Like how Gandhi prevailed over Churchill in proving him wrong, Chandrashekhar Rao stands as the David against the 56-inch chest Goliath, to bring back the very essence of India
A nation is an idea. It exists as long as the idea is believed, cherished, and protected by the many residing in that nation. The idea of modern India was thoughtfully and deliberately created, forged, and then protected over the last 75 years against all odds. Many pundits of that time predicted that it would soon disintegrate. Winston Churchill predicted that post-Independence India would fall back into Middle Ages, calling India not a country but “merely a geographical expression”. He said, “It is no more a single country than the Equator.”
It is a miracle that such a vast diversity of religions, regions, languages and ethnicities could all come together to believe in this idea of India, preserved it, and held onto it. On second thoughts, probably it was not a miracle, but the product of the hard work of our founding fathers and the initial set of political leaders, who worked to prove the pundits wrong.
Whereas Pakistan defined itself solely on the basis of religion and continued to hold the power in the hands of feudal lords, India defined itself quite differently, and made itself a home to all religions – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Parsees, four of these religions originating in this land, became a welfare State, breaking down the feudal system through land reforms, creating equal laws for women and preferential treatment of the lower castes. These are essential attributes of what make India, a multicultural, pluralistic society, where no single identity can impose itself onto others.
India’s diversity became its inherent strength. Holding the diversity together taught us our essential mantra, of ‘Live and let live’, which brought onto us a set of political compromises that became essential to make India a ‘home to all’ while fighting every effort to impose conformance. For example, when Hindi was being imposed onto everyone, English became the official language to hold India together. India is indeed the greatest idea in modern political history, and we made it a reality. And yet, today, all that is changing.
Losing our essence
Somewhere along the way, we lost our essence. We gave way to conformist ideology, ‘you should eat what we eat, you should dress up the way we dress up, you should speak like we do’, allowed the majoritarian tyranny, ‘you have to agree because we are a majority, we can impose laws onto you because we have the numbers’, to exclusivist ideology of ‘us vs them’.
In fact, India now is at a dangerous precipice. A poison that has been trying to work its way in for over a hundred years now, as a set of exclusivist, majoritarian, conformist, and fascist ideology called Hindutva, has now taken over the powers, and the idea of India itself being challenged and changed.
Based on imaginary fear that ‘Hindu Khatre Mein Hain’ while positing Muslims, Christians and Communists (read Urban Naxals) as internal enemies, Hindutva challenges the very idea of India, corrodes its foundations, and is about to destroy the carefully constructed edifice. The grand experiment called India that proved all the outside detractors wrong may succumb to the poison that comes from within.
If we need to save India, we need to reestablish the idea called India. It is time to go back to our fundamentals, of what we envisioned for India originally, and bring back the true essence. What India needs is once again leaders like our founding fathers.
Starting in 2001, K Chandrashekhar Rao carried out his Telangana Movement for 14 years in a peaceful, non-violent manner, just like Gandhi. It was a grassroots movement that included all political affiliations, carefully crafting the identity for the new Telangana State. After the State formation, he embraced all people, even the erstwhile ideological adversaries into the fold, calling everyone a Telangana Bidda (son/daughter of the soil), irrespective of the region of origin or religion or language. With Kalyana Lakshmi for Hindu brides and Shaadi Mubarak for Muslim brides, he ensures that no religion gets alienated.
He then went on to build some of the world’s greatest institutions in social engineering. Putting the hardhat of an engineer, he turned an improbable idea into reality with the Kaleshwaram project, rejuvenated thousands of lakes through Mission Kakatiya, and brought tap water to 100% homes through Mission Bhagiratha, the kind of engineering and institution building that we saw during the times of Nehru.
Telangana grew in GDP by more than 2.28 times in the last 8 years, its per capita more than doubling, its agriculture produce increased by more than 5 times to become the second largest paddy contributor to the FCI. With Rythu Bandhu for the farmers, and Dalit Bandhu for Dalits, pensions for the aged, his social engineering tools have brought in the much-needed socio-economic transformation like never before, the tools as effective as the ones devised by Ambedkar for this country.
Chandrashekhar Rao stands out to be Ambedkar, Patel, Nehru and Gandhi, all rolled into one, personification of the antidote to the poison of Hindutva to bring back the ideals that created this nation. What India needs is someone to relook at the original drawings of India, reengineer the foundations, and build back the crumbling blocks, like how KCR built the Kaleshwaram project against all odds.
Churchill was considered a strong man, a powerful man, man of stature and size, and yet it was up to a puny man, a ‘half-naked fakir’, walking with a stick, who proved Churchill wrong. India did not disintegrate as Churchill thought, nor was it lost in ‘political squabbles’.
Like how Gandhi prevailed over Churchill in proving him wrong, Chandrashekhar Rao stands as the David against the 56-inch chest Goliath, to bring back the very essence of India, restore its fundamentals, take the diversity along with him without imposing conformance, and make India once again a truly pluralistic, multicultural, welfare society, a ‘home for all’, where ‘live and let live’ is once again the core mantra.