There was a change, though - Deve Gowda hailed from Karnataka, and did not know or understood Hindi – and so, his Hindi speech had to be written in his native Kannada script… and was telecasted across the nation to an audience, more than 60% of whom also did not understand Hindi!!!
Yeh Mera India! ….
…where else in the world – but in India -can this happen?!!… the Chief Executive of a nation makes an address in a language which he does not understand, and to a people who also do not know that language!!!… (the 1961 census reported 1549 “mother tongues”!!!)
In my mind, that fascinating, but much neglected, event in the 49th year of the history of India is also the metaphor of what India is:
…its diversity weaved into a unity, a myth which became (is becoming?) a reality… the belief in a ‘concept’ of India which perhaps exists (and is taking roots) only in the minds of its people, a contradiction which is internally consistent… a belief, which is simultaneously ridiculous and sincere.
… Or the only oxymoron encapsulated in a single word – India!!
It seems so easy to say now that “India” became independent on August 15th, 1947… almost a trite statement in any history book.
But it always seemed a miracle, actually…. that we have something called “India”…
India is perhaps the only country in the world, where we have 18 scheduled “official” languages (and some 2,200 dialects) – and yet not one single language which everyone shares and can use to converse with others….
So how does this nation exist as an entity, when its members can’t even understand each other’s language?…
(And just to mention the obvious: though English is often touted as the cosmopolitan uniting language, but even then… as one of the largest English-speaking countries in the world, barely 30mn – or 3% - of Indian population can really speak, write and read English… in rest of the India, English is Hinglish: roadside dhabas who put up sign-boards announcing “Snakes served here”, or liquor shops where “Child Bear” is available, etc…. that’s how you can find “snacks” to have with your “chilled beer”!! )
Almost – or perhaps more than – a hundred years back, when Gopal Krishna Gokhle and Justice Ranade described India as a “Nation-in-Making”, I guess this is what must have been in their mind… that India is a process, a state of mind, and not an entity…
It is so easy to talk about “India” now – and know what one is referring to – but back in 1947, it must have been a faith-based shot in the mystical dark….
In 1957 – 10 years after “India” became “independent” - a research team from Jamia Milia did a survey across 4 north-central states of India, covering 150 villages. The findings:
If a common message, understanding, language, communication network, etc., is what is needed to unite and create a common identity as a nation, this is what we had around that time in mid-50s:
And yet, now, we do have a “Bharat”, which people know about and understand (even if it is not the same as the “India” which “shines”)…. At least we know what we are talking about….
…which is a miracle of sorts!
There were other miracles as well in the journey of this “Nation-in-Making”:
… and yet, now we have an “India” to talk about…
… and to be proud of:
It has been a long journey, and we have come a long way…
…and yet India still remains a “Nation-In-Making”… a contradiction in its own way..
… as India enters its 58th year as an “independent” sovereign nation (hopefully, we will mentally retire from being a colonial country in a year), one realizes that we all live in our own “India”… that there are many Indias - each different, and yet connected – and open to assimilate these differences and contradictions…
…perhaps that is what makes it such a fascinating place…
well, …Yeh Mera India!! – this is my India:
A Very Happy Independence Day to You!