From Bharat to India

Context: Article describes the views of Prof Oommen and Dr BR Ambedkar in constructing a Bharat.

Prof Oommen is a eminent sociologist and former president of the International Sociological Association.

What are the views of Prof Oommen?

Principal challenges to the evolution of a nation lie in minimising disparity, eradicating discrimination, and avoiding alienation. He has listed nine categories of socially and/or politically and/or excluded groups in our society: “Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs, cultural minorities — both religious and linguistic, women, refugees-foreigners-outsiders, people [of] Northeast India, the poor and the disabled”.

Sources of exclusion in India: He has suggested that “the three sources of exclusion in India — stratification, heterogeneity and hierarchy — create intersectionality.” This insecurity manifests itself in genocide, culturocide and ecocide and in its absence, a society may be conceptualised as secure.

The Indian polity, has the most elaborate set of identities based on class, religion, gender, caste, region, language and their intersectionalities as well as consequent permutations and combinations. To ignore this complex social set up and speak in terms of ‘multiple identities’ is not only simplistic but also misleading. And, given the long history of India and its shifting frontiers, it is not easy even to identify the identity markers of Indian citizens and demarcate the numerous identity groups in India.

Given the diversity and complexity of India, the only constitutionally valid common denominator is citizenship. This is the point at which fraternity can and should be practiced among equals. Only through the conflation of state and nation can our Republic be considered a nation. Cultural monoism and secularism are insufficient.

On Article 351 of the Constitution on the national language. Hindi is to be enriched by ‘Hindustani’ along with other languages in the Eighth Schedule; yet the latter does not figure in the list of the Eighth Schedule. He suggests that “India shall be a multicultural nation and not a nation-state having many identities and that eventually the preferable solution would lie in a confederation – USSA (United States of South Asia).”

What is necessary for the continuance of democracy?

B.R. Ambedkar gave three warnings to ensure continuance of democracy “not merely in form but also in fact.” These were

constitutional procedures

avoidance of hero worship, and

social democracy instead of mere political democracy. Political democracy necessitates equality and fraternity.

Source: This post is based on the article “From Bharat to India” published in The Hindu on 12th May 22.

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