I woke up this morning and felt the urge to rant. Ok, I actually felt the urge to eat pani puri. But then I logged into my Facebook and there was a notification which said I hadn’t posted on my blog for a really long time. That’s because I’m lazy.
I wondered what I should write about though. So, two coffees down I settled on the upcoming Independence Day. Why? Because what better way to get some likes and love? Let’s be honest, you may have all the Independence you want, but you’ll always be a slave to social media. Also I wanted to say what I have to say before the patriotic movies start playing on the telly. Let’s face it, if Rang De Basanti, Swades and Lakshya are playing on the T.V screen in one day, even those not easily swayed by emotions amongst us will want to make love to the National Flag, with ‘Mere desh ki dharti’, playing as the background score. (I assume, THAT’s allowed?)
So, here goes: I love my country. I really do. I’m proud of our heritage and culture (within reasonable limits :P) and I do think we have a kickass history. I try playing my part in my own small way by being a good citizen. I try to do good work, be politically aware, follow the laws of the land, vote and speak up when I feel like something needs to be said. I think that’s the bare minimum you can do and people should try doing that much at least. But in all honesty, I would have done the same, say, had I been born in the US, or in Australia, or anywhere else.
Your nationality, more than anything, is a lottery of birth. And that is why I don’t believe in patriotic fervour. Love and respect are good. But the kind of fervour that makes you blind towards the failings of your state, the kind of fervour that leads you to lose objectivity, that kind of fervour is not just unnecessary, it is also stupid.
We have come a long way these 68 years. But we are an incredibly flawed, fucked up nation. With incredibly flawed, fucked up people. Some days, when I wake up and read the news, I feel miserable. We are not the greatest nation on the planet and we won’t be one, unless we recognise that. The first step towards fixing a problem is accepting you have one, right?
Here’s something I often go back to when I have my doubts:
Mahatma Gandhi met Lord Bevin, the personal emissary of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in Delhi. Beven is reported to have told him, ”Eighteen languages, 500 dialects, some 30 religions, a million Gods and Goddesses, 300 million individuals, an infinity of castes and sub castes, and a population (that is) practically illiterate and half of which (are) beggars or thieves… Good luck, sir! Such a nation is ungovernable! It’d take you centuries to get anywhere!”. Gandhiji wrapped his large, white shawl a little more closely around him, and modestly replied, ‘India has eternity before her..