Putting a bit of India into Indian
The week building up to Independence Day is always the most patriotic. Also the mot pretentious, next to only Christmas & Diwali. People have this sudden infusion of patriotism & replace their tees with kurtas, their ringtones with saare jahaan se achchas, and their statuses on social media with "I love my country". predictably, on the D-day (or I-Day) people we haven't spoken to in ages will send us patriotic Whatsapp messages, videos & pictures and solemnly stand for the national anthem, even the 2 seconds after the last "Jaya He" without immediately sitting down, like we all do in cinema halls in Mumbai.
In reality, it’s time for us to replace the quintessential Lata Mangeshkar tearjerker “ Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon”, the contemporary & more funkier“ Des Mera Rangrez re Babu” from Peepli Live should as the Independence Day song
Why, you ask? Because it’s more closer to the truth.
We spit on the streets of our “great land” and worship the same earth as a Mother. We raze off our majestic mountains till they begin to resemble Lego toy blocks. We build houses, on these toy blocks, disturb nature’s order, and with totally disregarding nature and then wonder why so many landslides occur.
We build skyscrapers, brag on about the “ growing” real estate, buy two three flats,leave almost 70% of them empty and pass people who live and die on the pavements, under the flyovers and next to railway tracks & garbage cans.
We are in a country where our leaders consider it more prudent to fight with each other instead of allowing the Parliament to work for the very people for whom this institution was built. A place where it takes the Parliament 14 days to function, and the day it does is also spent in blame-gaming and incessant yells, as bills lay forgotten.
We live in a country where our education is measured by marks, success by salary, women by dowry, journalism by TRPs/marketing & films by the crores it garners at the end of a week.We are a country where ceasefire violations go from being "breaking news" to "news" to a part of life.
We live in a country where religion, instead of being a method to find , as humanly possibly, a God, becomes a way to differentiate amongst people. A country where when somebody like Raju Hirani gets injured, we blame it on karma for making PK which “insulted God”, whereas a bedecked, make-up plastered, simpering woman in red is worshipped as Radhe Maa, even though she is embroiled in a dowry harassment case. Apparently that isn’t insulting God.
We are in a nation where a day before a major national holiday, we have people selling flags every ten feet on the railway bridge and a day later we find the same flags crumpled on the tracks.
A nation where greed of land, money and fame has almost murdered decency, honesty & sincerity. Where we demand special status for states, because apparently it isn’t enough that we have divided our states into small pieces of land.
We live in a country of cowards, afraid to hear the truth for fear that it might hurt, afraid to help somebody on the road for the fear that it might be a trap, afraid to trust somebody because they belong to a particular community or region. A country where the backbone of our society is hatred & distrust. We live in a society which is literate, not educated. Where we glorify the dead and ignore the living.
“My motherland”, “ my nation” are just random phrases we throw around to instill a patriotic feeling in us, and mostly to show it to people around the world. The truth is that we don’t consider anything even one cm outside our 200/500/1000 square foot houses as our home, and people who aren't our family/friends/acquaintances as "our" people. Well, at least not as long as we're in India.Which is why we spit and urinate on the road and litter all around without any concern, but hyperventilate when somebody comes to our house and drops a minute scrap of paper. Which is why we don’t want to clutter our house with artifacts, but don’t mind cluttering the road with 3 cars for a family of four.
All this reminds of the famous, oft-used poem of the great Rabindranath Tagore, which I never understood as a kid, yet admired people who could recite it at poetry recitation competitions. What a vision the man had for the country, that too over a hundred years ago! Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high/Where knowledge is free/Where the world has not been broken up into fragments/By narrow domestic walls. How pained would that man been to see how we have become the complete opposite of what he wrote.
This Independence Day, don’t put up a status. Don’t change your Whatsapp DP. Don’t even listen to the PM’s speech from the Red Fort if you don’t want to. Sleep in late. Let it be a holiday. Chug in some beer if you want to. Watch K3G instead of Chak De India or Lagaan. Just vow never to litter. To fight for what is right, and not rake up an issue to conceal the issue which you should be fighting for. Never to judge a fellow Indian by his caste, creed or region or religion. To agree to disagree. To actually consider this land, these roads, these rivers and these mountains as your home, and not just the flat you stay in. And to love India and take every step to make the country a better place, not only on 15 August or 26 January.
Happy Independence Day, folks. May we truthfully be the generation our leaders hoped, prayed and fought for. Let’s put a bit of India in ourselves. Jai Hind!