Why 'Akhand Bharat' Is A Pipe Dream

17/03/2016 8:23 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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These days the use of the term 'Akhand Bharat' has become a fashion. Without any prior knowledge or information various right wing politicians have started using this word during speeches and election campaigns. But how many know the history behind it?

The idea of Akhand Bharat was originated by the master of the Arthashastra, Chanakya. At the time, the 3rd century BC, the Indian subcontinent--which covered what are now the modern-day nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Burma, Tibet, Bhutan and Bangladesh--was divided into many independent kingdoms. Chanakya articulated the idea of an Akhand Bharat, which means all states in the region being under one authority, rule and administration. To a great extent, he was successful. He discovered Chandragupta Maurya, powered him to throne and then through war, wit and alliances he conquered all the princely states to form Akhand Bharat. Fractures, however, appeared after the fall of Chandragupta Maurya, although these were temporarily plastered over by the instalment of Ashoka as king. This was not to last, as we all know.

With the Mughal invasions, many princely states surrendered their power and while others such as the Mewars and Rajputs tried to put up a fight, they did not make much headway and the idea of Akhand Bharat became an ideal of the past.

Meanwhile, the British set foot in India and changed the course of history forever. However, it was not until the revolutionary fight of 1857 that the British realized that the nation could be broken along the faultlines of religion. And thus they adopted the policy of divide and rule. They practically broke India into various states and literally brought every princely state under their rule by threatening, buying or negotiating. Not only that, in order to avoid unification in future, the Brits brought out differences among them which led them to become arch enemies of each other. This way, their energies were directed away from a bid for freedom.

It is thanks to revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Mahatma Gandhi and Subhas Chandra Bose that India gained back its freedom. However, the damage done by then was immense. Apart from breaking Bharat into India and Pakistan, the states in India had different governing rules. Bringing all the states under one government and one Constitution was a mammoth task. And then another Chanakya-like man, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, rose and gave everyone an idea of a United India. It couldn't have been called Akhand Bharat because the country was divided into many fractions. Finally in early 1950s Sardar Patel fulfilled his ambition of a United India.

Talking of Akhand Bharat in today's world would make no sense because this would require the unification of India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Burma. Such a vision is impossible in today's India. The very definition of India has changed for various politicians. While a few think India should be secular, others see it as a Hindu nation. These ideological differences will never ever help India achieve its dream of Akhand Bharat. If anything such an attempt could result in bloodshed.

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