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Assam-Mizoram clash: Is Essence of India to be 'lost forever', or has it already been?

By Dikteii Hnamte* 

According to Oxford Dictionary, an essence is ‘the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something abstract, which determines its character’.
In 1994, at the Miss Universe Contest in Manila, Sushmita Sen was asked, “What is the essence of being a woman?” Her answer may be summed up as “…love, caring and sharing”, which won the hearts of the audiences and the judges and this answer won her the Miss Universe Crown. If love, caring and sharing is the essence of being a woman, the absence of any of the traits would mean that the essence of being a woman is lost and a woman without love may be regarded as half a woman!
Let me give an example of a feast. The essence of a feast must be the variety of the dishes that is being prepared, to meet the taste of all and give them satisfaction. The cook who is in charge of preparing the feast has to know that the essence of the feast would be lost if he prepares it to his own taste only or according to the likes of one group of people without considering the rest. This means that a good cook should know the nature and the tastes of the people he has to feed and prepare his meals accordingly, without favouring one over another.
Another example may be taken with a flower garden. The essence of a flower garden is the beauty that everyone would see with many flowers blooming in their own time. The flower garden will bloom with different flowers like Roses, Lilies, Lotuses, Daisies, Ivies etc., all needing different kinds of soil, water and sunshine and all needing different kinds of gardening tactics.
Some will grow well in water, some in dry soil, some in wet soil, some in the sun or some in the shades. To keep the essence of the garden, a wise gardener must know how to make all the flowers bloom and also know that from the outsiders, his garden will remain beautiful as long as each flower bloom in its own time and are cared for equally.
Even if the gardener is fond of a particular flower more than any other flower; if he loves his garden, he would not uproot all the other flowers (for example, uprooting all the roses, lilies and daisies to make a pond for growing lotuses) just to satisfy himself, for then, it would mean that in the eyes of those who like Roses or other flowers more than Lotus, the garden will lost its beauty and its essence.
What is the essence of India?
When I was studying Class VIII, on my first class on Indian history, the opening line that my teacher used was “India is a land of unity in the midst of diversity” which, to this day, I have not forgotten and I can still see the face of that teacher whenever this phrase was said or mentioned by anyone, even 45 years later!
I did not know its exact meaning at that time, but somehow, it was so beautiful that it got stuck in my mind and later, I understood its significance which is that the essence of India is 'unity in the midst of diversity' – a country having different cultures, languages and religions – being united amidst the many differences. And since then, I have been reminded of the beauty of this phrase time and again.
India has over 500 tribes and the citizens belong to different religions. History tells us about the unity and solidarity that Indians have shown in the face of many odds especially during the time of struggle for independence. The Indian Army, Navy and Air Force have representatives from all regions, community and religion and they all work together as one big force under the National Flag and one is always proud to be part of India with its beautiful essence – unity in the midst of diversity.
As everyone knows, The Preamble to the Indian Constitution declares India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic. The objectives stated by the Preamble are to secure justice, liberty, equality to all citizens and promote fraternity to maintain unity and integrity of the nation.
This beautiful statement which has always been the pride of every citizen of India however has been a subject of doubt on many occasions when the very essence of India was threatened and put to test by many selfish politicians who will put the interest of a few before the interest and welfare of all. The unified character of India has been threatened many a times when the government failed to secure justice, liberty, equality to all citizens regardless of the background of the citizen.
Feeding Mizoram with the favourite of Assam only will not satisfy the hunger of Mizoram, and if fed forcefully, it may choke it to death
Coming to the present clash between Assam and Mizoram, and citing the example of the 'cook' and the 'gardener', what has surfaced is that the cook preparing a feast for Assam and Mizoram, seem to have forgotten that both have different taste and both have come from different backgrounds. 
Feeding Mizoram with the favourite of Assam only will not satisfy the hunger of Mizoram, and if fed forcefully, it may choke it to death. Similarly, the gardener seem to be looking after only the favourite flower of Assam and planning to uproot the flower that Mizoram people have as their favourite.
If the cook would not stop preparing food considering only one group of people, or if the gardener would not plant and look after different flowers and give what every flower needs without favouring one kind of flower over the others, the essence of the feast as well as the garden will be lost.
This is what is happening now in India, starting with Assam-Mizoram, which shows a character likely to be expanding to all North-East states. If this speculation is right (I wish I am wrong), one needs to be a fool not to know where this will lead to.
Has the 'cook' or the 'gardener' taken sides?
Mother India, wake up! You are about to lose your essence, or have you already lost it?
That beautiful essence – Unity in the midst of diversity.
---
*Professor, Dept of Education in Mizoram University

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