Wide Angle
feature finder global classroom about the series search:

intro debate photo essay timeline resources
Soul of India

Debate - Two views of India's modern soul

In 1947, when the British Empire departed South Asia, India divided into two independent countries. Pakistan, created as a homeland for India's Muslims (then approximately one quarter of the Indian population), emerged as an Islamic republic. India, with a much greater territory shared by a multitude of ethnic, religious and linguistic groups, chose a secular route. Recognizing the multicultural character of its society, India -- under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru -- adopted a constitution that de-emphasized ethnicity, religion and language, all then considered key unifying traits in the European concept of nationhood.

For much of the past half century, Pakistan has endured successive coups and military regimes while India has remained democratic. Since the early 1990s, however, a flagging economy, flare-ups of communal violence and the increasing popularity of Hindu nationalist parties -- such as India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- have raised a question: Is the Indian state in the midst of an identity crisis?

Debate Topics

Attacks on Muslims
Halting Communal Violence
Lessons of Indian History
The Indian Constitution
Religious Minorities
The Indian Soul
India in the 21st Century
Relations with Pakistan
The War on Terror
Nuclear Weapons
Sunil Khilnani
Sunil Khilnani, professor of politics and director of South Asia Studies at The Johns Hopkins Univerity School of Advanced International Studies, is the author of "The Idea of India."

Read his bio
Subhash Kak
Subhash Kak, a professor of computer engineering at Louisiana State University and a Vedic scholar, is the author of "The Wishing Tree: The Presence and Promise of India "

Read his bio

Sunil Khilnani Quote:
"Introduced initially by a mincingly legalistic nationalist elite as a form of government, democracy has been extended and deepened to become a principle of society, transforming the possibilities available to Indians. They have embraced it, learning about it not from textbooks but by extemporary practice."

Subhash Kak Quote:
"After the fall of an empire it is often years before its language of rule is eclipsed, before momentum for the creation of new, free-er institutions develops.... India is still in this period of transition. Many institutions necessary for the new birth have not yet come into being. This birth can take place only after the revolution has found a new grammar and vocabulary of government."
Related Show Features
Nation Divided Photo Essay - Trace India's post-Ayodhya religious strife.

India Timeline - Learn more about the history of relations between India's Hindus and Muslims.

Human Rights Atlas - Learn more about human rights in Mexico and its Central American neighbors.

Grozny Photo Essay - Take a walk through Chechnya's bombed-out capital, Grozny.

Kurdistan Map - See where Iraq's chemical attacks on Kurdistan took place, and why.

Chechnya Timeline - Discover the history that drives the Chechen separtist movement.

Mexico Photo Forum - Respond to photos that depict Mexico's struggle with human rights abuses and corruption.

email this page
resources feedback privacy policy site map pledge