2017 Independence Day in India was just like any other 15th of August. There were speeches, comments, TV coverage, once in an year display of patriotism and then every switched back to what they do the best – forget the nation. Our nation is going through massive tragedies (like in any other year from past). But the hope this time is quite different from what it was earlier. There is anticipation that the kind of assertive governments we have at the center and in various states, things will change. We are not talking about minor incremental changes. India needs massive changes in healthcare, education, agriculture and law enforcement. These four areas have been neglected for way too long and we deserve the third world country tag that is often associated with India.
But wait, is this yet another writing on what is obvious? The idea of India is not a recent one. Our legitimacy does not start from 1947 only. We are a 3,000+ years old civilization. It pains a lot to see the current generation framing their opinions and biases simply based on what BJP/INC/other political parties did in past 70 years. India is much more than this. It is even more painful that the current generation simply relies on newspapers and television channels and arrive at skewed and opinionated conclusions. How do we know what India truly is?
Do you know the reasons why people of Indian origin are found in many remote places on this planet? Do you know how the rise of Islam impacted Asia and especially India? Do you know how much damage Vasco da Gama did to Kerala coast before he annexed Goa? Any idea how the Mughals were simply foreign invaders who established legitimacy in this country? What exactly did the Maurya’s, Chola’s and Maratha’s did during their time? Why did China attack us in 1960’s? What exactly happened during the Punjab militancy? How did India achieve great success in space exploration? How did India’s economic policy change drastically in 1990’s?
It is important for all of us Indians to know about what our 3,000 year old past looked like. Many of the challenges we see today can be logically explained once we understand the past. The importance of staying as a nation is reinforced once we know the price this country paid for not standing united while fighting against the invading Turks, Mongols, Persians, Portuguese, English, French and many others.
Books. The answer lies in books. There are thousands of well written books on our history. Biographies, auto biographies and books based on other literature. All you need to do is start somewhere. Of course, many of these books are heavily influenced by the author’s perspective of events, but it is definitely worth our time to still read them. Below are some of the books I personally found very interesting:
- India after Gandhi by Ramchandra Guha
- My experiments with truth by Mahatma Gandhi
- The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857 is a 2006 historical book by William Dalrymple
- The Ocean Of Churn by Sanjeev Sanyal
- Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal
- Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
- Who moved by interest rate by DV Subbarao
- Not Just an Accountant: The Diary of the Nation’s Conscience Keeper by Vinod Rai
- One life is not enough by Natwar Singh
- To the brink and bank by Jairam Ramesh
- Identity and Survival by Kirpal Dhillon
- Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru
And let me repeat again – you may not agree with some of the views expressed in such books as they go against what our education system, society, politicians and media have been feeding us all along. But that again is the beauty of democracy – you have access to multiple views and you have the right to form your own opinion.
Go on, pick a book Buy it new. Buy it used. Rent it. Borrow it. Your time will be well spent and you will have a fresh perspective towards the very nation in which you are born.