Just as every other day, I woke up, not to my mother's repeated high-decibel calling tone, but in reaction to the vibration of my mobile phone. The ‘good morning SMS’, I guessed. I would have been right for most other days. But this was not one of those ‘most’. The message said, "Let us celebrate our independence! Salute to all our leaders who laid down their lives, to get us our independent country. Happy Independence Day. Meraa Bharat Mahaan! I love my India."
I read it. I went back to bed.
It surprised me, that during the course of the day, my mobile was overloaded with similar messages. Everyone seemed to love their country.
I jumped into my mind’s own thinking valley again. Do I love my country? What is the ‘country’ that everyone seems to love? Who is it? And what exactly is lovable about it?
And for the first time, in many years I seemed to be lost. Lost between, moralities taught to me from the very beginning of my life, and my conscience. The judgment, as to what has a heavier deal of justification seemed a tough one to make. I tried answering these questions.
I ll get back to the first question.
Well, what exactly does the word ‘country’ stand for, when someone says, “I love my country.”
The soil? “Bharat ki Mitthi….” has been the most infectious dialogue of popular Hindi movies, of the 7th and 8th decades of the last century, in India. I don’t think I love the soil here. It is just as natural as the soil, in North America, or South Africa could be a different mixture of materials, but it remains, a natural resource. Not a stone more, not a stone less.
Is it the people? No. I definitely do not love people of India, in general. I think, their minds are closed books. Closed just after the Gandhi wrote his biography. I don’t think we are the greatest people. Science, politics, agriculture, health agriculture and everything. We cannot close our eyes, against the rest of the world, to claim that we are the best. In comparison to ‘what’ are we the best?
Yes, we are second only to China in population. We are better than Russia in pollution. We are amongst the top 30 most corrupt countries. We have more than eight times the number of deaths due to AIDS, than in China. We have recently faced one of the worst inflations the world has ever seen. And in spite of these
statistics, we force ourselves to believe, the people of India are one of the most wonderful people in the world. We certainly are wonderful!
We have the greatest culture! Yes, we do have a great culture. But I don’t think we have the greatest culture. I do not know which country has the greatest culture. I hardly even know how many places I will have to explore, in the quest for an answer. But, I am sure, I would. I would want to see a thousand places, and then say India is the best. But, my ignorance of other cultures leaves me handicapped, in stating that India has the greatest culture.
Our leaders! Ah! This was one of my favorite answers. Who are/ were these leaders and who did they lead? If you are still speaking about Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and others, it sounds strange to me. They certainly were influential people. But, why do u think, they lead us? Do they really lead us today? Their principles? I don’t think so. Their principles were properly made and set, for the time that existed a hundred years or so ago.
Not for today. If someone here is really ready to show his second cheek, on receiving a slap on one, he would certainly have the right of calling Gandhi a great man. The rest, do not. I do not. I do not consider simplicity ideal, like mahatma Gandhi did. I believe in complexity. I think abstraction is beautiful. I do not consider Gandhian principles suitable to me. I do not call him great. In fact, I lost my right of calling him great.
The non- alignment, that Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru designed for India that day, couldn’t survive beyond the several opportunities that shot up face-on on India, in the form of jobs, investments, technology, and science.
India is no longer isolated. We are dependent on each single other country for something or the other. And this dependency isn’t a disadvantage anymore. It is more symbiotic. It is mutual dependency. Therefore, “independence” today, isn’t of great importance. And, dependency doesn’t remain a negative.
The next most favorite answer, “All those leaders who gave their lives, for the country”. Well, whenever a community faces a challenge, people get together to fight. It takes strength, it takes money, it takes material, and it takes lives. The challenge of that day was fighting the foreign rule. But, can they serve as the right role models, for youth today. We have no battle to fight, greater than battles of financial freedom, and those of economic inequality. Getting the jobs we deserve to get, is the hornets’ nest today. Where are the role models? How do we be successful? How do we be independent?
There was this discussion on a popular channel on TV, where the elderly and the youth, interacted, rather debated as to who is more patriotic. The elderly people claimed that youth of today, hardly know what kind of patriotism youth of the older century had shown. They would sacrifice their life for their country. One question; where should I go and commit suicide, for India to get better? And then, I don’t think, you followed them either, because, I can see you are still alive! Tell me, I ll go and die. You come along, we shall die together.
“Do or die”, was their ideal for that day. “Just do it” is ours today! Death is not an option.
Work is. And it is the only option. Work better, to live to see a better future. Who cares, whether you want to live or die?
I am not blaming the whole generation above mine, to be ignorant to the ideas of today. There definitely are people I know of, who understand and appreciate our thoughts, when wise. But, I would definitely call it a flaw, on the part of the rest, to always keep their judgments biased, all because, they do not think us old enough to capably decide.
And, if they 'got' us our Independence... I have my arguments here too.
What is this independence?
I don’t consider myself independent today.
I cannot buy the latest mobile model I just fell in love with. I am financially insecure. No independence.
I cannot go out of the house, anytime after 10 in the night, because I am unsafe. No independence.
I cannot talk to my friends on the road, because my neighbors consider it immoral, and would complain to my mother, who would be embarrassed. No independence.
I cannot take up a part time job because, my family feels it would be an offence to them. An indication that they do not fulfill their duty of supporting me. No Independence.
I cannot like Christian principles, because I am Hindu. No Independence.
I am 18, but I am judged as ‘too young’ to take decisions, only because I am the youngest in the family.
I cannot afford to ‘not love’ my country, because, people would think I would dirtily fail in my duty towards my nation. No Independence.
So, where is the independence?!
We find it difficult to accept that, if today, we are independent in any sense, it is politically. And that too, politically free from other countries. But, are we absolutely free? No, we aren’t. Corruption kills each individual, at some level or the other. We are taught to get influenced. Our leaders influence. We are bound.
And, that discussion on TV, I was talking about, there was this elderly person, who said, “youth today, love only rock music and the western kinds, no one is a true patriot. It is not about speaking in front of the media once in a year, about celebrating Independence Day, it is about realizing India in every sense.”
Youth who participated there, had no answer. I have. My readers must feel more than free, to judge me wrong, in the case that they think so.
I have a question again. What do u think is more primitive? India? Or Music? Which one is more divine?
India could just be one name that was used to bind people together, when there was need for unity. India would always have existed, even without that name. People would have lived, generations would have passed. Just, as people have existed in any other parts of the world. There isn’t any extra magnetic energy that makes India the place of the royals!
We can, nevertheless, keep dreaming on, that we are special, and let the world of reality look at us, laugh and progress.
But, music is too divine, to be compared to a mass of people. Music is Godly. It is stupidity on the part of anyone, to hold a country’s name, as a barrier against the waves of music.
I listen to Rock music, because, I like it. I love western musical instruments. I like it better than Indian music. So what now? How does it make me a failure in my duty towards the country and a victim of such filmy absurdity?
I guess I have that much right to feel it, in “independent” India.
It is the same with language. Language lived long before, India lived. Even English. I am not speaking against everything that is Indian. But, I am sure; I would never force myself to love something that is Indian, just for the heck of it. I love English. I consider it my mother tongue. It is because; I am more comfortable using it than I am with any other language. Not because, I am an anti-Indian. In fact, this has nothing to do with my Indian-ness. It is a personal choice.
Does, India allow one, personal choices?
Another friend says, he loves India because, he always belonged here.
I tried thinking on this line too. Do I belong here? I found no reason I should, better than, that I was born here, 20 years back. Does taking birth here, satisfy everything that you need to belong?
Yes! In the sense that, that is how people of the world recognize you. Your nationality. But, is this true belongingness? I don’t think so. To belong to a place, one needs to be in love with it, its environment and everything about it. India around me doesn’t satisfy this need of mine. I might be an Indian, because I was born here. I am not an Indian because my soul belongs to this place. I do not fit in here.
Immediately, he asks, “So, where priyanka, do you think you belong?”
I said I didn’t know.
I really don’t know. I ll know the place, when I see it. And I haven’t seen it yet. But that doesn’t compel me to love whatever I ve seen. I can afford to wait. And I will. It is not necessary for me to love something for the sake of it.
Now, I found an answer to my first question.
No, I do not yet love India. Today, this country isn’t good enough to win my love. I might love it someday. I might love some other country I d travel to. And might belong to it. I am not sure. But, India, the way it is. I do not love it.
Well, if people still think it immoral of me not to love India, as always, I am not begging for pardon. Neither am I trying to prove myself right. I am not defending myself. I don’t need to. I consider myself independent. I do not depend on anyone for judging what I think. I am free. I hope you understand what I mean. I do not expect anything more.
Happy Independence Day!