Building unity, synergies and convergence through “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat”


  • G Kishan Reddy

We Indians have always looked upon our motherland as a civilizational state. The civilizational boundaries of such a state are decided by the reach of its culture, its ethos and the prevalence of a common unifying spiritual quotient. As a result our concept of nationalism is not limited by geographical boundaries. Our sanatan dharma views the entire world as one family – Vasudaiva Kutumbukam. On the other hand, Europe and the west gave primacy to national boundaries defined by territorial limits, maps and the ability to enforce the law of the land within these territories. If there was one person whose contributions are unparalleled in ensuring that India’s territorial boundaries and its civilizational boundaries closely aligned to the maximum extent possible, then it was Sardar Vallabhai Patel.
Thus, it was only apt for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to launch Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat on 31st October 2015 – on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. While addressing the audience during the Mann Ki Baat program prior to the Sardar’s birth anniversary, the Prime Minister remarked “Sardar Patel gave us Ek Bharat and It is now the solemn duty of 125 crore Indians to collectively make Shreshtha Bharat”. Subsequently, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while announcing the initiative in his budget speech for 2016-17 said “For good governance we have to capitalise on the country’s unity in diversity. To strengthen understanding of each other, it is proposed to create a closer engagement between different States and Districts in a structured manner. Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme will be launched to link states and districts in an annual programme that connects people through exchanges in areas of language, trade, culture, travel and tourism. We will do this through mutual agreement with participating states and districts””
The programme fosters unity in India by celebrating its diversity by promoting a structured engagement between different States and Union Territories. With the programme every State and Union Territory in the country will experience a single composite mosaic of a national identity through enhanced mutual understanding and by sharing facets of their diverse cultures.They are paired with each other for a year, during which they carry out a regular engagement with one another in the spheres of language, literature, cuisine, festivals, cultural events, tourism etc. Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat is an emotion wherein different cultural units access varied geographies, coalesce and interact with each other, further allowing the heterogeneous and the cosmopolitan society to imbibe the innate chord of binding and brotherhood. It induces a sense of responsibility and ownership for the nation as a whole through these close cross cultural interactions. This is vital for the spirit of nation building and to ensure benefit to one and all. The idea is to create a learning ecosystem between the various stakeholders of the partnering states so that they benefit from the best practices of one another by establishing a state to state connect.

The enhanced understanding that the Ek Bharat Sreshta Bharat initiative brings amongst fellow Indians creates a curiosity to visit other diverse cultures in their own settings and is a positive contributor to tourism and the communities that benefit from tourism. In fact, we all remember, the Prime Minister exhorting fellow Indians to visit at least 15 tourist destinations within India by 2022. The Prime Minister felt it would automatically lead to development of tourism across the nation and at the same time help citizens explore the beautiful destinations within the nation and first-hand experience the natural beauty and rich cultural heritage India has to offer. The Prime Minister’s vision and leadership has led to the building of deep synergies and convergence between programs such as “Dekho Apna Desh” initiative of the Ministry of Tourism and Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat. WIth more and more vaccination doses being administered, the tourism sector would be able to operate in full capacity from January 2022 and the inherent strength of ‘Incredible India’ will be able to tap the foundation that Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat has laid out and reap rich dividends.

The very first Article 1 of the Constitution of India describes India as a Union of States. This means that the Union is indestructible. This unique Union is a diverse combination of religions, cultures, tribes, languages, cuisines and therefore its people. There is no country like India, quite as diverse, multilingual and multicultural, yet bound together by the ancient bounds of shared traditions, cultures and values. The immense sacrifices rendered by our forefathers to protect and preserve the diversity of our country is beyond imagination. Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat aims to do justice to one such towering figure who went about the huge task of integrating the 565 odd princely states to the Union of India seamlessly.

*(G Kishan Reddy is the Union Minister for Tourism, Culture and Development of Northeastern Region and represents the Secunderabad Parliamentary Constituency)

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