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Reimagining Hindustan

What if way back in 1600, John Watts and George White decided to become pianists rather than start the East India Company? What if India was never colonized by the British? The India we see today, is a reflection of the infusion of myriad rulers in its past. The most prominent influence is of the 200 years of British rule. This is an attempt to walk down memory lane and reimagine our India without the Angrezi past. While this article will focus on the political conditions in a colonization-free India, the next two in this three-part article series will focus on the economic and social aspects. Way back in the 1700’s, India was majorly ruled by 3 dynasties. The Sikh empire controlled the north, (now North-India, Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan). Tipu Sultan ruled over the then vast province of Mysore (now South India). And the indomitable Maratha confederacy was in charge of the rest of India as it was then (now Central India and Bangladesh).

When the Marathas attempted to capture the territory of the other two dynasties, they failed. Due to high terrain advantage and strong forces, Sikhs beat the Marathas in the Battle of Panipat and, in the south, Mysore beat the Marathas in the second Mysore- Maratha war. Hence, based on the historical background, it is presumed that all the three dynasties were almost at par with respect to their forces, artillery, warfare techniques, and strategies. Therefore, the three would coexist in the status quo position for many years. I also believe that an alliance between any two to beat the third would have been highly improbable. For some reason or the other, it was not likely that two of the existing dynasties would team up and overthrow the third. For example, history shows that the Marathas wished to eagerly extend their territory in the north by waging wars against the Mughals and if need be, even the Sikhs.

This overambitious attitude would have never allowed the Marathas to join hands with the Sikhs to form a Hindu-Sikh alliance against the Muslim dynasty of Tipu Sultan. On the other hand, due to a bitter relation between Tipu Sultan’s father and the Marathas, an alliance against the Sikhs would have been impossible too. Lastly, an alliance between the Sikhs and Tipu Sultan, would not have been practical. Seeing the map, one realizes the extensive geographical distance between the two and the Marathas between them, quite literally! Hence, now that we have proved that all three were equally powerful and there was no chance of any two joining hands, we can safely assume that had the British not used their ‘divide and rule’ strategy (like joining hands with Marathas to beat Tipu Sultan and then, overthrowing the Marathas too), these 3 superpowers, would have maintained the status quo with respect to their territories (with only occasional raids on each other!). Further, (I conjecture that) eventually the inevitable realization would have dawned on these rulers that all of them would be more prosperous if they functioned together as a country.

Each of these dynasties had lots to offer in exchange for sharing the advantages that their counterparts had. Take for instance, the Sikhs’ superior and modernized Sikh Khalsa army (but lack of ports), Tipu Sultan’s control over the buoyant spice route (but limited and sidelined territory), and the Marathas’ extensive geographical territory and power (but, with the foresight that they needed alliances to face powerful enemies/ invasions like the Britishers knowing that they were colonizing countries).

Each of these dynasties had lots to offer in exchange for sharing the advantages that their counterparts had. Take for instance, the Sikhs’ superior and modernized Sikh Khalsa army (but lack of ports), Tipu Sultan’s control over the buoyant spice route (but limited and sidelined territory), and the Marathas’ extensive geographical territory and power (but, with the foresight that they needed alliances to face powerful enemies/ invasions like the Britishers knowing that they were colonizing countries).

Thus, all three would have come together, to form a formidable force of which we would have studied in our history books today! Hence, I feel that for their own mutual benefit, (and if possible out of fear of the threat of invasions from foreigners like the Portuguese), these three superpowers would have come together in a confederacy and formed an undivided, complete India (or as we will call it Bharat Rajya in this article). Fast forward to the 21st century, instead of having 3 countries- Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, I visualize a system of governance similar to the UAE model. India would have 3 different monarchy regions (Sikhs, Marathas, and Mysore)- each called a Rajya and together called Bharat Rajya- under a single country. The President of India would be one of the 3 monarchs. He would be the monarch of the Rajya which has the highest contribution to the combined GDP of our imaginary Bharat Rajya. This incentive would lead to healthy competition between the monarchs, and would overall benefit the economy and the masses.

At the central level, the descendants of the rulers of the Rajyas would sit to rule the country. Taking inspiration from the Ashta-pradhan (eight council members) system of governance that prevailed within the Marathas, these rulers would appoint cabinet ministers responsible for the administration at the Rajya and national level. The Ashta-pradhan will consist of a foreign minister, responsible for international relations and infusion of new ideas from the rest of the world; a defence minister, responsible for the safety of Indian citizens and peace with its border countries (now China, Iran and parts of Afghanistan) and an education minister (more on education in the social aspect of this article series). Keeping in mind India’s (and the three Rajyas’) vast diversity in terms of culture, languages, and religions, ministers from different groups would be appointed to ensure a fair representation of both the majority and the minority groups.

This would form the Executive Wing of the Bharat Rajya. The Legislature in Bharat Rajya would compromise of a Council or a Parishad that would be responsible for passing laws for the entire country. The Parishad members will be nominated by the three rulers. Additionally, influenced by the increased adoption of democracy globally in the late 1900s, the monarchs would have decided to give more power to the people. And thus, half of these Parishad members would have been elected by the people and half appointed by the three rulers unanimously, every 3 years.

The Judicial system in Bharat Rajya would be that consisting of hierarchical courts. Since ancient times, India has had councils at the village and local level. These councils (similar to panchayats) would solve cases of both civil wrongs and criminal offences, taking references from the law of Dharma. In medieval India, too, there were judicial authorities at the provincial and district levels who were further answerable to the king and his court of justice. Hence, in Bharat Rajya, I believe that there will be courts at the grassroots level, at the Rajya level and a single court at the national level (to solve cases of prime importance and/or among the Rajyas). The law of India would be based on the ancient laws followed (dharma law) and past court judgements.

To keep up with the changing times, courts would either voluntarily take inspiration from judicial systems worldwide and introduce new laws, or the people, inspired by movements globally (like the women's suffrage movement), would protest to win these rights. In our imaginary Bharat Rajya, apart from a prudent understanding of Rajyadharma, presence of both external and internal competition would drive monarchs to work for the betterment of the nation. In an effort to become the President (procedure mentioned above), each monarch will strive to work hard and develop their Rajya. Monarchs will also have a personal ambition of being remembered by posterity and outperform their fathers, and forefathers.

International economic competition to garner supremacy coupled with our desire to equate Bharat Rajya’s reputation as the Golden Peacock globally will further push the rulers of our imaginary nation into development work. Another reason that would motivate these leaders would be the onset of the democratic trend of the 2000’s. With decolonized countries adopting democracy (like Mauritius), dictatorships turning into democracies (like South Korea) and the fall of the Soviet Union, a fear of a social uprising supporting this new age trend would have pushed monarchs to work for the interests of the country. I would like to believe that India’s last surviving dynasties would come together in peace and harmony. I imagine a sovereign India. From Balochistan to Silchar and from Kashmir (all of it!) to Kanyakumari, Bharat Rajya would be absolute - one that wasn’t severed of its organs due to partition and one that will remain united through the ages.

Jai Hind!
By Deepti Mahajan

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