What it is to be Indian?

This Independence day – my heart grew kind of fond for my nation. It was I think our 60th
birthday and the country has – even though there may perhaps be a lot wrong with it –
proven to be a very strong and respected nation around the world. I spent that day – the
15th of August like a sabath – a holiday; didn’t do much – just thought about my nation; my
country; our identity; what we have done; what we have achieved. Many thoughts and many an
emotion ran amok in my mind and my heart was aroused with passion of some times disgust at
what our people and governance are capable of and more often than not – pride at what we do
and where we  have reached and what we have done. This is what they say love is – I felt it
for my nation.
In the next few days an Indian woman became the chief of an American cola company and
conspiracy theorist that I am – I see in it connection with the fact that colas had been
banned a few days back in my nation. But I cannot argue that ladies achievements down and
her Indian ness was perhaps a coincidence or a mere chance of fate as is often what great
nations attract?! I think my country is amongst the great – it is a pity that economists
insist  us as developing – 3rd world countries. I know – it is true also that there are
parts of our nation that are sub saharan in their poverty at Orissa for example. Our laws
and legal systems leave a lot to be desired and does not often come up to mark – but then
there is sheer large ness of the numbers involved – the population size is after all a
billion – there are after all a billion issues and tangles to be solved! And we have
freedom – we can do what we feel – more or less and there is really not a lot any one will
do to stop us if we keep within the limits of decency and rowdiness – but even  that is not
too mandatory!
For every little poverty stricken crib about our nation I hear from the world’s thinking
classes – the more I wonder – don’t they ever add up teh fact that for 60 years – except
for a very small period of emergency – ever had any curtailment on fundamental rights of
expression. And we have had enemies the world’s largest non democracy is our neighbour as
also another beloved nation which was once a part of our heritage – but is today an
university  of global jehad – some of it aimed at my country too. We have had bombs go off
with the frequency of diwali festival fireworks so many times that I think a certain amount
of acceptance has perhaps come in of bad things happenning and the Indian way of life will
prevail. Often religion is bought into the description of analysis of what Indian ness is
causing widespred consternation. But then it is only to be accepted I argue; this was after
all a civilisation that was born some where in the Indus valley – quite some time back – it
was a way of life – and yes religion was a large part of it!
To be Indian is an unique synthesis – as much Mughal – e – Azam; as much emperor Jalaluddin
Akbar as today it is to be Sharukh Khan. There is magic in this synthesis and I think the
high point of our civilisation was when Europe was in the mediveal period. Often we are
snided for  our caste system among the world’s intelligentsia; but not many will accept
that there is a system here – where even  the presidency of the nation cannot be on caste
lines be drawn. We have a country where a person from a ‘backwards’ state with less than
equal previliges can today be a business school hero for what he has wrought with another
ever green Indian institution – the Indian rail system. The fact that he did in spite of
corruption taints & scams – I think speaks something about democracy and our way of life.
Yeah; I’d rather though he hadn’t the corruption taints. I’d rather that we stopped being
rated so high by Transparency Internationa Index on corruption and so low by Amnesty
International on civil rights.
I rationalise – we have the burden of history on our backs – and we have impoverished poor
whom we have started to feed now barely and we have many of them – much much more. And we
let everyone have a point of view – a vote of equity in the system. This often gets in the
way and that is a burden many a nation does not and probaby will never ever. For in that
multitude and in that number is the answer. I remember when I was a kid – I read somewhere
that if every ‘chinaman’ (those days that was sort of a derogatory reference to the Chinese
and we were off course much less politically correct) were to get on to a stool; a chair
two feet tall and jumped off – the Earth would fall out of orbit. Man that is the kind of
an impact a civilisation should be able to make and today and today those same chinamen;
our neighbours with the chop sticks are doing it . And we are too in our own  slightly
glacial way after all often isn’t it that our nation has been compared to an elephant and
rarely ever to the Tiger?

About Soumya
A technology enthusiast, forever enamored by all that it hath wrought and of course here is an attempt at making sense of it all and perhaps simplifying it!

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