Nations are created on the basis of race, religion, language or ethnicity. India, however, is a mind-bogglingly complex combination of all these ingredients and more. Sameness has been the basis of the making of nations. India stands in total defiance of this formula!
In some ways, we’re probably the oldest nation on the planet. Although we comprised over 200 political fragments in the past, we were still seen—from outside and from within this subcontinent—as an entity with a certain civilisational unity. And so, this land was called Bharat, or sometimes Hindustan.
The term ‘Hindustan’, it must be remembered, pre-dates religion. It did not refer to one particular faith. It meant a geographical identity—the land between the Himalaya and the Indu Sarovar (as the Indian Ocean was known).