…The core of our tradition was the spiritual quest; the core of this spiritual quest was Hindu; the way in which this core manifested itself in the life (of) our people was the religious. To the western Educated Indian the spiritual was just mumbo-jumbo, religion was just opium to entrap the masses, and Hinduism just a pariticularly pernicious form of that opium. That which was the very essence of our nationhood was thereby denounced. The character our politics took compounded the evil.
When examined closely enough every aggregate disaggregates – even the atom disaggregates, as do the components into which it disaggregates. A society, a country is an aggregate too: it consists of groups that have both – features that are common to them and features which differentiate the one from the other; constituents of each group in turn consist of smaller sub-groups each of which in turn again has the same dual sets of characteristics.
A Gandhi focuses on that which is common to them, where he sees distance between groups he builds bridges to span them. On the other hand a Jinnah insists that because there are differences, the groups just cannot live together, and he bases his politics on this premise or calculation. A Nehru tries to turn all the groups to values and pursuits – “our new temples, the Bhakra Nangals” – which vault over the differences. On the other hand, a Ramaswami Naicker, a Lohia, a V.P. Singh, a Mulayam Singh, a Shahabuddin sees an opportunity in these differences: he focusses on them, he exaggerates them, he enflames in the group he sets out to bamboozle into following him the feeling of having been wronged, of being in peril unless it “preserves its identity” vis a vis the engulfing ocean.
In one type of politics the whole is the foucs, in the other the parts are – to the point that the “reality”, the very existence of the whole is denied, the very notion that it exists is denouced as a device which has been fabricated to crush the parts one by one. Our politics since Jinnah’s time, and even more so since the passing of Panditji has been of the latter kind.
In a word, that which was the essence of our nationhood has come to be denied and denounced already, since then the refrain has been that the parts – of castes, of religious and linguistic groups, of this class and that – alone are “real”.
Is it any wonder then that we do not see ourselves as one nation, that the nonsense of the “theoreticians” of Khalistanis one day, of the JKLF the next sets us to doubt our right to continue as one country?
–Arun Shourie, “A Secular Agenda”