India, a country pompously referred to as the world’s largest democracy, is home to not just the most ancient tribes but also to people from diverse descents. The inhabitants of this great country in its days of glory were seekers of truth. Their prayer was encapsulated in the following verse from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: ’Tamaso mā jyotir gamaya’. (From darkness, lead me to light). In keeping with the theme of this prayer, ancient Indians kept their mind and heart open for truth from different directions to trickle in because they always believed in the following adage propounded by the seers of the hoary past, ‘The truth is one, but wise men know it as many’ (Rig Veda).

Consequently, visitors from different countries were welcomed as Guests of Honour –true to the dictum ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ (Guest is equivalent to God) – and were allowed to practise their belief system and faith without restraint. The Parsis were a case in point. The consequent blossoming of different ideological concepts and doctrines over thousands of years of relative peace and serenity culminated in the metamorphosis of the Indian society, which was living in perfect harmony in a nation that made a mark for itself as a land of spiritual sublimity and bliss. Rather than wilting under the glare of alien faiths, the native wisdom of our ancestors shone brightly like a beacon of truth.

The peace and prosperity of the country gave it the sobriquet 'Sone ki Chidiya’ (Golden Bird). This and the added charm of the liberal and universal outlook of the people in spiritual matters and their traditional hospitality led to an unapprehended situation, leading to marauding fortune hunters from the monolithic killing fields of Arabia and Central Asia, invading the land of peace and spiritual bliss; and putting it to waste by trying to change the value system and mental outlook of the original inhabitants who were forced under the threat of death and dishonour to don a religious straightjacket and wear blinkers.

Even before the survivors of unspeakable atrocities could regain their wits, there was a washing down of the remnants of the self-esteem and pride in their ancient way of life, by European traders who tricked, with the support of their armies, the native rulers into accepting, over a period of time, the suzerainty of the British Empire. What followed was a seamless transition from a 1,000-year occupation of the land by the proponents of one alien faith into a 200-year rule by the proponents of yet another.

A country subjugated, mauled, brutalized and vandalized beyond recognition, survived the atrocities by the invaders to emerge more united and politically stronger than ever in the past albeit for the partition of the country enforced by a clever conspiracy hatched by the outgoing colonial powers and forces inimical to the unity of the Indian nation. The spiritual and cultural ethos of the nation was left in tatters, but it still held together. What made this possible? It was the 'Bharatiya' ethos that presented itself as a source of inspiration and hope. The Indian Tricolour symbolizes the 'Bharatiya' ethos, inspires the people to join the nation's march, stride by stride, to progress and prosperity and hope for a bright future for the country.

Thankfully, with all those painful ups and downs behind us, India now stands at the dawn of a new era. The collection of articles in this book represents my thoughts about various issues currently facing our country. They reflect the state of affairs in various fields ranging from politics to social welfare, arts to sports, economy to judiciary, and agriculture to industry, to name a few. On going through the pages of this book, one can easily get an overview of what India is today and also make a fair assessment of the various challenges that our country faces. The readers will also know that the prevailing conditions are neither too bright for complacency nor too dismal for despair.

While everything has not been lost, there is no time to be lost either in the nation's endeavour for regaining the lost glory. The overall situation for India's advancement in the right direction is brighter now than till recently during the indifferent and lackluster governance of the country by ragtag outfits of political opportunism. This turning point for India came after the general election 2014 when the new government was elected to rule with an overwhelming mandate, heightening expectations that the current government will enable this country to realize its massive potential and make rapid progress.

The country is, at last, on its course from darkness to light, in deference to the prayer of every Indian, past and present. That is the core spirit which this book tries to capture.

Dr. Sunil Gupta