The Sense of Being Indian

by Soumya Gupta on August 15, 2013

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India, it is a puzzle of a million pieces. Sometimes they fit together and sometimes they just miss each other by a slight geographic or historical tampering around the edge.  India is the vibrant  folktale locked inside every historian. It is the ballad sung in the courts of Mauryas and Guptas.  India is the very beauty of the British Architecture that adorns Kolkatta.[a] It is the anomalies of French and Portuguese culture that brews in the cafes and clubs of Pondicherry and Goa. It is the friction which exists with the Chinese on the east and Pakistanis on the west and yet it is the peace which resonates with the harmony of South Asia.  It suffers from the stereotypes of western media and yet it enjoys the respect of western authors and poets. And this India is one of the many chapters an Indian studies , thus an Indian is the sense of graduating in few of the million myths, stereotypes, epitaphs , accolades and applauses awarded to India.
 
When my father was growing up, mathematics was the speed and accuracy of calculations, displayed in the oral recitations of multiplicative tables [ pahadas], and when I was growing up mathematics growled from the pages of R.D. Sharma and in the puzzles of Shakuntala Devi. When my father studied literature, he rehearsed the verses of Meghadoot and dohas of Kabir and when I grew up I lisped the passages from Shakespeare’s plays. Around those days of my Father’s childhood spent travelling in train, his one parcel always smelled of homemade pooris and achaar , and for me now the online orders for Dominoes and KFC is strewn on my debit card bills. He ventured into youth with the flair of freedom that Baja Scooter provided and while I took a refuge in the highest scores of Temple Run and Angry Birds. This change that marks his childhood and mine, these milestones which evolved from his time to mine and the things that followed is all a sense of being an Indian.
 
Not long ago Indian childhood was occupied with subscriptions of Reader’s digest and Chacha Chaudhary comics, not long ago we celebrated every day of the calendar and not long ago we enjoyed Ameen Sayani’s announcements on Radio. The mere thrill of India Pakistan cricket series was enough to block our evenings with tea in front of television sets in our living rooms. The arrival of Diwali offers was enough to invite us to the lure of markets. The winter freeze was enough to titillate our taste buds for fried pakodas and adrak ki chai.  These trivial things kept us together, these small acts made us share and these basic emotions allowed us some free time to ourselves. This was all the sense of being an Indian, for it got us where we are today and where we will march forward.
 
We collect tonnes of gold in our safes but we never forget to ask for extra dhaniya & mirch while buying our vegetables. We literally hog on love stories between feudal lords’ sons and daughters but our choice of marriage is still arranged. We reserve separate finances for various occasions of our life like fixed deposits for a daughter’s marriage, bank loans for buying houses. But we almost forget to separate finances when it comes to taking decisions about our career, we choose money first rather than what we really want to do. We are lost in the heroic deeds of past icons, and we are losing the iconic images we should create now.  We are a sum of contradictions, no wonder Tughlaq ruled us. We sometimes nullify the glories of past, no surprise that zero or nil was born here.
 
The sense of being an Indian echoes in the speech that is addressed every year on the Republic or Independence Day eve by the President, it is the salute that is embarked for every act of bravery by the nation and it is achievements that make to the headlines of International dailies. The Indian in me grew when I heard that before the world even saw the first Woman leader in 1970’S that is Margaret Thatcher, we already had started the process with appointing Sarojini Naidu as the INC chief in year 1925 followed by Nellie Sengupta in 1933. The Indian gene am so proud of, came from the realization that in spite of all 1991’s and the 2002’s, we are the land where at least three[b] of the new religious philosophies took birth [Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism]. But sometimes I am also disappointed with the kind of tales that make to the tabloids, like the Radia and Sand Mafia, the Mid Day meals and match fixing deals. Sometimes I am ashamed that every document that passes government office has the corruption stamp on it. I am disillusioned by the word democracy, because in spite of being a democratic republic, we are still ruled by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. We are still fixing the Indian Map , 66 years after our Independence. B.R. Ambedkar once said that after independence we won’t have anyone but ourselves to blame for the wrong, as we had lost the British by then. Are we ready to face our shortcomings and take responsibility of them or we are still looking for someone else to take the fall for us?
 
Don’t worry I am not a cynic neither am I a critic, all I want is for us to be aware. All I wish is little less ignorance and an ounce more of assertiveness of what we are and what we could be. Isn’t that the real sense of being an Indian? May this 15th of August we just don’t celebrate the Independence day, we celebrate “IN”- dependence day that is where we depend on ourselves rather than on west for progress. The doubleness of the digit six in the 66th year should mark the double efforts we will put towards celebrating the India and the Indian within us. Jai Hind.

Written by Soumya Gupta

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