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India is proud of its ancient spiritual heritage of ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ (universal family). From centuries, India not only welcomed people of all faith, culture and colour but also accepted them as our own with all their diversity. We were proud of our spiritual tradition of ‘ Ekam sad vipra bahudha vandanti’ (truth is one, sages call it differently).  Our national heritage of pluralism is a unique gift God has given to India.  Despite having numerous languages, customs, celebrations, food habits, dress and religions people had a ‘we feeling’ among themselves.

For centuries, Indians were not only proud of this unity in diversity but nurtured it as a sacred national heritage. Hence, our fathers who made the constitution gave strong expression to this emotion in the preamble of the Indian Constitution. It starts with a solemn declaration to the world, “We, the people of India …”. The Constitution we have made not only envisages but also commands to preserve this large country as an inclusive family despite all diversity.

This ‘We feeling” is taught from our childhood when we used to take the pledge every day in the school assembly, “India is my country. All Indians are my brothers and sisters.…..”.  In our school days, our teachers also taught us to nurture this ‘we feeling …”

We were taught to shout slogans in the school, "Bharat Mata ki jai”. Bharat Matha is a symbolic expression of all people of India.  Mother India can be glorified only when every person in India is able to enjoy the universal values enshrined in the constitution: liberty, equality, justice, fraternity and ensuring the dignity of all people of India.

Mahatma Gandhi gave a practical test of ensuring the dignity of every individual, justice, equality, liberty and fraternity to the ‘LAST MAN’ in the society. Even after 73 years of Independence, we have not succeeded in ensuring these values to the last and the least of this country. Why didn’t those who governed this country take care of the dignity, freedom and justice to the millions of daily workers who were forced to walk several kilometers to reach their homes? When the government could arrange special flights to bring students who were stuck in foreign countries, why didn’t they have the sensitivity to arrange transport facility to send back several thousands of migrant workers who were stranded in different cities to their homes?  Where do we ensure the individual dignity and equality to create ‘we feeling’ among the last and the least of our country? When 400 million people are struggling for one meal a day and 2.5 million people die of hunger every year in India how can we shout the slogan ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’?

The strength and glory of Bharat Mata is in ensuring justice, equality, liberty and dignity to all people of India, not in expanding the military power by providing business to weapon companies of America and France. What  glory   Bharat Matha can have by making India  the  3rd biggest military spender after the US and China when more than 35 per cent of her people live below the poverty line without food, shelter and regular employment?  When more than four lakh Indians die of Tuberculosis every year what is there to be proud of India being a military power?  We are a nation with priorities on the reverse. Yet we take pride in shouting ‘ Bharat Mata ki Jai’? Anyone who dares to criticise the misdeeds and wrong policies of the government using the fundamental right of freedom of speech could be accused of being anti – national.  

The spiritual integrity of a person or society can be tested in times of tragedy and crisis.   How will the children believe in the pledge we make them take , “ India is my country, All Indians are my brothers and sisters ” when they see their own parents, teachers and those who are in responsible positions propagate hatred and communal prejudice against people of other faith and region? What kind of ‘we feeling' do we create when state governments try to seal themselves off from the neighbouring states  by building walls and dig trenches to stop the entry of people  from other states? Isn’t it a violation of the spirit of the Constitution which declares, “We the people of India”?

Why don’t we learn from France and Germany   who ended the hostility of 3 decades to initiate the borderless European Union and East Germany and West Germany who pulled down the 40-year-old Berlin wall to make one united Germany?  Haven’t we read about Germany opened its borders to welcome one million refugees and provided all facilities without bothering about their religion in recent years?  How can the states of the same country be so inhuman and insensitive to block the patients from benefiting the medical service form the hospitals from the neighbouring states by raising walls and digging trenches to guard their borders? This virus of exclusiveness and selfishness is more deadly than Covid 19.  Why don’t the powerful central government and its law enforcing agencies prevent this virus of division and inhumanity when the whole country is hit by pandemic Covid 19?

When people elect   leaders with narrow vision and ignorant of the universal values enshrined in the Constitution of India we can expect this kind of inhuman actions. When the leaders do not accept the ancient spiritual heritage of India, ‘ vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ (universal family) they will build walls and trenches to exclude their own brothers and sisters of the same Mother India. Yet they would shout “Bharat Mata ki jay”.   This is mere hypocritical nationalism only to insult Bharat Matha. They are committing a serious crime against the very soul of Indian Constitution.   They neither believe in the vision of the Constitution “we the people of India….” nor the spirituality of the sacred scripture, ‘ vasudhaiva kutumbakam’.  

(Published on 04th May 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 19)