Indian civilisation is perhaps the most ancient and continuing civilisation of the world. India has a long history and has been recognised by others as a land of great wealth and even greater wisdom. But India has also experienced continued foreign attacks and alien rule for centuries and this has resulted in a loss of pride in India and its remarkable achievements. Indians, particularly educated under the system of education imposed by the Britishers, have lost sight of not only the cultural and civilisational greatness of India, but also of its technological achievements and abounding natural resources.
History tells us that India was a land of abundance. The country has been blessed with great natural fertility, abundant water and unlimited sunshine. According to foreigners visiting this country, Indians were regarded as the best agriculturists in the world. Records of these travels from the 4th century BC till early 19th century speak volumes about our agricultural abundance which dazzled the world. The Thanjaur (900-1200 AD) inscriptions and Ramnathapuram (1325 AD) inscriptions record 15 to 20 tonnes per hectare production of paddy. Now, even after the first Green Revolution, according to Government statistics, Ludhiana in the late-20th century recorded a production of 5.5 tonnes of paddy per hectare. It is, therefore, imperative that India rediscovers an agricultural technology which incorporates all the inputs from our own wisdom and agricultural skills that made us a land of abundance in food.
Indian economy was as flourishing as its agriculture. Foreigners from Magasthenes to Fa-Hian and Hiuen-Tsiang have described and praised Indian material prosperity. Indian villages around 1,780 in Bihar have been cited as an example of cleanliness and hospitality. The streets were swept and watered and the people had a remarkable sense of hospitality and attention to accommodate the needs of the travellers.
Old British documents established that India was far advanced in the technical and educational fields than Britain of 18th and early 19th Century. Its agriculture technically and productively was far superior; it produced a much higher grade of iron and steel. The Iron Pillar at Mehrauli in Delhi has withstood the ravages of time for 1,500 years or more without any sign of rusting or decay. Metallurgists of the world have marvelled at this high degree of sophistication in technology. Textiles formed the great industrial enterprise of pre-British India. Up to the late 18th century, India was the leading producer and exporter of textiles; China was then a close second.
Indian advancements in astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, physics and biological sciences have been documented and recognised all over the world. Contributions in the field of medicine and surgery are also well known. Ayurveda and Yoga are the best gifts from India to the world in creating a healthy civilisation. India knew plastic surgery, practised it for centuries and, in fact, it has become the basis of modern plastic surgery. India also practised the system of inoculation against small pox centuries before the vaccination was discovered by Dr Edward Jenner.
Fa-Hian, writing about Magadha in 400 AD, has mentioned that a well organised health care system existed in India. According to him, the nobles and householders of this country had founded hospitals within the city to which the poor of all countries, the destitute, the crippled and the diseased may repair. ?They receive every kind of requisite help. Physicians inspect their diseases, and according to their cases, order them food and drink, medicines or decoctions, everything in fact that contributes to their ease. When cured they depart at their ease.?
It has been established beyond doubt by several reports on education at the end of the 18th Century and the writings of Indian scholars that not only did India have a functioning indigenous educational system but that it actually compared more than favourably with the system obtaining in England at the time in respect of the number of schools and colleges proportionate to the population, the number of students in schools and colleges, the diligence as well as the intelligence of the students, the quality of the teachers and the financial support provided from private and public sources. Contrary to the then prevailing opinion, those attending school and college included an impressive percentage of lower caste students, Muslims and girls. Mahatma Gandhi was absolutely right in saying that India was more illiterate in 1931 compared to its state of literacy 50-60 years ago, i.e. in 1870. India had also an expertise in ship building, as also in extensive manufacturing and uses of dyes, and also in manufacturing paper.
India had a share of about 22.5 per cent of world Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1600 AD which during British domination suffered a steep decline to 12.25 per cent in 1870, while the British share in the same period rose sharply from 1.8 per cent to 9.1 per cent. When Britishers left India, the economy was completely shattered and India'sshare in world manufacture, trade and GDP declined further. Even after 62 years of Independence, India'sshare in world market remains less than one per cent.
India'sprosperity, its talents and the state of its high moral society can be best understood by what Thomas Babington Macaulay stated in his speech of February 02, 1835, in the British Parliament. ?I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such high caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.? This policy was implemented very meticulously by Britishers and the education system was created to make Indian'signorant about themselves.
No nation can chart out its domestic or foreign policies unless it has a clear understanding about itself, its history, its strength and failings. It becomes all the more important for any nation to know its roots which sustain its people in a highly mobile and globalised world. Leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Sri Aurobindo, Mahatma Gandhi and others who spearheaded the freedom movement had built the struggle around a clear vision of India'scivilisational consciousness. Indian ways of thought and action were in the centre of their political action. These leaders had a vision to reconstruct the political and economic institutions of India as a continuum of the civilisational consciousness which made India one country, one people and one nation. It is unfortunate that the leaders of independent India quickly discarded this vision and continued to work with the institutional structures created by the British which had nothing to do with India'sworld view and its vitality which were responsible for its survival despite continued outside attacks and alien rule.
During the six decades of our independence, governance of our country, except for a short period, was with the Congress and its associates. It was most unfortunate that they never thought of creating a socio-economic and political paradigm of governance drawing from the civilisational consciousness of India. They, instead, tried to emulate whatever was being practised in this or that western country. The disastrous results are before us.
What was required after independence was to reorient India'spolity to bring it in consonance with the seekings and sensibilities of the Indian people. Failure to do so has resulted in a fractured society, vast economic disparities, terrorism and communal conflict, insecurity, moral, psychological and spiritual degradation, and a state apparatus unable to handle any of these problems. Attempts are sometimes made to apply palliatives to manage the affairs but nothing succeeds. What is needed is to arrive at a consensus about the ?Idea? of India and also about the seekings and preferences of the people and how they find expression in various socio-economic, political organisations and cultural, aesthetic and ethical sensibilities of the people of India.
The civilisational consciousness of India has been well defined by the sages and philosophers and has its roots in Bharatiya or Hindu world view. This world view is holistic and spiritual. It accepts that diversity is inherent in the scheme of creation; it is the manifestation of the same cosmic entity in different forms. Hence it not only accepts diversity but respects it and even more celebrates it. Hindu or Bharatiya view of life seeks unity in diversity. It is an inclusive approach and one can say that Hinduism is the most ennobling experience in spiritual co-existence. The Bharatiya mind has contemplated beyond national boundaries and the Vedic rishis declared in the hoary past Vasudhaiva Kutumbukam ? that the world is a family. The horizons of India'sworldview are known to have extended from Bamiyan / Kandahar to Borobudur / Indonesia on the one hand, and Sri Lanka to Japan on the other. Imprints of Indian culture are found in some other parts of the world as well. In ancient times India was isolated in geography but not in cultural relationship, trade and commerce.
The belief in essential unity of mankind is a unique feature of Hindu thought. The Vedic rishis had also declared that Ekam Sad Viprah Bahudha Vadanti (truth or reality is one but wise men describe it in different ways). This is essentially a secular thought in the real sense of the term because it accepts that one can follow his own path to reach the ultimate. Hindus are well known for their belief in harmony of religions. And because of this world view almost all religions practised in different parts of the world have existed peacefully in India and will continue to do so.
But it appears that even after six decades of Independence India has not been able to discover its innate vitality and its sense of time and consequently has lost its direction and will to act. The drift is acute and has encompassed all aspects of national life. The situation needs a change and a new paradigm is called for, for creating a prosperous, progressive and powerful India whose voice is heard in international fora.
India can achieve this goal provided the people seriously set to this task. We are endowed with vast human and material resources. Indian youth have demonstrated their capabilities in various walks of life and proved their competence. In science and technology, space and atomic energy, despite handicaps and lack of world class facilities, they have done remarkably well. In industry, business and management and information communication technology, they have successfully taken challenging risks. With this energetic and vibrant youth power and by prudently harnessing natural resources, Indians can perform miracles provided they work with self-confidence and pride in India. We have to assure a prominent role and full opportunities to our youth in the decision-making process. They are the future and the propellers of our prosperity.
India need not blindly copy this or that model of development; it should evolve a model suited to its genius and resources. The Integral Humanism suggested by Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyay provides such a model. India should be original, India should innovate, and India should move upwards on the ladder of global leadership. The global scenario demands a solution, a radical solution to save the world from the impending disaster of the great economic recession and terrorism looming large all over the world. India is destined to play its historic role at this crucial juncture and for this the BJP is committed to work for creating a modern, powerful, prosperous, progressive and secure India.