What Is India News Service
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Indian Analyst


   About 'What is India'


The pains of partition, preceded by a millennium of barbarian invasions, insignificant kingdoms, impact of a new religion, upheaval of ancient values, civil wars, colonization, and the painful partition of a united nation based on religion seemed to have been soothed by time.

This is not to say that all of the last millennium was useless.  In this era of downturn, the country saw the emergence of the Chola, Mughal, Maratta, and Nayak empires. Their unique contributions to visual and performing arts, military, nation building, culture, science, and religion laid a strong foundation that the peoples could draw from to overthrow the yoke of colonization.  These bright luminaries in an otherwise dark millennium drew from their ancestors and they from theirs for several eras before.

The large scale sacrifice of the last 150 years before 1947 to fight colonization is unparalleled in Indian history.  Hundreds of thousands of Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims bonded together to seek freedom from a colonial master over 10,000 miles away.  Those who drew such inspiration from the past were many.  They sacrificed their lives so we would live!  They showed us a way forward but got left behind with their supreme sacrifice.

We need to build on what our forefathers built for us the last 200 years.  Centuries of conflict, decades of infighting, an explosion of population, a contemporary ineffective democratic leadership steeped in corruption, a selfish bureaucracy, an overburdened and clunking judiciary, a partisan outdated press, and countless challenges we have many.  The nation seems exhausted.  The people cynical and disenfranchised from politics.

Yet, despite such hopeless odds, India has transformed itself from a social, economic, and Constitutional basket case.  It is now synonymous with democratic principles, economic progress, rule of law, information technology, self-reliance, scientific development, agricultural self-sufficiency, and optimistic outlook.  That a nation and its people have recovered from such a recent past speaks volumes of the resilience of the culture, values, and its people.

Future generations will stare in awe at such achievement.  Students of history may spend their lifetime trying to figure out how is it that this nation can succeed when all its peers seems to struggle or fail.  However, how is that India is always portrayed as a nation that has no vision?  Why is it that any news worthy of India is always about scores of people dead, maimed, or other horrific incidents?  Why do countries frequently make policies on India that is against the nation?  How is that, despite a history of tolerance, co-existence, and secularism, the nation continues to be highlighted as a nation of communal violence and intolerance?  What information do nations and their people have on India that is positive, historical, factual, truthful, insightful, and constructive?

Founded by Aravind Sitaraman, a Computer Scientist, an earlier instance of What is India was created in 1995.  It was the first Internet-based info-base on India.  Actively seeking to change how India-related policy is conceived, created, and implemented, it sought to create a continuing body of constructive information on India so that policy makers, academicians, researchers and investors can make informed decisions.  It assisted several researchers world-over and was a prime source of information on India.

Renamed whatisindia.com, the site has now taken a much broader role in influencing India policy and opinion.  It continues to provide indexed articles, opinions, analysis, and editorials from published media through its topical and issue based portals.  In addition, its not-for-profit research project also produces original and hard to access content.  One recent effort is to provide translations of inscriptions available in South Indian temples on the Internet.  With this huge body of Archeological Survey of India (ASI) information, historians and researchers can find several centuries and millenniums of historical fact on the Internet.

Other projects in the pipeline include several topical research eJournals that researchers will find useful when researching on India.  This will bring together distributed and uncoordinated research on India into a virtual network where intellectuals can share topical information on India.  The organization also funds India research and will bring out topical documentaries in the near future.

We welcome you to browse What is India, and to send us your thoughts on its content and presentation.  You could also fill out our feedback form or sign our guestbook.

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