“So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.” –Mark Twain, from Following the Equator
India perhaps is the only country with such diverse culture and heritage. The Indian subcontinent is home to numerous civilisations, all of them having a captivating history. It’s no secret that India’s rich cultural diversity attracts tourists and archaeologists in heaps.
India has 29 states and 7 Union Territories and with a population of 1.2 Billion is the world’s most populous democracy. Each region has it’s own lifestyle and cuisine. While Gujarat boasts of having asiatic lions; the seven sisters i.e. the northeastern states are known for their art and spices and remain a largely unexplored natural beauty. Kashmir has scintillating beauty almost second to none and Kerala is famous worldwide for it’s beaches and backwaters.
India’s diversity dates back to as early as the Indus Valley civilisation and Mohenjo-Daro and the Mughal rule, we have retained a part of all these cultures which accounts for the mixed traditions, languages, life styles, cultures and societies in India. Various literature texts and scriptures are found all over the country in various scripts which are an evidence of the diverse history India has had.
India is deep-rooted in the culture of her past, the glorious past. Her culture is essentially religious and spiritualism is the breath of her nostrils. Religion is our soul and philosophy is in our blood. To put it correctly,the philosopher, Will Durrant says, “India is the Motherland of our race and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages. She was the mother of our philosophy; mother through the Arabs of much of our mathematics; through the Buddha of much of the ideas embodies in our Christianity; mother through the village community of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.”
The Indus Valley civilisation which existed approximately 5000 years ago still captures the imagination of the historians. Such a rich culture had many admirers. The country was invaded by various foreign forces who tried to destroy it’s culture but failed to do so. From the Mughals to the Ghaznis to the British everyone plundered the temples and treasures and razed the country to the ground. But as soon as they departed, everything was re-built. Greeks, Huns, Parthian and Mongols came to our country from time-to-time, but had no effect. The Arabs conquered Sindh, and the Mughals settled here. But our culture remained unaffected. India influenced these nations and was influenced by them, but her cultural basis was strong enough to endure.
Despite such a rich history, we Indians often seek for validation from others. Quora is littered with questions like what do Americans think about Indians? The question arises that why do we need validation from the Americans, British etc? Perhaps it arises from the fact that there is a sense of inferiority in a large number of Indians which makes us look towards other countries.
Owing to our inferiority, some foreigners put up some really mushy-gooey answers to become famous at the expense of our inferiority complex. Some of the classic examples are here.
During my visit to the United States on a student exchange programme to the famous Rutgers University, we were understandably assigned an Indian-American mentor by the university to stay with us throughout our stay. But much to our astonishment, the guy who happened to be born and brought up in Kerala, treated us as inferiors. Instead of helping us gel in a foreign country ,one could often hear him shouting “This is not your India and please don’t make this country like India.”
We, a bunch of 15 year olds were made to gulp down insults after insults of our country and made to study just how great America and it’s people are and that too by an Indian. This attitude is exactly why we try to seek validation from other countries. We often hear that western culture shouldn’t be brought in India because India’s culture is second to none.
“Athiti Devo Bhava” i.e. Guest is God, is something believed by almost every Indian. During the fag end of my tour, we had to give a presentation at the university followed by traditional folk dances and a couple of their activities to help the students understand India’s culture. But no amount of activities could best describe India’s culture than what happened at the end of the function. As soon as the function ended, everyone ran to have dinner , it were we the “inferior Indians” who cleaned up the entire auditorium some in Kurta Pyjamas, some in Chaniya Cholis. While the students of the university were munching on Pizzas, we were placing the chairs at their original position much to the surprise of our mentor. A bunch of 15 year olds showed him what India stands for without even uttering a word. Truly no country can be made India because only in India “Athtiti Devo Bhava” is followed in it’s truest sense.
We, the Indians, must realise that despite of what the country has gone through and going through we have no reason to feel inferior. It’s time we ask ourselves how do we feel about India? We are the fastest growing economy in the world. This might come as a surprise to many but a brief look at our past would truly help us know how great our country has been.
Between 1st and 17th centuries AD, India is estimated to have had the largest economy of the ancient world, controlling between one third and one fourth of the world’s wealth. During the Mughal period (1526–1858 AD) India experienced unprecedented prosperity in history. The gross domestic product of India in the 16th century was estimated at about 25.1% of the world economy. An estimate of India’s pre-colonial economy puts the annual revenue of Emperor Akbar’s treasury in 1600 AD at £17.5 million. The gross domestic product of Mughal India in 1600 AD was estimated at about 24.3% the world economy, the second largest in the world.
Following is a study conducted by Professor Angus Maddison, Emeritus Professor at the University of Groningen, Netherlands, and Honorary Fellow at Cambridge University, estimating India’s wealth relative to world GDP for the years 1000 AD, 1500 AD and 1700 AD.* GDP in Millions as of 1990 international dollars.
The ruthless exploitation under British colonial rule completely devastated India’s economy.
India’s population was subject to frequent famines, had one of the world’s lowest life expectancies, suffered from pervasive malnutrition and was largely illiterate. As per British economist, Angus Maddison India’s share of the world income went from 27% in 1700 AD (compared to Europe’s share of 23%) to 3% in 1950.
From just 3% in 1950 to becoming world’s fastest frowning economy in 2016, India has certainly come a long way. India’s share in the World GDP is expected to rise as high as 17% in 2017. With taxation reforms like GST to roll out soon, the Indian economy can only grow from here.
India is well poised to become the third-largest economy by as early as 2030, surpassing four developed nations Japan, Germany, Britain and France, according to projections by a US government agency. Yes ,the same developed nations we consider ourselves inferior from.
There is little doubt that India is all set to reclaim it’s lost glory which took a big hit during the rule of Mughals and the British. We must refrain from seeking validation. By seeking validation from the likes of the British, we defeat ourselves. The same United Kingdom who razed our country to the ground, the same British who killed millions of people in their quest for supremacy , the killings so brutal (Jallianwala Bagh Massacre) that the likes of ISIS and Al-Qaeda can only dream of, the same British who still kneel before the Queen and have her name in their national anthem, the same Queen which presided over mass killings across the world.
It is clear that every country has it’s own demons to fight from . The Germans from their Nazi history, Americans from Donald Trump, and by seeking validation from them we demean our country.
The truth is despite everything the country went through, India never stopped being great.
No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come. The emergence of India as a major economic power in the world happens to be one such idea. An idea which is fast turning into reality.