breaking up india 6

[notes from a forthcoming book: part 6 of a series of exercises involving breaking up india into parts to understand it better. i'm not posting all the notes, only random ones]
i'd said:
india was always considered an empire all through history - how did it become a nation?
perry anderson asks this question too - how did india become a nation? or why did india become a nation in the minds of all major leaders of the freedom movement - from gandhi to nehru - and still remains such a strong idea among even the 'most distinguished Indian intellectuals' - like amartya sen to ramachandra guha to sunil khilnani to meghnad desai - when historically it never was a nation? anderson notes:
Nehru’s claim of an ‘impress of oneness’, going back six thousand years, persisted from pre-war writings like The Unity of India to his final dispute with China, in which the Mahabharata could be invoked by his foreign office as proof that the North-East Frontier Agency had been part of Mother India from time immemorial, rather as if the Niebelunglied were to clinch German diplomatic claims to Morocco. Such notions have not gone away. The facts gainsay them. The sub-continent as we know it today never formed a single political or cultural unit in pre-modern times. For much the longest stretches of its history, its lands were divided between a varying assortment of middle-sized kingdoms, of different stripes. Of the three larger empires it witnessed, none covered the territory of Nehru’s Discovery of India. Maurya and Mughal control extended to contemporary Afghanistan, ceased below the Deccan, and never came near Manipur. The area of Gupta control was considerably less. Separated by intervals of five hundred and a thousand years, there was no remembered political or cultural connexion between these orders, or even common religious affiliation: at its height, the first of these Buddhist, the second Hindu, the third Muslim. Beneath a changing mosaic of mostly regional rulers, there was more continuity of social patterns, caste – the best claimant to a cultural demarcation – attested very early, but no uniformity. The ‘idea of India’ was essentially a European, not a local invention, as the name itself makes clear. No such term, or equivalent, as India existed in any indigenous language. A Greek coinage, taken from the Indus river, it was so exogenous to the subcontinent that as late as the 16th century, Europeans could define Indians simply as ‘all natives of an unknown country’, and so call the inhabitants of the Americas.
you'd think anderson had delivered a resounding slap to the collective face of the brahminized classes through his book. but they're not easily daunted, and ignoring totally the unpalatable parts, such as the excerpt quoted above, they quote him selectively with a lot of enthusiasm these days. because it's a trendy thing to do in academia, perhaps.

so why do all of india's modern day leaders and intellectuals lie, why don't they admit that there never was any india? anderson's essay is just one recent example, there have always been others who had questioned this 'idea of india'. anderson's scaled down, but very effective presentation of some plain facts makes it seems such a commonsensical question. why don't people ask it more often?

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