Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Notion of Nation: Indian Republic at Sixty

 On the occasion of celebrating the Sastipoorthy (Sixty years) of Indian Republic on 26th January 2010, it was indeed a matter of great pride and joy for India to celebrate the democratic nationhood within the given parameters of liberty, equality, fraternity, sovereignty and secularism. Sixty years of Indian Republic also coincided with the celebrations of the sixty years of Indian Constitution and the sixty years of ‘Janagana mana…’ as a national anthem, which further strengthened the patriotic spirit of Indiahood among its citizens. Thanks to the contributions of all our great Indian heros and sheros, for their relentless services for the cause of India as a nation and for the proud legacy they have left with.

India as the largest democracy in the world, with an outstanding written Constitution has treaded the path thus far with several ups and downs. After sixty years, an introspection as a nation is required. Have we as India lived up to the values of the nation, which we have been proud of? Have we as India promulgated the values of our Constitution to the generations next? Have we been successful in implementing laws that were written to safeguard its citizens? The list of these questions will keep spiraling, for sixty years as a nation has always been a challenge to live at and live with.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, the architect of Indian Constitution, with his heart for the transformation of Indian society from the clutches of discrimination and oppression was vocal in reminding India what it means to be a nation. As a social philosopher, his commitment to the politics of India remains prophetic and inspiring. At this point, it may not be out of place to recollect the famous words of Dr. Ambedkar said on 26th January 1950 on ‘Are we a Nation?’ Though it has been sixty years since he has said, he comes alive with his words, for his words are challengingly relevant for our times now and here.

Dr. Ambedkar spoke,
“There is no nation of Indians in the real sense of the world, it is yet to be created. In believing we are a nation, we are cherishing a great delusion. How can people divided into thousand of castes be a nation? The sooner we realise that we are not yet a nation, in a social and psychological sense of the world, the better for us.”

Nation Evolves
The idea of nationhood not only has political overtones to it, but also has the social, economic and cultural fabric beguiled to it. According to Ambedkar, the idea of nation is still to be created, which implies that ‘nation’ as such is not static and lethargic, but which is in continuous momentum growing and keeps evolving. Therefore India as a nation is continuously evolving, for there is dynamism in the concept of nation for India. If we are content with the idea of nation, we have been blinding ourselves from the growing realities of our day.

Nation Erupts
He had a strong case at point to argue his idea, the reality of castes in India. People and societies divided into a number of castes and sub-castes cannot make a nation. A nation is one, which is over against divisions of any kind, specially divisions of caste, which is evil and oppressive. Jesus’ prophetic words come handy at this point. For Jesus said “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand" ( Mat 12:25) With the kind of caste hierarchies that exist in India, the divisions caste perpetuate, the discriminations caste flames up, I am afraid can India even become a nation without these divisions and discriminations? Unless caste is completely wiped of, the nation India cannot avoid an eruption, an eruption of revolution for transformation.

Nation Empathizes
Though caste system is an age-old reality in India, unfortunately most of our Indian sociologists have not analysed caste as a factor that determines Indian society today. However when we are re-visiting the notion of nation today, I think it is immanent to realize that caste is the cruelest forms that exist to divide and discriminate people, which makes us India not be a nation in its fullest sense. It is time to overcome caste and all its forms, for only then our sixty years of India as a republic will have its meaning. As responsible citizens of this country we need to empathize with the margninalised, the oppressed, the discriminated and make equality, liberty and fraternity a reality.

At this point, the communiqué of the NCCI on the occasion of India’s sixtieth Republic day, “We the People of India… Missiological imperative for the Church in the seventh decade of Indian Republic” issued by Rev. Asir Ebenezar, the Officiating General Secretary of NCCI found on the link deserves immense appreciations. For it has called on the Church in India to work on the collective political activism and to search for new relevant spaces where she can impress on the citizens of India towards a common goal of life to all, with a preferential option to those who are oppressed and marginalized. Institutions like churches should become the channels where issues of political importance are discussed and addressed. Churches should join with other faith based agencies and community based organization to facilitate political activism and strive towards brining a change in our society.

Time is ripe, for us as citizens of India to comply to that fact that we have not made ourselves to be a nation, with the growing divisions in the name of caste, creeds, colour, gender, regions languages etc. At the same time, this is also the time for us to make a pledge to make India truly a nation defeating all the disparities and divisions. When justice is ensured, liberty is lived out, fraternity is affirmed and unity is ascribed, only then India can and will be a nation. On this sixtieth anniversary of Indian Republic, let us make India to become a nation, a nation free from divisions and discriminations, a nation free from dominance and oppression, into that freedom of heaven my Father, let my country awake.


dimoe.heilbronn said...

Hello Raj Bharath Patta,

thank you for your contribution to the world. I actually came across your page because I was searching for the "resource": "We, the people of India" / "Missiological imperative...". I was announced in the NCCI News flash, but then I cannot get it from that webpage. - Can you send it to me, or tell the NCCI that somehow that document is not available?

If you want to learn about me, I wrote a blog on my 2009 journey to India:

In Germany I am working within a church department "Service for Mission, Ecumenical Relations and Church Development Services" - you can get it here:

Greetings, joined in the struggle for Dalit liberation,

raj bharath patta said...

hello Mr. Ravinder. Thank u for taking time to drop into my blog and pen ur comments. I have gone through ur blog and ur observations on ur visit to India. Thank u also for ur solidarity with our Dalit struggles. You can view the resource on "We the People.." on the following link. take care and we ll be in touch.

Sonal said...

Well wrtten piece Bharath!

dimoe.heilbronn said...

Thanks, Raj Bharath Patta! I composed a message for our DiMOE-webpage (, where it will appear next week probably.

Greetings, Ravinder.

dimoe.heilbronn said...

Hi, NCCI missiological statement has now appeared as a message on our webpage

Greetings, Ravinder.