On India and Mexico


  • Firdaus Jhabvala






I returned to India for the first time in eighteen years last January. India is much more united than before and there is a clearly Indian character emerging from the mosaic of different peoples, races, languages, religions, etc. that constitute present-day India. It was heartening to see Bengalis in Mysore, Kashmiris and Punjabis in Madras, South Indians in Delhi, and so on. The national market and government have been cementing together an Indianness that has been missing and that is sorely needed within the structure. When I was a schoolboy I remember my school friends all telling me that it didn't really matter if China took the Himalayas or not, since they were far away. In college, my Marathi friends were not excessively bothered by the war with Pakistan (1965) since the fighting was going on in Rajasthan, we were in Bombay, and probably the Pakis would bash up the Gujaratis (deservedly, some thought). I am sure this has changed. India is further away from tribalism and closer to nationhood in a part of the world where nations and countries don't last (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka now, etc.). I think it is fair to say that Indian nationalism will assert itself more and more. People from all walks of life told me the same thing over and over again: "India comes first, and then we will see about the rest." So I think we have an emerging national force in the third world—perhaps not as audacious as China, but coming along.

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