The year 2007 marks 60 years of India’s freedom and the historian Ramachandra Guha has an important post-independence book lined up, India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Larest Democracy (Picador). Outlook has published excerpts from the forthcoming book in its issue dated 7 May 2007, entitled “Why India Survives”.
“Among the institutions that keep the country together are those bequests of the British—the civil service, the army, the railways, the English language, and the game of cricket. Working with or in subordination to a democratic and federal Constitution, these institutions have ensured that in over four-fifths of India, the elected government enjoys a legitimacy of power and authority…
“The economic integration of India is a consequence of its political integration. They act in a mutually reinforcing loop. The greater the movement of goods and capital and people across India, the greater the sense that this is, after all, one country.
“Apart from these elements of politics and economics, cultural factors have also contributed to national unity. Pre-eminent here is the Hindi film. This is the great popular passion of the Indian people, watched and followed by Indians of all ages, genders, castes, classes, religions, and linguistic groups.”
Agree? Disagree? Have our status quoist babus been a help or a hindrance? Has cricket been a unifying factor or a colonial legacy that has helped squander our potential? Have Hindi movies bound us together or been the opium, providing a hazy escape from the reality? Tell.