A lot of water has flown through the Yamuna since that eventful night of August 14th when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gently nudged India towards its “tryst with destiny”. The human carnage of Partition and the geographical brutality of drawing a dividing line in the middle of a continent, cutting through villages, homes and families meant that amidst all the fanfare and celebrations questions were being asked if the great nationalist project was at all sustainable. Never before had such a multitude of languages, religions and castes, that shared so little among themselves, come together under one flag, maybe loosely linked by the fact that a majority was ruled by a foreign power they had been fighting to get rid of.
As historian Ramachandra Guha notes “the heart hoped that India would survive, but the head worried that it wouldn’t. The place was too complicated, too confusing – a nation, one might say, that was unnatural.” Yes, the last seven decades were far from a smooth ride, from demands over linguistic sovereignty, to gory battles on religious pride, from bloodthirsty caste wars to angry tussles over territories and borders. But at the end of the day, India has survived, and may we say thrived.
If the seven decades since August 15, 1947 have been immersed in drama, then the years, decades and centuries leading up to it have been no less riveting. Attacked and invaded time and again, the destiny of the subcontinent has been written and rewritten to bear the marks of its tumultuous past. In the next few weeks and months, as we celebrate 70 years of Indian Independence, Indianexpress.com covers stories reflecting the colonial roots of India’s past, the forces of nationalism that helped shape the country’s present and its future as well as other stories that we cannot forget at this juncture in our existence. After all we are all “made by history”.
Our ‘70 years of Independence’ series will look at everything that our history has made… from architecture to cinema and food. It will also try to map the very idea of India and the politics behind it as well as the pains of Partition. To engage with us on our exploration of the Indian journey, please use #India70 in your conversations.