Posted in India

We had our Revolution in 1947. When’s our Renaissance?

India is now just short of 70 years old. Actually, to paraphrase our Prime Minister, post Colonial India is now almost 70 years old; Indian history goes thousands of years back.

Why then, do we still have so many basic problems to deal with? Poverty, hunger, pollution, scarcity, overcrowding, droughts, floods, riots, rapes, yes, and rage.  So much anger. Anger on the roads. Anger at the government. Anger at your neighbours and your country’s neighbours. Anger at someone who said something, who showed something, who wrote something. Why are Indians so angry?

In my humble opinion, it’s because we are unsure of our place in this world. India is a mixture of diverse cultures, languages and climates, with no unifying factor apart from the conviction that we are one nation and one country. The fact that we fought together against the British is what tied together many kingdoms into one India. This brought with it political upheaval, but we never really self-actualised as a country. Europe began truly developing after the Industrial Revolution, and along with it came the Renaissance. We’ve had our Independence Revolution of sorts, but we never really got the chance to have our own Renaissance. From the 15th of August, 1947, after a thousand years of being ruled over, we were expected to be a new-born nation of a billion different people and figure out how to be one on the way.

We’ve figured out quite a bit, in 70 years. I don’t think we’ll ever have a Renaissance, per say. In this beautiful country of paradoxes, it’s just not feasible. No, we’ll have to figure it out bit by bit. Better ourselves bit by bit. We need to live our days better, push our limits, try a little more to see things from the other person’s perspective. The more we find out who we are as a country, the less angry we will become. Because, in my opinion, we’re angry more at ourselves than anyone else.

UPDATE: I just saw this video. It’s AMAZING.

 

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Appreciator of all things beautiful. Procrastinator At Large. Lover of animals. 23. Simultaneously too young and too old for her age.

4 thoughts on “We had our Revolution in 1947. When’s our Renaissance?

  1. Interesting post. And a complex one. In Europe, the Renaissance (14th C – 17th C) pre-dated the Industrial Revolution (from the 18th C), but there’s no reason why a renaissance has to come before industrialisation. Or even before technologicalisation. (If there is such a word.) But does India need re-birthing? I suspect not. Any change, as you say, has to come bit by bit. I suspect that’s the way it’s always been, everywhere, though for our convenience we like to stick labels on periods of change as though each was an explosion rather than an accumulation of sparks.

    1. Hi! Thanks for such a thought provoking comment. You’re so right about change being perceived as explosive by historians when it may not be in reality. What I wanted to convey in my post was that independence could have acted as a catalyst for some serious rethinking for India, which was missed. The Indian legal system is still replete with 400 yr old laws and laws taken from the British legal system that make no sense today. As far as the education system goes, we still broadly follow what Lord Macaulay created in 1835. I really cannot explain how bad this system is, but I can direct you to Lord Macaulay’s speech, where he specifies the basis of this system. If more people read that speech, they would understand why this system is so wrong for an independent, growing country. http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00generallinks/macaulay/txt_minute_education_1835.html

      1. Thanks for posting the Macaulay link. It’s one of the best examples of Imperialism-in-Action that I’ve read! If that’s the guiding principle behind today’s educational system, it’s overdue for change.

        Since reading your initial post I’ve been thinking a bit more about an Indian Renaissance, and renaissance in post-colonial societies generally. Then back to the European Renaissance, where it occurred to me that (with the exception of Italy) what European countries often rediscovered were the arts and sciences of, or as communicated by, a departed imperial power (Rome, in their case).

        And now I can see this influence in Macaulay’s thinking. I read his speech quickly, but noted how he dismissed Anglo-Saxon poetry, and made no mention of Chaucer that I saw. I’ve always suspected the English, in the process of acquiring an Empire, came to identify both consciously and unconsciously with Rome. Probably an effective mindset when it came to Empire building, but also – beneath the sense of superiority and “our fitness to rule” – a form of self-devaluation?

        Thanks again for such a challenging topic.

  2. I hadn’t noticed his dismissal of Anglo-Saxon poetry when I read his speech before, but I can see it now. What I thought he said was that while Arabic and Sanskrit were beautiful languages for poetry (which they are) English was much more suited towards Math and Science (which it is).Of course, I’m biased, so I picked up some aspects of the speech more than others.
    Your comment about Europe rediscovering Roman arts and sciences is very interesting. If I try to think about that in an Indian context, it becomes a little more complex, because the rulers before the British were Mughals, and while they were initially a foreign power, and indeed, most of them continued to behave as such throughout their reign, they shaped many aspects of Indian culture and society and became integral components of it.
    I’m a complete layman when it comes to subjects like this, but I really think that when a people invades another people, it affects the cultures of both, though not to the same extent, whether it be the Romans, the Mughals or the British. That could be why I would consider the British identifying with the Romans less of a devaluation and more of a recognition of similarities. And of course, as you say, it was an effective mindset for Empire building.
    Thanks for your well-informed comments! I never expected to have such a stimulating conversation when I wrote this post, I can tell you that. You’ve inspired me to read more on topics I wouldn’t have normally read about. 🙂

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