To ideate is one of the defining features of human beings, and our ability to create them and move away from current reality helps us to move forward. Plato understood that ideas are perfect, eternal, and immutable.
Such an idea floats during a creation of any nation. So what was the idea while creating India, how did the idea of India come? More the 5000 years of recorded history remains before the current idea of India came up. Hindustan, Bharathvarsh are some of the old names associated with many kings, queens and kingdoms rise and fall during this period. Despite the factionalism, religious and cultural differences over the years, a holistic culture developed which was common feature across these boundaries. In 1888 a British civil servant John Strachey while writing in ‘India: Its Administration and Progress’, said “This is the first and most essential thing to remember about India – that there is not and never was an India, possessing any sort of unity, physical, political, social or religious; no Indian nation.”
Well he was almost right, in its absence of unity there was also presence of unity among the people and seen commonly during celebrations of festivals. And the British did bring in a lot of positives which helped in unifying the country in terms of administration; however boundaries were redrawn. Around the world many countries were drawn by the colonial powers (Africa), in the Indian subcontinent borders of Tibet, China, Burma, and Pakistan were also done in similar fashion. So in a way for many countries around the world the old colonial powers have drawn the maps, otherwise it was a shift of powers and political boundaries.
Historically I feel the Mauryan Empire was the first legitimate nation building empire, with the great Chanakya developing one of the first recorded administrative rules. Chanakya not only helped his king first Maurya Emperor Chandragupt (c. 340–293 BCE) to build the kingdom he also set ground rules for various administration fields like economics, taxes etc. He was like a guardian for the empire. But was it all he created? How did his knowledge grow? And How well connected he was? (More on this later)
Aid Shankaracharya ((788 CE – 820 CE), an Indian philosopher was inspired to travel across the vast land and geographies to set up or laid foundation (in the future) for multiple mathas (monasteries) from Kashmir in the north to the south, east and west of vast landscape, which became a loose connect of kingdoms. From that period onwards various events helped to create a sort of loose nation of states or a state of many nations. The Islamic invasion came later, but like a large melting pot the culture got more enhanced. When the British came in the 17th century it is true that they saw many states (kingdoms), which ultimately unified to fight the British and make them leave. Pakistan was created but they are a part of us…and when we reach inside our hearts what can be seen is that there is an Indian in each of us in some form or the other.
We are a young nation…a nation of billion plus, but remember an old civilization…and once again in history of this world making our mark, but this time we will not be forgotten.