India's Founding Fathers

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Known_Unknown, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

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    Book Review: Righteous Republic - WSJ.com

    By SUDHA KOUL

    Britain dominated India for almost two centuries—initially through the East India Co. and later directly as the Raj—finally granting it independence in 1947. The Indian anti-colonial struggle was unique in that it reached its goal without violent overthrow. This was one of the great achievements of the nationalist movement's enlightened leadership.

    In "Righteous Republic: The Political Foundations of Modern India," the historian Ananya Vajpeyi shows how these leaders looked to ancient Indian texts and traditions as they led the nation toward swaraj, or self-rule. The author profiles five prominent anti-colonial leaders and examines how each of them contributed to the nation's successful "search for the self": Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, who need no introduction; the Bengali poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore; his nephew, the artist Abanindranath Tagore; and B.R. Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian constitution.

    India had a glorious past, with millennia of learning, literature, science and art, culture and tradition. Yet by the time the country became the jewel in the crown of Queen Victoria, who was proclaimed Empress of India in 1877, knowledge of the ancient Indic political tradition—the ideas and practices by which "the precolonial kingdoms of the Mughals, the Deccani Sultans, the Nayakas, the Marathas, the Rajputs, and the Sikhs" ruled the subcontinent—had been all but erased thanks to a combination of colonial rule and internal decay. When Indians were told that democracy was a gift of the West, for example, very few questioned the assumption, even though panchayats, or self-governing village bodies, had existed for thousands of years on the subcontinent.

    Most historians credit liberal ideas from Britain, absorbed by the Western-oriented Indian elite, with giving birth to modern India. (The Congress Party of Gandhi and Nehru was founded at the suggestion of A.O. Hume, a British civil servant, in 1885.) Few are aware of the extent to which nationalist leaders turned to Indic texts to revive Indians' sense of collective selfhood, and how extensively these shaped their own political practice and the country's post-independence social compact.

    The author argues that the essential concepts from which her five Indian leaders drew their ideas for self-rule were mostly indigenous. They include: dharma (the self's aspiration for ethical order); artha (practical purpose); ahimsa (non-violence); duhkha (suffering); viraha (the self's longing); and samvega (the shock of self-recognition). These concepts are distinct from but not in opposition to Western ideals such as equality, liberty and fraternity.


    Nehru's quest for national selfhood, for example, revolved around the two central ideas of dharma and artha, or ethical order and pragmatism. The first was exemplified by the inclusive reign, more than two millennia ago, of the Emperor Asoka. The second was embodied in the realpolitik pragmatism of Asoka's grandfather, the Emperor Chandragupta. Aspirational dharma inspired Nehru during the freedom struggle; after independence, he leaned toward purposeful artha.

    As Ms. Vajpeyi explains, Nehru married "these opposing vectors in his thought and practice." But his conception of these ideals wasn't merely nostalgic; both had to be reinterpreted for the 20th century. "I should like you to think that the Asokan period in Indian history was essentially an international period," Nehru told the Indian constituent assembly. "In the Asokan era," Nehru instructed, "India's ambassadors went abroad to far countries . . . as ambassadors of peace and culture and goodwill." Asoka's inclusiveness also inspired the clear-cut secularism that Nehru wanted for modern india. "It is strange that anyone should be so foolish," Nehru wrote, "as to think that religion and faith can be thrust down a person's throat at the point of the sword or a bayonet." His fortnightly missives to the chief ministers of the states of the Indian federation make evident his transition from a philosopher into a philosopher-statesman.

    When it came time to choose the newly formed Republic of India's national emblems, Nehru selected artifacts unearthed from the Asokan era to visually represent these ethical categories. The state seal of India, for example, is based on the lion capitals that topped Asokan columns and posts. The dharmacakra (wheel of law) at the center of the Indian flag likewise harks back to the Asokan era. "The author of every one of these choices, at the time of Independence, was none other Jawaharlal Nehru," says Ms. Vajpeyi. The appeal of these symbols for Nehru, the author writes, was that in both their ancient and modern incarnations, they represented not just the vastness but also the ethical imperatives of the Indian state.

    Noticeably absent from Ms. Vajpeyi's account is the Muslim contribution to the struggle for the Indian self. The author notes a lack of academic or other narrative attention to the quest of Indian Muslims for selfhood and sovereignty and acknowledges her inability to adequately address the subject in her book. India's pre-independence Muslim-Hindu rupture and the subcontinent's descent into a bloodbath at partition reveal the difficulties faced by the Indian founders in uniting a massive, disparate nation to overcome the most powerful empire at the time.

    Today the country struggles with sectarian strife as well as corruption and poverty. Ms. Vajpeyi, though, sees hope. The founders' purposes were served by the turn to the past, and she believes the country can learn from the founders' experiences. "By reflecting on the crisis that India went through less than a century ago," the author writes, "we may discover what kinds of soul searching, acts of reading, and interpretive leaps are necessary at such junctures in history."

    Ms. Koul is the author of a memoir, "The Tiger Ladies." She has just finished writing "The Kashmir Chronicles," a novel.

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    @civfanatic @LurkerBaba @pmaitra @Daredevil @nrj @Sakal Gharelu Ustad @parijataka @spikey :)taunt:) @The Messiah
     
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  3. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    India was not "founded". It has always existed.

    Perhaps a correct terminology would be the "guiding figures" of the modern political entity of India.
     
  4. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

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    ^^Maybe "India" refers to the modern Republic of India? Before British conquest, India never existed as a nation-state.
     
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  5. Das ka das

    Das ka das Tihar Jail Banned

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    Does a colony count as a nation-state? Also isn't concept of nation-state relatively new?
     
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  6. blank_quest

    blank_quest Senior Member Senior Member

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    [​IMG]

    --Ramdhari Singh "Dinkar"

    ( am unable to make sense of half of the hindi words :()
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  7. opesys

    opesys Regular Member

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    What was Christopher Columbus and Vasco Da Gama trying to find ? Was it India or Republic of.... ?

    Edit: And from where were they from, Republic of Spain and Republic of Portugal ?
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
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  8. Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Sakal Gharelu Ustad Detests Jholawalas Moderator

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    I think Ambedkar towers above the rest mentioned in the article. The only one who perhaps understood the meaning of nation state. Thanks to him and V.B. Patel, otherwise Nehru and Gandhi would have left behind much fractured state. Do not know how long will Nehru's follies haunt our generations.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
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  9. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

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    The point of the article is that the re-emergence of the Indian polity with maturity and vision is attributable almost entirely to Nehru and a few other Congress greats. There is a lot of Nehru and Gandhi family bashing on this forum, so thought this would be a good article to remind those posters that the sense of this "Indian" identity with all its historical, cultural, ethical and political significance was instilled by visionary leaders like Nehru, which India was lucky to have in 1947.

    Without Nehru and a few Congress leaders, India might have turned into a Hindu fundamentalist version of Pakistan.
     
  10. opesys

    opesys Regular Member

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    Buddhism, Jainism, tribal people existed peacefully in the Indian sub continent even before Gandhi's great grand father was born.

    What about the Jewish, Parsi and other communities that existed in India before Gandhi and Nehru ?
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  11. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

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    I don't know what you're trying to say. Could you please be a bit more specific?
     
  12. blank_quest

    blank_quest Senior Member Senior Member

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    If Nehru had to run Pakistan with some "Ideology" he would have also faulted.
    Once Sardar Patel said "... I wish to place it on the record in this House that if, during the last two or three years, most of the members of the Services had not behaved particularly and with loyalty the Union would have collapsed."
    -- Administrative Thinkers (page 39-40), by Shriram Maheshwari.

    here Services == Administrative Services,, after Independence they were working on just mere salary compared to ICS just because they had Nationalism,so it was not Nehru who ingrained Nationalism instead Nehru himself was motivated by the National ethos/vibes present in the collective conscious of people.

    Was Nehru the reason who created Nationalism by his writings when only 11% to 9% were merely literate ?
     
  13. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    The only Indian freedom fighter who drew his ideas largely from indigenous Indic philosophy was Gandhi, and even that is debatable. All other Indian freedom fighters were westernized to varying degrees, and their vision of India as a nation-state was distinctly shaped by the Western POV. I made a post on this matter recently:

     
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  14. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    తెలంగాణ
    They were from the Kingdom of Portugal and the Kingdom of Spain (more accurately, Kingdom of Castille and Aragon) and were trying to find the landmass called "India". There was no equivalent "Kingdom of India".
     
  15. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    India as a whole cannot be called a colony.

    India was part of an Empire (British Empire), and even within the Empire, it was an Empire (British Indian Empire) by its own right. So, it was an Empire within an Empire.

    Parts of the Empire were directly administered and can be called colonies, or Presidencies; while some parts were vassals, or Princely States; and the semi-controlled regions were called Agencies.
     
  16. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    Good and succinct overview. The modern Republic of India is the first state in history to directly administer such a large portion of the subcontinent through a centralized government. No other state in the past has succeeded in doing so, perhaps because all previous states were based on force and not inclusiveness, pluralism, and federalism as the Republic of India. The success of the Republic in administering India is one of its greatest achievements.
     
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  17. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    We refer to our Founding Fathers, although United States existed as 13 colonies before the American Revolution. George Washington was called the Father of His Country in his own lifetime.
     
  18. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    The concept of nation states as stated by Das Ka Das is a 18th century European construct.

    Bharat as an idea has always existed and India was just the modern version of that old idea.

    So I maintain that India was not founded, but its modern political version sure was guided by certain able hands like Babasaheb Ambedkar. Sardar patel and also Nehru in some part.



    well the difference is while the 13 colonies were themselves made by immigrants from Europe, India is not a land of immigrants.

    That is why maybe they dont have "founding fathers" in Britain or Italy or Greece.
     
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  19. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Well, that's true. But the first "immigrants" were looking for Indians. :-D
     
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  20. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    Selecting an emblem doesn't make a nation state.

    An emblem can simply a dot or a leaf on the flag and emoticon under a stamp.

    The bullshit sold these day is a fear mongering that Indian could have been a Hindu fanatic state if the like of Ambedkar and Nehru wasn't at work.

    Forefathers of modern India used best available historic artifacts to represent symbolic Indian signs, otherwise the Idea of India was just mere a reflection of prevalent Ideology amongst available material i.e. the population these forefather were part of the same, not aliens thrust upon us who invented some thing new for libertads of future to discredit the same population in large (read Hindus) but credit only few leaders.

    Either they were Indian who inherited the Indianess is never mentioned but they got western concepts is highlighted to the fullest.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
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  21. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

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    It was known as Akhand-Bharat and was there before the mughals conquered INDIA....
     
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