'Do not divide the country by regions'

“How can we ignore that there are two hundred million people living in western India and another two hundred in eastern India. They easily merged with another 600 million living in northern part of India and collective represented as 1.2 billion north Indians. It is time we treat east and west as separate entities,” he said.

Picture of apathy

Delivering the J N Tata memorial lecture on the peoplehood of India here, Gandhi brought into picture the apathy of the people to those living below the poverty line. The slums in any city account for more than 25 per cent its population.

These slums are everywhere but still nowhere because nobody considers them as part of society. They require only one thing for survival, that is ek tukda roti ka, (a piece of bread), he said.

In remote areas

The 70 billion tribals living in remote areas in India are facing the same crisis of identity. “We are unaware of their existence because they are threatened by the existence of powerful neighbouring groups,” he said.

No prominence

He explained that the most prestigious award, the Bharat Ratna, which is given to exceptional Indians gave no prominence to regions and states.  The first three recipients of the award,  C Rajagopalachari, Sir C V Raman  and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan were from Madras.

But they also had one more thing in common, that is the city of Kolkatta, C Rajagopalachari was the governor of West Bengal and the other two were professors in Bengal. The awards were immune to regional biases.

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