The Indian National Movement was a war for reclaiming our sense of belonging to this land, reinforcing our identity as Indians, and reaffirming the nation of our courage and resilience in preserving the core values of India as a democratic, sovereign nation.
Centuries later, visualising the colonisation of India and the Indian National Movement through the lens of Criminology and Victimology offers quite a novel understanding of India’s growth as a nation, even to be one of the top five global economies. In essence, this article looks into the colonisation of India as a crime committed against a nation as a whole, and India as being traumatised for over 200 years. Consequently, the journey of India since 1947 is presented as a country emerging from its most traumatic phase and rebuilding itself from scratch. The years of mortification of the native civilization were the most brutal, severe trauma for India.
The journey of India as a country since its independence, rather since its colonisation thus, can be comparable to the journey of a person going through the process of healing from a traumatic event in life, and that is what needs and deserves our compassion, empathy and understanding as citizens to give all the space and time and efforts to nurture this new India. The most empathetic thought to keep reminding ourselves is that there is no singled out past glorious image to go back to; there is only a new glorious and prosperous future to foster.
The different phases in the healing process are by and large described as follows:
Phase One: Realising the End of the Traumatic Event
The healing process begins with understanding and accepting that the source of the trauma is no longer a part of our lives. Grounding ourselves in the present time where we are no longer in danger and can feel safe is the first step towards regaining control of ourselves and our lives. This also involves breaking ourselves out of the recurring flashbacks and endless loops of past noises and images in our minds, often triggered by the most casual day-to-day incidences. This stage is where we continue to force ourselves to go on with our regular lives, despite the triggers, find our safe places, safe persons and safe moments in the day and live with these tiny safety nets till we are comfortable with pushing our boundaries again.
Phase Two: Accepting the Trauma as a Part of Our Lives, but not of Ourselves as Persons
This is when we can stop telling ourselves that this one incident is us, the trauma is our life. During this stage, we overcome our fears of even remotely similar events and thus create new memories of differentially similar interactions and incidences to help ourselves understand and accept that the trauma was only one event in our entire life. This is also the time when we are in need of kind assistance. It is extremely crucial to take constructive, little actions continuously and regularly so as not to remain fixated in this particular phase. This is also the time when we need to be bluntly but gently honest with ourselves about everything we now get to live with as a consequence of the traumatic event. Being mindful of not rushing through this phase and yet not remaining stagnant either is how we move ahead from this phase of the healing process.
Phase Three: Rejuvenation
We eventually create our own post-trauma identity, a new sense of self and start redefining ourselves, our beliefs and values. The trauma no longer has a direct impact on our day-to-day decisions and responses to life events. It becomes an indispensable part of our life story but only from an objective, third-person perspective. This is when we finally feel as an individual back in our own flesh and blood, when we reconnect with our core values and reconstruct our ways and means of attaining purpose and fulfilment in life.
Phase Four: Post-traumatic Advancement
The ultimate purpose of healing from a traumatic event is to move ahead with the lessons, and even the worst memories, without being negatively triggered or influenced by them for the rest of our lives. This phase occurs only after we have completely made peace with our victimisation and decided on a conscious choice to allow our experience to steer us into an unimaginably better course of life. This is when we learn to use the power of emotional resilience in our favour, irrespective of consequences and emerge as a different image of the same basic ethics and standards of living. We give up on the idea of this ideal past self prior to the trauma. Perfection becomes an accepted illusion and we actively work towards a wiser, bolder individual for all the right reasons; even advocating for those who are yet to find their voice.
This shift in how we relate to the world and what we make of the world’s perception of us gives us a different essence of self-dependence altogether. And so it does to a once-colonised and brutalised country on the whole. The spirit of self-dependence that India has as a nation given the history of its national movement renders us an invincible shield of resilience; it assures us beyond measure that no matter what happens, we will most definitely survive through every crisis situation and restore ourselves stronger and even better.
As India evolves through a COVID-stricken world despite negligible pandemic preparedness, it is interesting to observe how these above-mentioned stages of the healing process are in fact comparable to the advancement of India in terms of our Society and Culture, Economy, Education and Workspace, the Justice System, Public Health and Wellness, Politics and Governance, Territorial Integrity and National Security.
It is an absolute certainty that complete recovery from the effects of such long-lasting traumatic events and developing an identity filled with contentment and global significance is definitely possible. However, we as citizens need to be aware and cautious of the fact that the healing-from-trauma-journey is not a linear pathway to the land of the leading nation of the world. Healing is a continuous process with more roundabout circles and mirror-mazes than right turns and aesthetic highways. It also helps to remember that, as ironic as it sounds, recovery draws its strength from purposive and objective remembrance of the trauma itself. Most importantly, rejuvenating a nation into a healed-from-its-past-land-of-honour is entirely our responsibility as its citizens. The rightful citizenship that we are so proud of is a right that needs to be exercised as much as it is to be claimed.
After 75 years of the freedom to take charge of our own welfare, we, the citizens of India, ought to realise that leadership is a mindset, and not a position. It is for us to be the Indians we want our Parliamentarians to be. This applies to our work, and in whatever way we contribute to the Indian society. Talking of Patriotism in terms of the country’s defence forces alone is delegating our own national call of duty to someone else, expecting somebody to be patriotic on our behalf. Patriotism is not a language or a culture. It is a sentiment. A sentiment of dedicating our work and services for the betterment of every single life – plants, animals and humans, residing within the territorial integrity of the country we claim to be a national of in our Insta-worthy passports. Since a country is not a court of law but a social structure of the highest order, rights cannot be claimed. Rights need to be earned, with integrity, diligence, sincerity and compassion towards the natural and human entities of our country.
It is often said that, “Work on Your Body because You Love It; Not because You Hate It.” The same stands true for nurturing India into the country we dream of living in: “Work for India’s glory because you love it at present too; and not because you despise its present but only love the potential it promises.”
A country’s potential is a very abstract notion. It does not have any genetic predisposition. Neither is it an acquired-through-upbringing characteristic. It is an absolutely abstract concept that we get to build from scratch at any given point in time. That is the beauty of a nation’s promising potential. That is also the most challenging aspect of it. In the spirit of the Preamble to the Indian Constitution, we, the citizens of India, give to ourselves the stability and sustainability we want.
Compassion from us Indians towards what India has survived and how far we have come since a destabilised, plundered, divided and shattered country that we were left with back in 1947, can indeed work wonders. And for that, we as the natives of India need to understand the journey and appreciate the fact that India has been at the best of its abilities at any given point of time and space through its healing from the 200 years of the colonisation process, much like one single individual healing from the person’s own unfair share of trauma in life. This perception aspires to bring out the mindset difference between “this happens in India” and “this happens only in India”; so as to instil a sense of determination in the Indian citizens for creating the nation of our dreams, and not simply wishing for it upon a falling star.