What provides the unique bonding between India & America? Is it trade interests as some elite members of the academia or media hazard guessing from time to time? Is it political ideology of the two countries that draws them to each other? Is it global security partnership between the two countries that acts like a strong adhesive? There can be any number of such questions without any finality about the answers as it might be both yes and no or even both. However, the single most strong element that bonds these two great nations is “knowledge”. America enjoys the reputation of the land of knowledge, knowledgeable and knowledge pursuers, something which India has been, but had traveled a long way of eclipse and revival.
India has always attached the highest value to freedom of thought and expression. It is our dharma or cardinal principle. So is the case with America. Both the countries are known for their professed act of faith and practice of freedom of thought and expression. America has been able to attract the best minds from all over the globe only because there was this assurance of the freedom for the scholarly to pursue their dreams as they wished, and the state providing them whatever help it could. At least the American state never stood in the way of these scholars or discouraged them in any way. India could not do so in the early days of independence due to financial constraints caused by centuries of foreign rule. But even under such trying conditions, Indians never gave up their pursuit of knowledge. How could that happen? Because of what has been stated above: India has always attached the highest value to knowledge, come what it may! We have been educated about it from ancient times. We have been told that the highest goal of life is knowledge or Gyan: “Gyanam Paramam Dhyeyam”. Gyan is more than knowledge; even more than what is commonly meant by knowledge; it is advanced knowledge. It is that stage of knowledge after which nothing more remains to know. So, it needs no more emphasis as to what is meant by gyan, because a life span is too short a period to know all that is worthy of knowing. This remains true even after technology has empowered us immensely. With all the power of technology we have not yet made it to the several universes our scientific discoveries have identified.
Knowledge has been so vast and varied that it has been given another all encompassing word: Truth. What is truth? All that is knowable in the cosmos is the truth. It is pure distilled knowledge. It may not be possible to define truth in any convincing manner, but questions thrown up by the human mind so far in its existence do indicate about it. What is it that we see? Is it reality or illusion that our eyes see? Is the world a creation? Is the cosmos an evolution? How do perfect laws of science come into operation without anyone visibly managing them? If someone is managing the phenomenon visible to us, what is it called? Is God or its synonyms in all the dead or living languages of the world a simple waste of time or more valuable attempts to acquire knowledge? Pre-scientific studies might have ruled the human mind till scientific studies came to prevail. How is it that science is constrained by its own limitations in getting all the answers? Does it mean that knowledge is not only the oceans on the earth alone but the whole sky whereas our scientific tools have not been able to take us beyond the limits of the galaxies? Will the human race have all the time to explore all this knowledge and render it comprehensible in the distant future? Will it end once again only to make another start from the beginning in the all encompassing cycle of time (with T capital)? The Indian mind had explored all such dimensions in the ancient times and it inspires and spurs them even today. That explains the journey by choice of the Indian mind to that country at the other end of the globe after independence in 1947. Aren’t these Indians, settled in America, a valuable asset of that country? If the answer to that question is in the affirmative, you have validated my finding that “knowledge” is the sytrongest bond between India & America.
That brings me to the other aspects of Indo-American relations, which have witnessed ups & downs all these years. These variations are due to trade interests, foreign policy, diplomatic reasons, strategic consideration and failures of the intelligence agencies. These wings of the government have been regularly briefing the press and the media, who in turn marketed the version provided to them by these agencies, without independently exploring the truth. For how many journalists the principles of non-violence have any meaning or significance? How many appreciate or even understand “vegetarian” values? The global media devotes more time on violence in the world and insignificant time on good living societies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting America for five days beginning 26th September 2014. The Indian community in America is warmly greeting him. However, the American media seems to be cold to the visit. They have ignored even the bare courtesy of at least reciprocrating the warmth shown by the Indian media in covering the visits of President Clinton or Obama and others. It is so because the American mind thinks itself superior to other countries, more so leaders from developing countries. If such a mind-set influences bilateral relations from time to time, it does not surprise me. Because the bureaucracy anywhere in the world feels hurt if it finds itself in the wrong at any time and American bureaucracy is no exception. Leaders come and go, but bureaucrats survive in person or their papers! In spite of these odds, India and America will remain friends for centuries because their bonding is unique. I can’t be sure if there is another example in the world of this kind of nations and the bonds of their friendship. Together these two are strategically positioned to give the world the necessary environment for peaceful co-existence in a meaningful way.