This is my first post after more than a fortnight, and the reason is not CAT. It is something else, something I have experienced for only the first time. The reason in Writers Block. I finally came to know about this phenomenon, and I am finally feeling today that I have managed a way out of it. I have been planning to write about the problems plauging India for the past 15 days, and during this period, have tried out different beginnings, and have reached a deadend. Probably this topic is something on which there is plenty to write, and yet, so many things have been written, that there is little left to try. And this has been the main cause of my block. After writing a few lines, the things I wrote seemed so cliche, that I could not write anymore. But now, I guess I am going to start off a new debate about the very essence of India.
The biggest problem facing India is not illiteracy; nor is it over-population. And I wont even accord corruption or sender inequality that dubious honour. Not even communalism or casteism or reservations, for that matter. These are big problems, no doubt, but there is something more that is a bigger problem. Its a problem that plagues every one of us, and it is something that is not talked about in the media; just because the media either actually cannot see it, or because it refuses to accept its existence. I personally believe the second one is the case because this is something highly controversial, and I feel that I am the first one to write about it, which leads me to believe that any "patriotic" Indian would be ready to issue a fatwa like command against me.
The biggest problem facing India is that even after 58 years of independence, and 56 years as a republic, India remains a country consisting of immature people. We still have to grow up as a nation. While we can get very excited about cricket, Information Technology boom, Nuclear tests, Godhra, assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi; the same type of agitation is missing when a girl is raped in daylight in the streets of India's most cosmopolitan city, when the city capital is bombed, or when the "paradise on earth" is repeatedly attacked by terrorists. While we have a rising Middle Class enjoying the benefits of outsourcing, eating at McDonalds and drinking at Baristas; we also have a Middle Class that is going down because it is unable to compete with the outside world. While we accept the virtues of globalisation and the emergence of India as a new Superpower, we fail to see where India is lacking. We still dont have capable leaders to lead the country; capable bureaucrats to run it, and proud, patriotic nationals to be its citizens. Patriotism? Surely, I am wrong; atleast here. There is no dearth of patriots in this country. People talk with such passion about India, that you will almost be fooled to believe that they can do their utmost for the country. Take cricket, for instance. Whenever a cricket match is on, one billion prayers rise up in unison for Sachin Tendulkar. But when it comes to actually do something worthwhile for India, and these billion prayers, like me, will come up cropper. I had, and I guess so would most of you, rather pay the policeman Rs. 100 for a traffic violation than get a slip of Rs. 500. And I sense a patriot in all of you. What shallow patriotism!! I still have friends, educated from IIT, like myself, who hold such narrow views on communalism and gender equality, that it puts all thoughts about education and broadening of horizons to rest. The problem with India is that nothing real or concrete is done for India. We have very poor knowledge about India itself. How many of us, for instance, know that the per capita grain production in the country is at its lowest levels since the Bengal Famine of 1941. (Roll your eyes in disbelief, that is what I did, when I heard it, but that is how it is.) Or that, which are the states that face Naxalite trouble or what do the naxalites demand. I doubt anyone reading this blog does. (If you do, do leave a comment. I will like to share it with the others). Everyone wants someone else to lead the charge for bringing about a change in India, and in the end noone does it.
Now, well, I am going to do something even worse : I am going to question the very ethos of India. The name India, just like the term Hindu (from which the term Hindustan branches out), has been derived from Sindhu or Indus, which does not even run in India now. (The small part that does, has been claimed, either by China or Pakistan). And India is a very Anglicized name, triggering memories of the Indus Valley Civilisation around 5000 years ago. And that civisation was hardly Indian, as most of Indian cultures today derive from the Aryans, who ironically, were the destroyers of one of the most peaceful civilisations ever. And most of Indus Valley sites today are in Pakistan now, another irony. The name India refers to is actually Bharat. And Bharat is a very very old concept, running back to atleast 1000 years before Christ. (If there actually was a Bharat, a mythical king who has been said to unite the entire Indian sub-continent under him). And then Bharat broke up, and India for most part, was a region of many states, at war with one other. There were moments of unity sometimes though, when powerful Kings, like the Guptas and the Great Mughals were able to conquer large lands under their control. But, inevitably these empires broke down due to religious forces taking ground.
The concept of India as a nation only grew with the advent of the British rule, who preferred ruling the entire sub-continent as one entity : India. They say the British followed the policy of Divide and Rule, but I guess that was hardly necessary: Indians were always divided. The British rule is notable for creating India more than anything else. (India's two mythologies illustrate the divisons that run deep within the country: One tells of the rift between first cousins, while the other is a story made possible because of one queen's distrust of the other. And when, India got independence, the entire country celebrated the ousting of the British. India was a nation, a model of unity in diversity. Perhaps one of the only nations to have been bounded by alien rule. But since then, the factors of division that allowed the British to rule India are back. It started with the opposition to Hindi in the 1950's and it continues today, with the Naxalite movement in Central and Eastern India, the seccesionist movement in the North East, and terrorism activities in Kashmir. There are regional parties, communal parties, and casteist parties. These parties influence the psyche of the naive Indian, and hence manage to create popularity of their own agenda, which can be summed up thus: to work within the constitution of India, or even outside it, to bring about a peaceful , or violent, and gradual seccesion of their own community, region, caste from the state of India. Maybe today India is falling apart, and some people, within India are responsible for it. Indians have always been culpable, falling to people's words of hatred. (Remember Duryodhana falling prey to Shakuni's words, and Kakeyi heeding Mantara's ill advise?). And what is more : these people succeed. A Bengali in the USA feels closer to a Bangladeshi than a Punjabi, while a Tamil is happier chitchatting with a SriLankan. India as a nation has a long way to go, before it can become a superpower. India has to become a nation first. That accomplished, and nothing can stop India. And for that you, and I, will have to start changing ourselves. Like an old saying goes, a man's first duty is towards his country, then his society, then his family and then towards himself. At the moment, the reverse happens. The moment we accomplish this saying, India will become a nation. And a superpower.