Democracies of Unfreedom: The United States and India

By Brij Mohan | Go to book overview

7
Toward the United States
of India

To understand the specifically Indian reality within the familiar democratic forms the outsider must study not only the institutions of government and politics but the society in which they have become embedded, paying particular attention to the various patterns of dominance and dependence within it and the ideas and beliefs which are its rationale. These three strands--institutions, ideas, and society--have run through our study of India, and together they begin to explain the roots of this democratic phenomenon in Asia, and both its remarkable durability yet its limited capacity to engineer change.

Judith Brown ( 1986: 377-378)

Unification of ethnicities, identities, and nationalities has always been problematic but, nonetheless, important for the construction of what became the modern Indian state. Preindependence India was a colonized region of diverse, often feuding, nationalities united and divided by common interests and conflict of an ethnic, regional, and feudal nature. Emperors Ashoka and Akabar sowed the seeds of a loosely organized federation, which the British Empire consolidated for colonial purposes. Based on the diabolical premises of a "two-nation" theory, postindependence India became a graveyard for Gandhi's dream: a nation born. of unresolved communal strife; a harvest of poisoned seed. This is not an entirely unique phenomenon among those who have forged modern states. Mazzini united Italy but he, too, was ultimately left disillusioned:

Nobody can understand how wretched I feel at seeing corruption, skepticism about the advantages of unity, financial ruin . . . and moral anarchy increasing from year to year under a materialist immoral government, all the future of Italy disappearing, all the ideal of Italy, the inspiring dream of my whole life and the soul of all my

-101-

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