Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Kittu Reddy’s book A Vision of United India is a must-read

A Vision of United India: A Review
By Anurag Banerjee

On 15 August 1947 Sri Aurobindo had given a message to commemorate the independence of India in which he had spoken of his five dreams. What follows is a significant passage from his message:
“But the old communal division into Hindus and Muslims seems now to have hardened into a permanent political division of the country. It is to be hoped that this settled fact will not be accepted as settled for ever or as anything more than a temporary expedient. For if it lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. India’s internal development and prosperity may be impeded, her position among the nations weakened, her destiny impaired or even frustrated. This must not be; the partition must go. Let us hope that that may come about naturally, by an increasing recognition of the necessity not only of peace and concord but of common action, by the practice of common action and the creation of means for that purpose. In this way unity may finally come about under whatever form—the exact form may have a pragmatic but not a fundamental importance. But by whatever means, in whatever way, the division must go; unity must and will be achieved, for it is necessary for the greatness of India’s future.”

In his message Sri Aurobindo had spoken of his grand vision—the vision of a unified India which means India and Pakistan would exist as one single nation. This vision is echoed in Prof. Kittu Reddy’s book A Vision of United India: Problems and Solutions. Prof. Reddy is an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram since 1941. An intellectual par excellence and scholar of the highest rank, he combines in himself the qualities of a teacher and a motivator. He has been associated with the Indian Army since 1987 and has conducted workshops dealing with motivation, leadership and Indian nation with them. Those who know him closely would never fail to notice that he is one of those rare beings who have combined the paths of Jnana Yoga and Karma Yoga which has, in turn, led to his progress as a sadhak of the Integral Yoga. Therefore when he writes, words that flow down from his pen finds its source in the higher levels of consciousness which explains the root of his profound insight.
A Vision of United India is divided into two sections: Problems and Solutions. In the first part of the first section, Prof. Reddy has discussed the political history of ancient and medieval India and also evaluated the success and failure to establish a sound political unity in the country. He has spoken of the cultural and spiritual unity that prevailed in ancient India but rightly remarks that those could never be ‘a sufficient basis for a vigorous national life’; in order to achieve so, a political unification was required. However this unification was never achieved. According to his observation: ‘But each time an attempt to find such a solution was made, a solution that might securely have evolved and found its true means and form and basis, it did not last. The difficulties were great, the conditions were not ripe, and there was instead at attempt to establish a single administrative empire.’ (p. 18) And he remarks: ‘One might even say that the guardians of India’s destiny wisely compelled it to fail so that her inner spirit might not perish and her soul barter for an engine of temporary security, the deep sources of its life.’ (Ibid.) He goes on to explain the advent of the Sultanates and Islamic thought discussing the traits of the Muslim Rule followed by a brief history of Islam and the fundamental concepts of Hinduism accompanied by its tenets and consequences. After discussing the consequences of Islamic invasion of India he gives an overview of India under the British Rule till 1947.

The second half of the first section comprises of a significant and meticulous discussion and evaluation of the political scenario of India from the post-partition era to the present age where the author speaks of the Kashmir problem and the other troubles India had to face from Pakistan. A detailed discussion of the Bangladesh War is followed by a write-up on the Military Rule in Pakistan which contains an informative analysis of the working of the dictators who ruled Pakistan as Presidents. In the chapter The Present Situation of Pakistan, the author makes a serious observation (p. 201): ‘A sinking Pakistan will insist on sinking India too.’ And he explains that this might happen since ‘proxy-war’ is a very cost-effective strategy for Pakistan as it consumes a small portion of its defence expenditure whereas it inflicts an excessively high cost on India. However, he says that in this process Pakistan would ultimately disintegrate from within.
The second section of the book (Solutions) puts forward the reasons leading to the prospective eradication of the division between India and Pakistan which is based on Prof. Reddy’s detailed study of Political Science under the light of Sri Aurobindo. After analyzing the obstructions to unite India and Pakistan, he has focused on the points that may help in establishing the unity between the two countries. He cites the instances of the unification of Germany and Vietnam and adds that the unification of India and Pakistan can be an attainable reality. This section is particularly important as it include thought-provoking chapters like Factors Leading to Unity in the Subcontinent and The Hindu-Muslim Unity where he speaks of the various measures that should be adopted by the Government of India to materialize the unification of India and Pakistan. He suggests that the partition should not be accepted as final by the Indian Government and a policy decision needs to be taken for the annulment of the partition. He states the following steps (p. 263):
· ‘Increase people to people contact in a big way in every field of activity…
· Increase economic cooperation between the two governments if possible and between the people of the two nations even if the Government of Pakistan does not cooperate…
· Take the strongest steps to curb terrorism in any form; give the Army a free hand in their operations against the terrorists. Ensure that political interference is completely stopped.
· Take steps to create a climate of understanding and goodwill between all the religions within India itself. This is an important factor and needs to be pursued vigorously.’

At the same time he proposes certain steps to be taken towards Pakistan which are as follows:
· Weakening the military of Pakistan by supporting democracy in the country. Prof. Reddy adds that one can envisage the unification of the armies of the two nations at a later stage.
· Developing and nurturing the constituencies in Pakistan whose livelihood and prosperity depends on good relations with India for the purpose of developing trade relations.
· Enable the secular minded people of Pakistan to come closer to India thus enabling the exchange of educational and cultural activities.
· Strengthening India’s relation with the United States, Russia and China as Islamic fundamentalism can be a threat to the stability of their society as well.

To bring about the much-desired unity among the Hindus and the Muslims, Prof. Reddy suggests that the cultural leaders of both Hinduism and Islam will have to bring forward ‘the deeper Indian ethos’ that is ‘intrinsically tolerant of all religions.’ In his own words (p. 313): ‘This ethos will give all minorities their civic dues but will not keep pampering them out of fear of losing their votes. And it will insist on a common civil code as indispensable to a genuine secularism, a code for all communities which will override whenever necessary in the interests of the whole country, the code peculiar to each community. That ethos will also do away with the current custom of special reservation of seats in the parliament on a communal or else caste basis. No communities or castes should be recognized. All citizens will be Indians and they will be members of parliament by popular election according to their merit. Equal opportunities will be given to all elements of the nation to progress and share in the guidance of the country.’ Another suggestion Prof. Reddy makes is that it is essential to re-interpret Islam and all other religions ‘in their true historical perspective.’ These steps could prepare the platform for promotion from Religion to Spirituality as it is the only way of overcoming the religious division.
This book is also significant as it includes certain illuminating passages from Sri Aurobindo’s writings where Sri Aurobindo has discussed the various means by which the much-desired Hindu-Muslim unity can be achieved. These passages are particularly important as it reveals how much concerned Sri Aurobindo was to bring about the said unity. In the much-publicized biography of Sri Aurobindo (The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs), Sri Aurobindo has been accused of being responsible for the disunity among Hindus and Muslims and partition of India as well and there are many who believes in this aforesaid nonsense. This masterpiece from the pen of Prof. Reddy would certainly shut the mouths of those who propagate against Sri Aurobindo of being a Hindu fundamentalist.
Prof. Reddy is a visionary who dreams of the unification of India and Pakistan and in this monumental work of his, he has explicitly discussed how the vision could be materialized. This book serves as a guideline which shows us the ways to be taken to eradicate a historical blunder called ‘Partition’ whose decision was taken by a handful of men (who were hailed as leaders) and its consequences were suffered by millions. It also led to the creation of an environment of non-stop tension between the two nations which still prevails in a glorified form. This book is special because it comes from the pen of a spiritual person with an astounding political consciousness. This book is a must-read for all those who love India truly.

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