22
Aug

PEN America – India @75

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Recently on India’s 75th Independence Day, PEN America invited some writers from India and the Indian Diaspora to send in short reflections on what independence means to us today. They recently published the pieces. I found each of us, though we wrote independently, together echoed the same sentiment – a sense of dread. This is a sort of lament but surely not all of us can be wrong.

My piece is here. Placing inline below.

Births are bloody. At the dawn of India and Pakistan’s birth as nations in 1947, the Urdu-language poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz said: “ye daag daag ujala, ye sab-gazida seher, wo intezaar tha jiska, ye wo seher to nahin”—”This stained tainted light, this night bitten dawn, that we were waiting for, this is not that dawn.” While the Indian mainland celebrated the nation’s birth, the poet looked at the birth pangs, the bleeding, the result of extreme identity politics, the laceration of Panjab and Bengal due to Partition. About 1 million people died, and 15 million were displaced in the largest, inadequately documented, migration in the history of the world. At birth India was a poor, populous nation. Over the decades, India progressed on various development indices but its mass was so large, its complexity so dense, that it also bumbled along the way. Discontent grew in society. In the last decade, the wounds of identity politics festered when India’s majority mostly abnegated their secular ethos in favor of a right-wing dispensation that has used every sectarian trope, even institutions of state, to attack the minorities and erode democracy. Those who support the powers in this new India now seemingly find direction, but it is a downward spiral on all indices and its economy. Faiz’s dawn has turned to noon, and I tremble, stating: now another darkness beckons.

This is the beginning. You may need to scroll to read other entries. Thanks.

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