India…love it or hate it?
A long post. And one written with a sense of tiredness that has crept up unaware. The draft has been lying with me since quite some time. Wrote this when someone had written and written in quite a vitriolic manner about India.(old friends would perhaps remember)
Months have passed since then and yet each day one reads and hears about incidents that are eating up India from inside. A medieval India still in the dark ages. An India that thinks that caste based census is ‘okay’. First reservations, now this. Identities of ‘us’ versus ‘them’. Rural-urban. Rich-poor. Based on religion. Based on caste. Based on region. Based on language. Based on ‘gotra ‘ within that caste. The violence, the madness , the way educated leaders react to this insanity is depressing.
There has never been an archetypal Indian to stand alongside the archetypal Frenchman or Englishman.
Why is India still India??
OG had asked this question long back.
He had also answered the question . He wrote ,‘We in India celebrate and take part in most of the religious festivals and have read at some point or the other, the teaching of all religions.
So maybe, I can start calling myself an INDIANIST who believes in INDIANISM (Thank YOU OG!! for this brilliant piece)
Who is an Indian?
Someone who resides in India?
Someone who has a passport/election card/ration card/any other card that proves that you are a certified resident of this country?
We are a country that has more languages/cultures/religions/geographical variations than the rest of the world combined. (cliched but true)
Please do notice the use of the word ‘WE’ here.
Not my country or yours but ours. Hence the use of ‘WE’.
Are we diverse? As diverse as ONE country can get? You can bet your last rupee we are!
We are a country of more than a billion people .
We rant, we curse the ‘system’, we curse each other.
We live, we love, we laugh, we survive.
And that by god makes us one damn country!
You know what else makes us one country?
Because India cried…nay shed tears of blood when Mumbai was attacked.
No issue of outsider then. No sir. We had our priorities damn straight then.
Kargil because that is all I remember. Or had I been born a few years or actually a few decades earlier maybe then I would have added the 62 war and the 71 wars as well.
Don’t give me reasons.
Just tell me…Answer this question of mine.
Did India fight for you or me or for us ?
Which India fought these wars?
The perpetual ‘outsiders’? Or at other times the ‘bossy’ northerners? The UP wallahs, the Biharis?
Or maybe it was the Keralites?
Or those from Andhra?
Or maybe the Jats? Or how about the Punjabis?
Or the Marathas?
Or maybe it was the Gorkhas?
The list wont end but you sure will get tired of reading the names…Tired because nothing will irk you more than hearing about these various regional identities.
Nothing will irk you more than to know that there still are some who consider India and these identities to be separate.
More fool they!
I pity them..and pity them how!
Is it so difficult to understand that India IS all these identities and more?
That India can NOT be bound in rules/restrictions/definitions?
That the idea of India is one that has to be felt and not defined?
That India is in one’s heart or nowhere at all ?
India is you and me and so many others .
I have absolutely nothing against those who feel proud of their identities be it Marathi, UPiite, Malayali or anything else.
But do you have to do that at the cost of your Indian identity?
Do you only and only consider yourself to be from X,Y or Z state?
And even if you do, that’s fine by me.
But then please for god’s sake do NOT try to diss the Indian identity.
When you form ‘regional groups’ not just in the real world but even in this virtual world don’t you get even a pang? A tiny sliver of doubt perhaps? About what you are doing?
I can share recipes from UP with another UPiite..I can share some common stories of our ‘hometowns’…but I will NOT form friendships simply on the basis of which region one belongs to. And yet do take a look around and see how many are doing precisely that.
That you see is where it all stems from. From seemingly harmless actions, thoughtless words said on the spur of the moment.
It is the Indians who go and represent this country outside.
The words of someone who has written on the very same thing.
Dilip D Souza writes and writes brilliantly.
It’s a “very exciting” time, he said, because of the “feel-good” factor he senses here. But I wonder if dean Harker, or anyone, asked some other Indians how they feel about the economy, or anything. Indians, for example, whose family and friends have perished in Assam recently. It’s our various sons of the soil, of course, hard at work soiling their hands. In Mumbai, they not only stop a railway recruitment exam, they even vandalise a railway office.
In Assam , they prevent Biharis from taking a railway recruitment exam. In Bihar , they “retaliate” by beating up Assamese students in trains. Back in Assam again, they “retaliate” for this “retaliation” by killing Biharis: 50 and counting as I write.
What’s left that’s Indian? In nearly 60 years, the spirit of Indianness we have found the strongest expression for is hostility towards other Indians. We become sons of some map-drawn tracts of soil when it suits us, sons who seem to have been brought up only to assault other sons.
Yet this Indian soil has nurtured each of us, made us all what we are. Indian soil, I want to emphasise. The perversity only starts there. In Assam , some sons of that soil call themselves ULFA; in Maharashtra , other sons of this soil call themselves the Shiv Sena. Both speak the identical language of “outsiders” taking away jobs that “rightfully” belong to “locals”. But ULFA is a “banned outfit”, regularly called anti-national. The Shiv Sena, we are told, is filled with fervent patriots. So fervent that they are an important part of the coalition that runs the country today: A feel-good thought if there ever was one.
In Maharashtra , the Congress chief minister and his NCP deputy also speak the same language. Actually, politicians in every state find it politically lucrative to do so. Sometimes they even do it outside their states. In 1994, the Sena’s Bal Thackeray went to Goa and urged audiences to “keep non-Goans out of Goa ” by implementing a permit system. The irony of this advice coming from a non-Goan seems to have escaped both Mr Thackeray and his listeners. Where is this logic, if it is logic, going to leave us? Will we pursue it even if it means more lives lost? Will we hold to it until it breaks us? What happened to those constitutional guarantees that any Indian can settle and work anywhere in India ?
The Constitution urged us to turn ourselves into an educated whole by instituting primary education for all, and that by 1960. Has that urging translated into reality? The Constitution guarantees justice to every Indian, unqualified by caste, wealth or religion. Would the victims of Delhi 1984, Bombay 1992-93, or Gujarat 2002, picking just three great Indian tragedies, agree that that promise has been fulfilled?
The truth is, the madness we’ve seen in Assam , Bihar and Maharashtra of late is hardly a matter the Constitution can solve. So what if Article 19 gives us the freedom to move anywhere in our country? More persuasive by far is the logic a son of the soil mouths. Logic like that, a son like that, has contempt for a document written half a century ago. Indeed: The theory of sons of the soil is pernicious, wrong, foolish and several other adjectives I could come up with. But not because it violates the spirit of a solemn public document. It is so because it destroys us: You, me, Assamese, Biharis, Maharashtrians. Indians. Sons of the soil. Humans.
I mean more than 50 Indian corpses across Assam , this thing called “retaliation”. With their recent cycle of retaliation, Bihar and Assam have lived once more through the mayhem that is the only thing sons of the soil ever produce.
Tamil Nadu and Karna-taka have seen some of the same, instigated by the dispute over the Cauvery. How long before Maharashtrians are beaten up in the north, in “retaliation” for what their brothers of the soil did in Mumbai? Does all this qualify as protecting the interests of sons of the soil?
There is no fault line among us Indians that we are not avidly exploring today. Maybe we must, maybe every nation has to endure such exploration as it matures; I don’t know. I do know that I am now afraid it will tear us apart before it wears itself out. In a real sense, the fissures put fear in me every day.
I am frightened, as a non-Assamese, to enter Assam . (As frightened, I’m sure, as an Assamese must feel to enter Bihar , or a Bihari must feel as he travels to Mumbai to take exams.) Frightened to speak my mother-tongue, Tamil, in Bangalore . Frightened to speak Hindi in Gujarat , where a friend and I, college kids at the time, were once man- handled for doing so.
The hatred that builds on either side of all those fault lines, that arcs too often across the lines, can have only one result: Murder. Bear witness, Delhi . Bear witness, Gujarat . Bihar . Mumbai. Assam .
Bear witness to this beast that is leaving a nation, even the idea of a nation, in tatters.
Do you remember this song ?(the one given above)
Do you know why it was sung and recorded and was beamed so many times in so many places?
Because Bombay was burning.(yes it was still Bombay then and not Mumbai)
Because Indians had become bloodthirsty.
For those who seem to have forgotten what makes one an Indian…and more precisely what it is that India stands for…
(and before ranting once again about nationalist neo nazis and how ‘only’ 14 languages have been included and how ‘your’ state has been misrepresented yet again…..please , please try to look at the sentiments , the thought that has gone in the making of this video.)
India stands for Mile Sur Mera Tumhara
The song’s lyrics are unique– One phrase, repeated in 14 Indian languages:
“Mile sur mera tumhaara, to sur bane hamaara”, meaning “When my tune and your tune merges, it becomes our tune”.
The song itself ends by fading into the final notes of the Indian National Anthem.
The national integration video was intended to instill a sense of pride and promote unity amongst Indians, highlighting the different linguistic communities and societies that live in India — India’s unity in diversity, so to speak.[WIKI LINK]
Another Indian has tried to write the lyrics as best as he could…if any of you find any errors feel free to point them out , the link has been given.
Or how about this?
EK CHIDIYA ANEK CHIDIYA
This one…a simple animation..as simple as it gets.
Look at how simple and yet deep the lyrics are
Hind desh ke niwasi sabhi jana ek hain,
rang-roop vesh-bhaasha chaahe anek hain
All the residents of India are one though their colour,dress,language might be many..
Do try to get THAT through your thick skull.
The lyrics are….
Baje sargam har taraf se , goonje bankar desh raag…………….
OG writes ,”We are all making visible and invisible boundaries around us, whether it be religion or sect, state or even Nationality.”
OG has a simple list…..ah!well simple for some of us that is…and tough damn tough for those who talk of breaking up India.
Here’s OG’s list
So what can I do personally when India (friends, family and government) does not let me forget my caste and religion?
1. Treat one and all as Indians.
2. I will never follow any meaningless tradition just coz my ancestors followed the same.
3. Try to preach moderation in Thoughts and Actions.
4. Define for myself what Secularism means…..
1. Common civil code.
2. Government forms not asking for caste.
3. No special preference given to any group.
4. Ban on all religious parties.
5. Ban on all hartals and bandhs.
6. Deal with rioters with the strictest force using every single non fatal weapon available to us like the stun guns, lathis, rubber bullets. Let the police force use even the pepper spray, I couldn’t care less!!
7. Live and let live.
8. Secular and peaceful India where everyone is proud to be an Indian.
9. Never use words like Vote bank etc
10. Peace with Pakistan as that is very important for a peaceful India.
India is all the artists coming together to sing one song irrespective of their various ‘other’ identities.
India wants to stride ahead…surge like never before..go where no nation has gone before..
The issues of plurality and of choice are immensely relevant to the understanding and analysis of the idea of Indian identity. In arguing for an inclusionary form of Indian identity, Tagore or Gandhi did not deny the presence and contingent importance of other identities. Rather, in the context of political coherence, social living and cultural interactions, both emphasised the fact that the Indian identity could not favour any particular group over others within India. [link]
A friend had shared these lines here
We are liberation from 2000 years of injustice
We are the protector that was once the destroyer
We are the betrayer that was once the trusted
We are the chance to be free
We are still the darkest prison
We are the whole that we are part of
We are the whole that we are
We are the great provider
We are the great exploiter
We are that who divides
We are that who unites
We are peace
We are chaos
We are the passport
We are the army
We are democracy
We are an experiment
We are the great hope …
Do not kill this hope. Please.