Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now that time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially.
“At the stroke of today’s midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.“
“Tryst with Destiny” was a speech delivered by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, to the Indian Constituent Assembly in The Parliament, on the eve of India’s Independence, towards midnight on 15 August 1947. The same ground, the same geography, but a changed history. The “idea” of India had lived, albeit a bit fragmented. The world saw two new histories in the making : the birth of India and Pakistan.
This was the same place where Hindus and Muslims united fought with the foreign power for the idea of India, a nation knitted in the fabric of secularism, drawing inspirations from the world revolutions against the tuck of an alien power – the wounds of imperialism. The above example clearly showcases the topic of this write-up. While Geography remained the same, the history of slavery, the history of suppression, the historical idea of “one nation”, the clutches of exotic power changed.
We have evolved – the human species, the animal and plant kingdom has evolved with time. The earth was the same, but the species kept changing. While inherited initially by organisms as small as amoeba, the earth evolved in diversity, division, genes, species, organisms, and even as big a division as us humans. Apes ate the food from the nature, they evolved and eventually the new “homo sapiens” started having the same food the apes used to have, only that the way changed. Only that now we started having cooked food, that history of eating habits changed.
Caves from the upper paleolithic times tell us stories about the different tribes that may have lived there, the likes of Lakhudiyar and Bhimbetka which possessed images of stick like figures resembling humans changed into figures becoming more humanly, only with the change of time. History kept on changing, but the caves remained the same. The fact is propounded more by superimposition of the images that caves illustrate.
History within a geography changes in various aspect : be it cultural change in history, economic history, political, social or as far and wide as changes in the way people behaved with the women in a place.
It’s really hard to believe that America : the self proclaimed and widely acclaimed superpower of the changed world order after the disintegration of the USSR, was once fighting for it’s own history : the history which eventually made it change from a subordinate slave producing power house of Britain to one of the first democratic and industralized nations of the changing world history. It is hard to believe that once relying solely on Britain for it’s foreign export has turned out to be the biggest economic super power in the world : being inspiration to the other economies including India.
While India (or Aryavrata as it was called back then) changed from a very highly modernized, clean and an inspiration for today’s “smart cities” mission : The Indus Valley civilisation – from a Pashupati worshipping hindu dominating civilisation, to a highly peace loving and non violent religion like Jainism and Buddhism spreading in Mauryan and Gupta period. This eventually saw changing into an Islam dominated “Hindustan” by Minaj-I-Siraj or even “Hind” which Amir Khusrao, the great scholar from Akbar’s court once called the subcontinent. Not only that, but thanks to the coming of the Britishers from the European continent and the highly criticized Charter Act of 1813 also saw the coming of Christian missionaries which led to conversion of masses of the Hindus and Muslims into Christianity.
Is it the only change that history witnessed, in the same geographical location? Surely not. History also saw a change where a women who was respected as a deity in the early Mohenjodaro along with Pashupati, to a changed scenario in the later Vedic times where eventually women joined the lower strata of the society. It changed from highly acclaimed scholars representing womanhood from the likes of Gargi Meitri and Lopamudra in early Vedic times to a time where women were not even allowed to participate in public meetings. Not only that, but the considered “liberal” religions like Jainism and Buddhism also saw a subordinate status of women, who were not allowed to leave home or join viharas without the consent of their husband. This has changed to times when Raziya was allowed to take the throne to govern to as far as joining the national struggle for freedom, joining cabinets and being active in present day political scenario.
Social condition of the people has seen an upside down change since time immemorial. The countries and it’s people have evolved from the how they were back when feudalism prevailed, which eventually changed to capitalists and socialist classes. Land was divided, but unlike the older times, where it was held by the monarchs, it now became a private property. Now those who could afford were the ones who owned it. But was this change enough?
Karl Marx and his classless society theory eventually provoked the thought of a communist class owned and controlled by the state and zero difference between the different strata of the society. The condition of the people changed from lowest strata with negligible income group and sole tax payers(feudalism), to a “little” wage earner living in filth and misery still, and eventually to a state controlling the heavy industries and equal income distribution in order to minimize the class divide, the idea initially adopted by most countries after their independence. Clearly, the history has seen changes in the way people lived in the society, in the same geographical location, from feudalism to a mixed economy.
Mahatma Gandhi made similar efforts in bringing together different sections of society. He played a pivotal role in imbibing the people with the spirit of mutual respect and the abolition of untouchability.
The changes in the education system through the waves of history is quite evident too. What we read from the Ramayana and Mahabharata about how Kshatriyas used to go to the Gurus for learning the tactics of an ethical fight to defend the empire, to win over the fallacy is no more the norm. Today, bright students in this country have been nurtured in elite Indian institutions like IIT/IIM’s and have gone on to serve modern day scientific, astrophysics setup and as far as serving the nation’s political system. The change eventually serves and enriches the same geography with entirely different history.
With internal history of the nation and the world , the harmony in and among nations, different type of evolution as far as women rights are concerned, education, economics, politics etc could be changed by a mutual respect, consent on wordly issues. Attitudinal change is a pre-requisite of the evolution of the history in a way that would remembered by the upcoming generation in a better way.