Friday, April 19, 2024
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How much land does a man need?


By Nikita Whom does one call insane or mad? Generally, mad people are those who cannot be comprehended by the so called “wise men”. But if you read through history, people who were considered insane turned out to be geniuses. Their thought process was unconventional, maybe that’s why people called them mad. I fail to understand that why and who gets to decide who is “wise”, “normal” or “mad”. But without going into this discussion, I want to talk about a beautiful story “Gangu” by Uday Prakash. Now this story talks about a “mad man” who used to sing “Hindus in Pakistan, Gangus in Hindustan”. Out of curiosity, one day the writer asked him the sense behind the non sense. The mad man asked what name the foreigners gave to the people of the civilization who resided on the banks of the river Indus. The writer said, “Hindus”. “And where is the Indus now?” asked the mad man. “In Pakistan” said the writer. “So, this means that if foreigners arrived today on the north-western frontier, whom would they call Hindus?” The writer promptly replied,” Those who live in Pakistan.” He smiled further and asked,” Which is the oldest and largest river in our country?” “Ganga” answered the writer. “So what would the foreigners have called us?” The writer pondered and then the mad man himself said, “As far as I can figure out, they would have called us Gangus.” This was one of the most humorous yet sensible piece I have ever come across. Basically the purpose of mentioning this story was to make the readers think about the entire concept of owning land and migration. A city is made by its inhabitants and the inhabitants are characterized by the place they reside in. To justify my statement, let us talk about Delhi. The name Delhi is attributed to King Dhilu who built a town near present day Qutub Minar in the first century. For several centuries thereafter one did not hear much about Delhi. It was only after the 12th century that Prithviraj Chauhan III, made Delhi his capital. Thereafter, it fell to the Muslim rulers and thus Delhi in that period was called “The Delhi Sultanate”. During ShahJahan’s rule, the present walled city of Old Delhi became the capital and was called Shahjahanabad. In around 1911, the British Indian Government shifted the capital from Calcutta to Delhi and built a new township south of Shahjahanabad that came to be known as New Delhi, which continues to be the capital of India. Ever since the British shifted their capital from Kolkata to Delhi, the nature of Delhi changed and it became significantly cosmopolitan. From a virtually Muslim town, as is reflected by its culture, it began to assume the Punjabi flavour with massive inflow of Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan. Thus here one might notice that how the piece of land assumes and is renamed by its inhabitants. Delhi is a city which has spread quietly, suddenly. They say it’s a fast moving city. But who makes the city fast and happening? Poets describe the women here “brittle with paint” and “each hair has lost its root”. People here have changed with the time and the changing structures of the city. They once migrated to a land which had buildings and now they are a part of that land which only has futile architecture and buildings built by them and for them. With time, they not only changed but have gone through a metamorphosis in their lifestyle. Thus one’s surroundings are an indispensable cause of their lifestyle. Through this article I just wanted to make the reader ponder over the entire process of migration. We have our identities attached with the place we reside in and that place is an identified land because of its residents. We are Indians because the land we share is named “India”. But do we own this land? And if yes, then how much land belongs to me or to you? Is land no man’s property? One inherits it from its earlier residents and has rented it from the future inhabitants. There are so many questions with such cliché answers. But of course Leo Tolstoy answered this is such an ironical manner “Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed.”



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