“But, as I said in the beginning, Sahib, there are reasons why the British must rule India yet awhile. We Sikhs, woul would rule it otherwise, are all divided”
— Hira Singh
Alas, while this is India’s tragedy, it does mirror much of the tragedy of the world.
The Turks came into India and set up the Delhi Sultanate. Delhi was founded in 736 (so they say), as a city, but it was the Turks who first made it a major city. Then, the Afghans came into India in 1526 and set up the Mughal Dynasty. Delhi became a greater city.
The Turks and the Afghans became Indians over time. After the decline of the Mughal Dynasty, the British sneaked into India. They never did consider themselves to be part of India, and with them came the decline in India’s political and economic fortunes. England enriched itself at the expense of India, and when they left in 1947, they left a bloody mess in the form of a divided country.
It is easy for us to blame the British, and while they do bear much of the blame, we Indians also must take our share of the blame. In 1857, Hindus and Muslims fought together.
The British forces consisted of Hindus and Muslims fighting against the Mutineers.
A house divided.
After the Mutiny, the British rulers drove a deliberate wedge between the Hindus and Muslims. This lead to the formation of Pakistan, and I also think that this is when the seeds of modern terrorism were sown.
Yet, we as Indians, allowed ourselves to have this happen. When the British came in, they came in by forming alliances and turned king against king.
While they messed up the country, it was fair game, in a sense.
We deserved to be ruled and messed up.
Today, we do not seem to have learned the lessons of the past. Not just from a Hindu Muslim perspective, but also from the perspective of caste and regional politics.
We have developed a sense of nationhood, no doubt, but this can be strengthened.
However, if I were to turn this into a global issue, I only say – look around you. We are a world divided. The more we seem to have become ‘educated’, the more we seek differences rather than similarity.
The only question is, who is stronger? The world has become a more complex place. Despite the flood of data, and news bytes, we struggle to make sense of it all and turn this into useful information.
Weapons of destruction have become more sophisticated, and the people who send others into battle often do not feel the immediacy of conflict. They direct the messages of war and division from the comfort of their air-conditioned offices.
The problem now is deeper than it was 160 years ago. It is easier to spread messages of division today than it was 160 years ago.
Are we in control of ourselves?
Do we need the Little Green Men from Mars to come and knock some sense into us? The question is not as facetious as it may seem.