Over the years the Indian leadership, and the educated Indian, have deliberately projected and embellished an image about Indians that they know to be untrue, and have wilfully encouraged the well-meaning but credulous foreign observer to accept it. What is worse, they have fallen in love with this image, and can no longer accept that it is untrue.
Do you know about Hanuman, sir? He was the faithful servant of the god Rama, and we worship him in our temples because he is a shining example of how to serve your masters with absolute fidelity, love, and devotion.These are the kinds of gods they have foisted on us Mr. Jiabao. Understand, now, how hard it is for a man to win his freedom in India.
The contrast between the familiar and the exceptional was everywhere around me. A bullock cart was drawn up beside a modern sports car at a traffic signal. A man squatted to relieve himself behind the discreet shelter of a satellite dish. An electric forklift truck was being used to unload goods from an ancient wooden cart with wooden wheels. The impression was of a plodding indefatigable and distant past that had crashed intact through barriers of time into its own future. I liked it.
Over the years, the British had strategically pitted the Muslims against the Hindus, supporting the All India Muslim League and encouraging the notion that the Muslims were a distinct political community. Throughout British India, separate electorates had been offered to Muslims, underscoring their separateness from Hindus and sowing the seeds of communalism. Teh Morley-Minto reforms in 1908 had allowed direct election for seats and separate or communal representation for Muslims. This was the harbinger for the formation of the Muslim League in 1906. In 1940, the Muslim League, representing one-fifth of the total population of India, became a unifying force. They were resentful that they were not sufficiently represented in Congress and feared for the safety of Islam.
A profound impression was created by the discourses of Professor GN Chakravarti and Mrs Besant, who is said to have risen to unusual heights of eloquence, so exhilarating were the influences of the gathering. Besides those who represented our society and religions, especially Vivekananda, VR Gandhi, Dharmapala, captivated the public, who had only heard of Indian people through the malicious reports of interested missionaries, and were now astounded to see before them and hear men who represented the ideal of spirituality and human perfectibility as taught in their respective sacred writings.
India had a very long independence movement. It started in 1886, [with] the first generation of Western-educated Indians. They were all liberals. They followed the Liberal Party in Britain, and they were very proud of their knowledge of parliamentary systems, parliamentary manners. They were big debaters. They [had], as it were, a long apprenticeship in training for being in power. Even when Gandhi made it a mass movement, the idea of elective representatives, elected working committees, elected leadership, all that stayed because basically Indians wanted to impress the British that they were going to be as good as the British were at running a parliamentary democracy. And that helped quite a lot.
That night my mother had what she considered a wonderful dream. She dreamed of the country of India, where she had never been. There were orange traffic cones and beautiful lapis lazuli insects with mandibles of gold. A young girl was being led through the streets. She was taken to a pyre where she was wound in a sheet and placed up on a platform built from sticks. The bright fire that consumed her brought my mother into that deep, light, dreamlike bliss. The girl was being burned alive, but, first, there had been her body, clean and whole.
Me, and thousands of others in this country like me, are half-baked, because we were never allowed to complete our schooling. Open our skulls, look in with a penlight, and you'll find an odd museum of ideas: sentences of history or mathematics remembered from school textbooks (no boy remembers his schooling like the one who was taken out of school, let me assure you), sentences about politics read in a newspaper while waiting for someone to come to an office, triangles and pyramids seen on the torn pages of the old geometry textbooks which every tea shop in this country uses to wrap its snacks in, bits of All India Radio news bulletins, things that drop into your mind, like lizards from the ceiling, in the half hour before falling asleep--all these ideas, half formed and half digested and half correct, mix up with other half-cooked ideas in your head, and I guess these half-formed ideas bugger one another, and make more half-formed ideas, and this is what you act on and live with.
On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality.In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value.In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value.How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up.
There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won't go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colors, smells, tastes, and sounds. It was as if all my life I had been seeing the world in black and white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolor.
I have heard your orators speak on many questions. One among them the so-called vital question of money which is above all things the most coveted commodity but I, as a Hindu, as a Jainist, in the name of my countrymen and of my country, would offer you as the medium of the most perfect exchange between us, henceforth and forever, the indestructible, the unchangeable, the universal currency of good will and peace, and this, my brothers and sisters, is a currency that is not interchangeable with silver and gold, it is a currency of the heart, of the good life, of the highest estate on the earth and it is the currency of heaven.