Kartvya Path in Delhi (File image)
Photo : PTI
A Lot in a Name
Across civilizations, various words have been used to describe the Indian nation. These include Aryavarta, Jambudweep, Bharat, Hindustan and India. But the name that got struck post-independence within and outside the country is India, a name that first emerged in the modern English usage in the late seventeenth century and got picked by the British to describe the Indian Subcontinent. The second most popular name of the country is supposed to be Hindustan, it got popular currency during the Mughal era. Both India and Hindustan have had the recent origins, and their aetiology can be traced back to the river Indus.
But there is one name of the country that is rooted in its ancient civilizations.
Members of the Constituent Assembly while framing the Constitution of India, faced with the knotty problem, what name to be given to this newly independent nation. And the answer they stumbled upon was a compromise. This led to the description of the country in the Article 1 of the constitution as “India that is Bharat….”
Clearly, the framers of the Constitution preferred “India” as the first name and “that is Bharat” was a compromise addition, notwithstanding that the name Bharat to describe the country finds its reverberations first in Vedas (Rig Veda, the oldest of the four) and Mahabharata.
The problems with us Indians are we are just too apologetic talking about our own and relics, that is dharohar of our own civilizations. This traditional hesitation is conclusively and unapologetically broken by reputed journalist Utpal Kumar in his first book: “Bharat Rising- Dharma, Democracy and Diplomacy”.
Utpal breaks the hypocrite mould at once when he introduces our motherland as “Bharat that is India” instead of the off repeated clique simply “India” or “India that is Bharat”. Having read the riveting and eminently readable 250-page magna-carta gives me the Aha moment- Bharat time rather Bharat Rising moment has finally arrived.
Bold, Provocative, Argumentative
Bharat rising is not the first of the “New India” books. I have read a dozen of the genre. And say so with conviction that “Bharat Rising” so far is, but it is concise, forthright, and the best I have laid my hands. Indubitably it is a brand-new conception of Bharat, a bold, provocative and argumentative piece and even if a reader may/ may not agree with all his conclusions, the central message of the book both about the seismic and subtle shifts in India’s state craft and awakening of a new nation that is not apologetic about its past is irrefutable, clearheaded and is difficult to ignore.
Indubitably, in the bold, provocative and argumentative, narrative of the well-researched, anecdotal and hard-hitting Bharat Rising the author takes a tough stand and uses terse language, as he takes the reader on a rather factual tour of the challenges faced by Bharat in past and present and likely contour to emerge for the future. But it also forces the reader to look critically about how Bharat given the varied fault lines it has faced, and faces looks at itself and the world around it as it rises and becomes more self-confident, an India at ease with the country’s civilizational and cultural past as well as dealing with contemporary challenges and power equations in a world that is getting fractured along new lines”.
Taking onto ‘Leuten’s Delhi”
The book that takes readers on a tour of the various aspects of Indian civilization e.g. culture, religiosity, politics, democracy and diplomacy, early on makes the frontal attack on the deeply entrenched, highly networked, pedigreed, exclusive and power-hungry elites of “Leuten’s Delhi”, also known as “Khan Market” gang that since independence through decades of Nehru-Gandhi family raj and even the era when outsiders ruled (P V Narashimha Rao, Atal Bihari Bajpayee and Manmohan Singh) these later non Nehru dynasty Prime Ministers too were so smitten by the charm of Leuten Delhi that they always wanted to in the good book of them and the the later were so intrenched in the system that it was often called that irrespective of who was the Prime Minister it was Leuten Delhi gang that ruled the nation.
The book rightly lays the emphasis on the fact that Modi being not inclined to endear him to the Leuten Delhi initiated the process of democratisation and decolonization of the elitists, insular and vastly compromised, Left liberal Laurens’s world. This indeed was one of the early victories of Modi.
A Two Part Story- Rise of a New Nation
The book indeed starts with talking about the democratization and decolonisation of the Leuten’s world as it analyses the rise of a new nation shedding its traditional distrust if not distaste, for the country’s civilizational and the cultural past. There are two neat but overlapping compartments of the book, of six chapters each. The first section “Dharma and Democracy” chronicles Bharat’s new historical awakening while the second “Democracy and Diplomacy”, examines the brave new diplomacy of the new government, that is slowly shedding the “Panipat Syndrome”.
Indubitably, even on the rapid first reading I find Bharat Rising: Dharma, Democracy, Diplomacy a sincere, honest, riveting unputdownable treatise of exploring and examining the rise of a new India that is prouder, stronger and more nationalist both from domestic as well as external diplomatic perspectives.
A New Historical Awakening
Make no mistake, Bharat is rising, with modern sensibilities and civilizational surefootedness. Message from the Ayodhya Dham is that never in the past seventy-six years, have dharma and diplomacy played such an intense role in propelling Indian democracy to the league of extraordinary lessons and it bodes well to make India a developed nation by 2047.
It is time for me to end the piece with what Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul in 2016 told Dileep Padgaonkar then Editor of the Times of India’. He said – “Today it seems to me that Indians are becoming alive to their history… [The invaders] were conquering, they were subjugating. And they were in a country where people never understood this… only now are the people beginning to understand that there has been a great vandalizing of India”.
To give a parting note, Naipaul did not equate the new Hindu awakening with fundamentalism. According to him, unlike Islamic fundamentalism, which ought to establish a puritanical form of Islam, the new Hindu awakening was not driven by religion but by awareness and self-respect.
Author of Bharat Rising looks at project of Prime Minister historic temple restoration and Rejuvenation in Ayodhya, Varanasi, Kedarnath and Ujjain amongst others, through this broader civilization perspective and framework. I wish from here starts the grand awakening of the nation that takes us to the Viksit Bharat by 2047 if not earlier.