In my childhood I never imagined about a concept called ‘Akhnd Bharat’, though I knew about India and the subcontinent. I first heard about it on the BJP agenda in late ninties and had sympathy on the brainwashed people to buy such crap material. The concept was quite clear – to bring the subcontinent countries into Indian sphere of influence. Now, this is when I use gentleman’s language. To be more straight forward, it means to expand India to include the whole subcontinent.
I thought most of the people would reject it, and that happened also. Now I think the policy was nothing but a legacy of RSS from their pre-partition days. As BJP matured as a party, this idea and propaganda changed from these childish thoughts to multi-wing economic, social and political causes – although traces of these are still present in their policies.
Let’s not debate about how the idea came, rather let me do a reality check. In general, a hundred years ago the idea used to be – bigger the nation, better it is. It was mostly argued that bigger countries generally have more resources and more influence over the world. But in last few centuries the history has actually proved the other theory. The smaller countries manage their resource in a better way and the citizens are typically more dedicated and motivated – hence they grow quicker. It started in Europe and spread quickly throughout the world – from South America to Africa. Even the so called larger countries also started to implement the idea of breaking up into states and promote the country as an union of the states. This genre of countries include India and the United States. And the third group of countries remain autocratic – sometimes it was an autocracy driven by a person or otherwise centralized rule driven by an idea – Communism. The third set of countries include former USSR, China, Yugoslavia and some Arab countries.
If we look back at post-world-war-II hisory, the countries those were classified as most successful, are still the category 1 countries. Be it Korea, Japan, Taiwan, South East Asian Nations – small countries did well regionally. That means, if the region does well, smaller countries also do well. And the reverse is true as well – take the example of Africa. The larger countries are proved to be the drivers of the region – be it US for North America, or USSR for East Europe, the countries of the same region are tagged along with the Big Brother of the region.
Coming to India and the subcontinent, one of the major reasons of the backwardness of the region is basically the backwardness and non-growth-facing policies of India. Had India been growing at 6-7% per annum for last 30 years, the whole subcontinent would have been different. It would have been through trade and business. The idea of Akhand Bharat would have been spawned at least with free trade and business.
But given the backwardness, all countries of Subcontinent are actually jostling for lower place in the ladder. A bigger country comprising these entities would be a disaster. And the bigger sufferer would be the same Indians, who are already paying price for poor Indian policies. Had India been undivided, most of Indian resources would have been utilized to resolve the frictions between different linguistic and religious communities. Akhand Bharat, thus would be an unrealistic dream. India, even as per today, is not a completely united country.
However, the idea is still in use by some of so-called political analysts of our neighbours. Among my favourites, there are a Pakistani and a Bangladeshi personal blog. The classical allegations start from History centric arguments of religious politics, Partition, Caste-war and Hindu fundamentalism. The historical allegations are often true if they are viewed from the one side of the story. The magic of these are to link these history with current Trade or Water disputes or even some internal unrests. While accusing neighbours is a card that India plays more often in case of militancy, the neighbours are not lagging behind in the race. And, the end comes a heavily funded well-organized daemon – RAW. I don’t know what India or RAW gets out of spying some poor neighbours – and trying to influence it [yawn]. RAW is mostly used to monitor Indian own integrity since that is the core of Indian concern.
The conspiracy theories are often childish in nature – as childish as their main opponent idea of ‘Akhand Bharat’ or the Indian hegemony. Most of the time direct reference or statistical evidences are avoided in these writings. For example, the Water dispute with India was a complete battle of self-interest. And the Indus treaty did not bar India from building upstream dams on the western rivers. This fact was clearly misrepresented in the blog. It also discusses sex life of Indira Gandhi and Nehru. I don’t know what purpose did they serve. The other set of writings from Mr Munshi and Mr Zainal Abedin focuses on some imaginary issues. They see India behind all secular causes (promoting Tagore and some Hindu-like cultural aspects in Bangladesh – if it is true I am proud of it) and also some extremist causes (such as JMB). !! Confused !!
I think it’s high time to stop blaming the neighbour and build a nation as most of the subcontinent is still poor. India has matured a lot and of late I have seen positives – at least the foreign policy has been delinked from all interests of Pakistan. To get a better deal from the rest of the world, we need to use any country that fits our interest and remove the bias those we carry as a post-partition baggage. China has already done that. Can India (or would have been ‘Akhand Bharat’) do it?
A Reference book by M B I Munsi – The India Doctrine.