India has never been one country, administratively speaking. History tells that we have had many periods of integration and disintegration from BC through AD. We had Maharajahs, Rajahs, and Rajwadas (Rajahs of few villages or a city). The only thing which joins this continent as India is an Invisible Boundary etched in our minds through convention.
An argument is, Hinduism in its various forms and aspects has been the sole integrator in this confusingly and multi layered society. I say, then in that case, India and Nepal should be one country. Hinduism does provides a common identity but does not make a common nation. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam – we have always lapsed into a divided pocket of administrative zones.
But what makes India as one nation. It is strong leadership which erupted from time to time as our rulers. They were successful leaders, who understood our social fragmentation on top and were perceptive enough to see the underlying unity. They were capable as they capitalized on our culture to attain power and also enriched it.
The earliest of all Indian History tells us about the rule of the Mauryas. More so, the period is defined by the Great Ashoka. But more than Ashoka, it was Chanak who first realised the scope for integration of this sub-continent. He encapsulated all areas which could be militarily defended. Chanak was the documented first who demonstrated that for all developments which advances the quality of life (Finance, Economics, Religious, Cultural, Educational, Sexual) needs a strong and long surviving leadership. The Mauryan’s were the pioneers in defining the boundary which we call India.
After the Mauryan’s and through pockets of dark ages, the prominent rulers of India were the Guptas’, Lodhis’, Khiljis’ and finally the Mughals, the British and then we. Besides us, there is one defining characteristics in all of them. Whosoever sat on the throne, his first act was to bring the maximum India as a single administrative entity. And they achieved this through war or diplomacy.
Cut to the present scenario. The present Indian dynamics tends towards fragmentation. Do we need to be a traveller to understand this? Is it not enough to know which parts of India we cannot go without some fear? Is it not the present political thrusts indicate our future. What are the safeguards to reign in those breaking-forces and stop its proliferation to still nascent areas and create noise?
A strong leadership is needed to quell this noise. When the leadership becomes weak, there will be people who will turn opportunist. Strength of leadership can be imagined as a great ball of Energy. If the top cannot harness it, the energy will flow away and someone else will harness it. And everybody is not a visionary.
Finally, the great doubt is – Can our Democracy provide strong leadership? Will we ever elect an empowered leader and not a nice or populist leader.