz.,
what is "Independent India"?
The appreciate the import of this point, one must look at the findings of a 1957 survey that Jamia Milia University had conducted in 150 villages in the four northern states. The findings:
And this was 10 years after the independence!!...
So how does a nation become independent, when some of its own populace are not even aware of this fact? And how does a nation become a nation, when some of its inhabitant do not even know its name?
60 years later, now, it is difficult to imagine the challenge it must have been to create a national identity, out of what, at that time, must have been a patchwork collage.
Hindi was proposed to be the national language, but more than half of India did not understand Hindi (and still does not). The recommendation got postponed till 1965 due to protest from the southern India - an issue that has not been resolved... Even now, only 30-40% of Indian population understand Hindi (and barely 30mn out of a population of more than 1bn speak/understand English)... So we continue with a pragmatic "twin language" system.
To make things more complicated, there were hardly any "communication channels" which could connect one across different segments and people, for instance, even by mid-50s:
In an article written in 1959 in the Atlantic Monthly, journalist Arthur Bonner described an incident, that perhaps examplifies the "connectivity" (or the lack of it) in India at that time...
- "I stopped at a post office and saw, in a corner, a short spear with two little bells attached to the shaft near the head. I recognized it, from descriptions in books, as a spear carried by dak (mail) runners. I thought it was a relic of the days when the mail was delivered by runners who needed the spear to protect themselves from robbers and wild animals and who carried the bells just to keep up their courage as they jogged along jungle trails. But the postmaster assured me that he still delivered some of his mail by runners who took three days going out along one route and three days coming back by another."
So isn't is a miracle of sorts, that now we have something called "India"?... which we can describe and dentify tangibly, recognise as a defined entity, feel happy/peeved about, pass judgements upon, or eulogise, its previous stakeholders, etc...
...and to conclude, an episode that happened just about 10 years back:
- "In 1996, on 15th August, the Independence Day, the 9th Indian Prime Minister, HP Deve Gowda stood up and delivered the traditional Independence Day Address to the Nation from the Red Fort. Like his previous eight predecessors in previous 49 years, he delivered this traditional speech in the "national" language – Hindi.
There was a change, though - Deve Gowda hailed from Karnataka, and did not know either Hindi or English – and so, his Hindi speech had to be written in his native Kannada script... and was telecasted across the nation.
I mean, where else in the world - but in India - can the Chief Executive of a nation make a speech in a language that he does not understand, addressing an audience of whom more than 60% also do not know that language!!!
...More than a century back, during the freedom struggle, justice Ranade had described India as a "Nation-in-Making"... In many ways, we remain a nation-in-making.. even now!!!...