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1-3 Minute Gist

World News Insights 1-3 Minute Gist

India - The Way Forward

Bharat and Cina in Sanskrit - the heritage of Vedanta and the Buddha that the Asian people identify with

"England" comes from Old English meaning  Angles- land, the land of the Angles, a people who migrated from Europe to the British Isles. United Kingdom is fairly recent as etymology goes with the word coming from the Act of 1707 which united England with Scotland. England is the word the English people identify with. The word "China" comes from the Sanskrit language with Buddhist heritage, the Sanskrit word Cina meaning the country China. Zhongguo the name for the People's Republic of China is a word referring to the "Middle," the land in the middle or middle kingdom. It was only adopted under Sun Yat Sen, Chinese leader who set up a government after the fall of the Manchu dynasty, and was inherited by the Peoples Republic of China in 1949.  The Sanskrit Buddhist heritage of the word Cina really defines China better than the geographical representation of 'the Middle," a land somewhere in the middle region between the Himalayas and the China Sea.

The word India is from Greek origin, and has origin in the word for the Indus River that flows from Tibetan Himalayas now occupied by China, to Ladakh near Leh in India, and winding into Azad Kashmir now occupied by Pakistan, flowing into the Punjab plains, and on to the Arabian sea through the Sind region. The Indus river was called Sindhu, a word with etymological origins in Tibetan, Sindh region, and called Mehran in Persian. It was picked up under Portuguese influences, under British as India, and French who called it Inde. The countries formed after the partition of South Asia in 1947 were Pakistan, that took its name from a term given in 1933 at a British Third Round Table Conference in London, an acronym created from the regions first letters- Punjab, Afghania for the Northwest Frontier Province, Kashmir, Sindh (then part of Bombay Presidency and Sind), and Baluchistan. And the nation state of India from the rest of British India.

Today this region of the Indus River when one looks at a map of South Asia is mostly in Pakistan and Tibet with the Indus flowing from Tibetan Himalayas into Kashmir, Ladakh in India, and into the plains of the Punjab and Sindh, heading for the Arabian Sea. Sindhu the term for this region from Tibetan, Sindhi languages has little resemblance to modern day "India", little connection with the regions in the west from Gujarat, Maharashra, and Kerala, regions in central India from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, and regions in the east from W. Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamilnadu. There is a disconnect etymologically, culturally, linguistically, and historically going back to the Buddhist and Vedantic heritage of the people in the regions of the Gangetic Plains, of the rivers Brahmaputra, Ganges, Narmada, Krishna, Godavari and other rivers in the south.  

The Sanskrit terms with the Vedanta and Buddhist heritage are common to China and India, Cina in Sanskrit for China, and Bharat for India, from ancient times. The Buddhist heritage is the biggest transfer of spiritual knowledge building a common culture that shaped Asia from India to China, onwards through Vietnam and Indonesia to Japanese islands. The whole Indo-Pacific region that we know today is shaped by this ancient culture, history and traditions to this day. So that Inde as French word for India with Portuguese influence later taken up by the British as India, is an anomaly, not fitting the Indo-Pacific Asian region's culture, history and traditions from Vedanta and Buddhism that shaped it to the present day. It is an anomaly as much as Zhongguo is for China, adopted as recently as 1912, compared to the ancient and immense landscape of Buddhism and Vedanta throughout Asia from the Brahmaputra and Ganges to the Yangste and Hwang Ho rivers, onwards to the Mekong and then further on to Korea and the Japanese islands. With the spread of colonialism from the 15th century onwards, and the scientific revolution taken up vigorously in the twentieth century onwards in Asia to dispel the gloom of colonialism, only this spiritual heritage covers this entire region from Bharat to Cina to the Japanese islands. For most of its history from the time of Japan's Dogen in 1200-1253 Cina was seen as the Pure Land of Buddhism from the Japanese islands, and Bharat the land of the Bodhidharma and of the Buddha and Vedanta in both Cina and Nihon (Japan).

The word "Japan" comes from the Portuguese in the 16th century and it first appeared in English in 1557 as "giappan." Most Japanese use the term Nihon for their country which written in Sino-Japanese characters means rising sun. It was first used by a Japanese mission to China in the 6th century during the Sui dynasty in China, referring to the sun rising over Japan on the east of China. A young person in Japan can identify with Nihon and rising sun which carries the kind of narrative about the country which builds self-belief compared to Japan from "giappan" from Portuguese traders.  Cina does that for China, and Bharat does that for India from Sanskrit and the Vedanta Buddhist heritage. "India" then is analogous to "Japan" as a term for the country that comes from outside. Nihon and Bharat carry a narrative of self belief ingrained in the culture and tradition of each country with a deeper meaning and carrying with it a sense of duty to country, and of the tasks of citizens in nation building and development. A child growing up in Japan has a narrative of his own that gives him something that he can identify with and believe in his own process of self-development through Nihon. Much the same is true for a child growing up in India who has a narrative of his own that gives him something he can identify with and believe in his own process of self-development through Bharat.

Vivekananda writes in 1893, in a letter to his countrymen from Yokohama, Japan, that the cause of the condition of mummified civilization for the Indians and the Chinese, is the extreme poverty in each country. "To an ordinary Indian or Chinese, everyday necessity  is too hideous to allow him to think of anything else." (125th anniversary edition, Advaita Ashrama, Vol. 5, Epistles, P. 11). This is in 1893- the worst of the conditions that ran into the 1950's and 1960's. How did this happen? 

1. The lack of communication in ideas with other nations and acquiring the best ideas in observation, science and reasoning from other nations.

2. The lack of a sense of national narrative and sense of duty to country and people

3. Drainage of the wealth of the country by people from other countries, and since 1947 the leakages of public funds intended for infrastructure and public services such as health, technology and education, and the lack of continually enlarging this pool of public funds and inputs of technology and capital for development. The leakage of public funds intended for infrastructure and public services since 1947 is the same as the draining of the country's wealth by the Portuguese in the 15th century, the Dutch in the 16th century, the British in the 17th, 18th and 19th century, not just in Bharat, but also in neighboring Sri Lanka, and Indonesia, the so called Spice islands.

A lack of a sense of national narrative, or feeling of a sense of duty to country and people Vivekananda describes in this way in a letter in 1894 (125th anniversary edition, Advaita Ashrama, Epistles, P. 57)-

"How many are there who feel for them. What an immense difference in India!  Who feels there for the two hundred millions of men and women sunken for ever in poverty and ignorance? Where is the way out? Who feels for them? They cannot find light or education. Who will bring the light to them- who will travel from door to door bringing education to them? Let these people be your God- think of them, work for them, pray for them incessantly- the Lord will show you the way."  


Mohandas Gandhi wrote Hind Swaraj in 1909. About 112 years ago Gandhi was returning from London to South Africa after talking with the British government about the problems of Indian settlers in the Transvaal region of South Africa. He was 37, and he wrote the classic 136 page book Hind Swaraj during the 10 day voyage aboard the ship Kildonan Castle. Young Gandhi laid out the ideas that were implemented from 1916 to 1936, two decades that defined the road to independent nation. Two ideas were clearly stated- the aspirations of the people for self-government, and a government that invested in the country and its people. He told the British Empire- "You may keep the riches you have drained away from this land, but you may not drain riches henceforth." Young people who have the most to lose from the leakages of public funds intended for infrastructure and the public services such as health, technology and education, say this to all federal, state governments today- "You may not drain riches henceforth." And wherever there is a draining away of the wealth of the land.

The prime minister's many yojanas (projects)  are making a real difference in the development of Bharat. It will still be 2024 115 years after Hind Swaraj was written that the basic condition of clean water from tap water for every household will be a reality. It took so long because the leakage of funds for infrastructure was condoned and accepted since 1947. It is then time for a pledge from every young person to never condone, accept or tolerate this condition in the national life. Another aspect of this was that not enough was invested in infrastructure and not enough investment was made in the people of Bharat. A second pledge for young persons is to pledge to accelerate this development and investment in every way with every bit of energy they have. And to continually and more than substantially enlarge year after year this pool of knowledge, capital, science, technology,  and other inputs of development.

What is seen from the leakage of public funds and the lack of a continually enlarging pool of capital and technology is fewer roads, fewer bridges, fewer tunnels through the mountains, fewer tech built airports and ports, fewer tech built rail lines and metro lines, fewer homes, schools and hospitals built, less infrastructure at every level. Fewer factories and fewer Made in India products. 

The New Bharat, is about character, about no leakages of public funds, about attitude, endeavor, scientific curiosity and adventure. It is about free and open communication with what is going on in the minds of other nations, their experiments, their solutions, their adventurous spirit, making the best our own. The new Bharat that every child, every little girl or boy, will aspire to with energy.





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