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Disunity is in our blood Major General Mrinal Suman While studying Indian history in school days, one was

repeatedly told that the B ritish resorted to divide and rule policy to gain control over India. The tone and tenor of such a description painted the British as unscrupulous schemers who ex ploited the simple, trusting and gullible Indians. As a young student one accept ed the above statement at its face value without any questions and grew up in th e belief that we Indians are a highly united lot and our subjugation was due to devious tricks and policies of the British. At a later stage, one started wondering why Indians let themselves be divided by outsiders and why they could not foresee the result of their disunity. Sadly, t he truth is that our approach, attitude and practices have always been directed towards remaining disunited. Caste system divided the society in distinct segmen ts. Presence of multiple religions, sects and sub-sects in the sub-continent pre vented social cohesion. The much touted Swayamwar (selection of spouse by a pri ncess in an open forum) is indicative of this deficiency and our total disregard for forging unity. Whereas matrimony amongst the royals in the Europe has alway s been an instrument of forging strategic alliances, Swayamwar invariably create d more enemies than friends. All rejected princes and kings felt insulted, nurse d a grudge and waited for an opportunity to take revenge to redeem their self-es teem. History bears testimony to the fact that every Swayamwar was followed by a crimony and internecine wars. Reverting back to the role of the British, they never divided us to rule. They d id not need to do so. We have always been and continue to be a divided lot. Form ation of states on linguistic basis was never attempted by the British. Mandal C ommission was not constituted or implemented by them. Nor was the Babri Masjid d emolished by the British. The current agitation in Maharashtra has not been init iated by the East India Company. Caste based reservations and quota system, the prime splitter of the Indian body politic, were not invented by the erstwhile ru lers. Nor are they preventing us from enacting a uniform civil code. The list is endless. We have a knack and penchant for generating innovative issues to divid e ourselves. We are doing our best to ensure that we remain embroiled in petty b ickering and internal dissentions. To us, our region, religion, caste and sub-ca ste are more important. Worse, we flaunt this narrow identity and give it preced ence over nationalism. If after 60 years of independence, Kashmir and the North East are still not emotionally integrated with the country, the failure is ours. Undoubtedly, the politicians are the fountainhead of all fissiparous tendencies. One does not have to be a visionary to predict the danger of abetting illegal m igration from Bangladesh for garnering votes. North Indians in Mumbai are not we lcome but illegal Bangladeshis can stay. If political leaders can imperil nation al security for the sake of power, they can stoop to any level. Sadly, they cann ot be expected to change as they believe in the ends and not the means employed. To them, vote bank politics preclude letting countrymen stay united. Additional ly, spineless and politicized bureaucracy simply follows their dictates and cann ot be expected to deliver either. Immense damage is also being inflicted on the unity of the country by the media through its irresponsible and thoughtless reporting. For the sake of cheap sensa tional news, petty vandals are given the coverage befitting a mass leader. Every a dalit girl molest news item is reported with a religious, caste or creed slant ed in a Delhi bus (as if other women are not molested in Delhi buses) or church gu ard killed (in reality an argument between two security guards had turned violent ) or muslim driver runs over a boy (his being a muslim is of no relevance). It is obnoxious to see articles spelling out proportions of different castes in a cons tituency and predicting victory of the candidate from the majority caste, thus p romoting caste based politics. The Way Ahead If India continues to exist as a nation, credit is due to three institutions the armed forces, the higher judiciary and the Election Commission. They are also t he only hope.

As regards the armed forces, the nation owes its security, both external and int ernal, to its apolitical nature and nationalism. It is a symbol of national inte gration and a repository of best human values. It is an island of discipline and orderly behaviour in a sea of chaos and anarchy. A foreign observer wondered wh ether India deserved such a fine organisation. Unfortunately, concerted efforts are being made to demean and demoralize this shield between cohesion and disinte gration. If an Indian citizen still respects law and believes in its fairness, the credit is entirely due to the independence and pro-activity displayed by the higher ju diciary. Having been let down by the Parliament and the executive, people look a t the judiciary as their sole hope. Therefore, it must step forward to shoulder additional responsibility, opinion of conservative constitutional experts not wi thstanding. First, anyone promoting hatred between communities or undertaking di visive actions should be punished for anti-national activities or even treason/s edition, as internal dissentions are the start point of all civil strife. Second ly, cost of all damages caused to public and private property must be recovered from the leaders of the vandalizing mobs with deterrent imprisonments. In case o f fatalities, they should be charged with murder. Thirdly, any government found abetting disorder, both through overt support or tacit inaction, should not be a llowed to stay in power. Fourthly, a blanket ban should be put on all religious processions and use of loudspeakers in religious places. In a secular country wh ere religion is a highly emotive issue, it is best to shift all religious activi ties from public domain to private domain. The Election Commission can play an extremely important role with its constituti onal powers. Any party that does not swear by the integrity of the country and e quality of all citizens should be banned. Similarly, any party that promotes hat red amongst various segments of Indian society on any grounds whatsoever must be proscribed. Even religion-based parties which disallow followers of other relig ions as its members should have no place in a secular country. It is the duty of the Election Commission to ensure that political parties are not allowed to pla y vote bank politics at the cost of national cohesion. All defaulting parties an d their leaders must be handed out exemplary punishment, debarred from standing in elections and their political careers sealed. The British controlled the whole of Indian peninsula with a maximum of 60,000 tr oops. Today every state has a police force of more than that strength and yet di visive forces are rampant. If India has to survive and prosper as a united natio n, it is time corrective action is taken. Let us not force the next generation t o rewrite the history books to say that India can remain united only when subjug ated by a foreign power or that an independent India is always a divided India.