And no capital G please.
An uncle of mine, many years ago, entertained some scientists from abroad as part of his job. As they were leaving, when asked what they would remember most about India. Their answer, among other things, was that they were going back believing in god. Why, asked my uncle. Once we came here and saw how things work and how such few people work but so much actually gets done. There has to be a god, else this would never work.
That line stayed with me for a long time. And these days, I often catch myself saying how is this even possible? Things I see in the paper, observe elsewhere, small things like stray dogs searching for water on scorching days or public transport drivers not killing anyone in the face of such unorganised mayhem or traffic police and the sheer impatience in the world and how my mother is still holidng on to 27 year old grudge and so on…
The entire Naxal movement, as an example. I of course don’t know much about it, and it is largely based only on what I have read, which, I am certain, is one-sided. But I see the anarchy, the one-sidedness of news reports, read stories of how they conduct their own trials and have their own judicial and other civil systems in place, see the violence happening rt now in bengal and wonder if they even care that the country can see them on television, in this anarchy. How oppressed (this could be a wrong word) they must be to come to the point of not caring. There is so much that we don’t know, and don’t bother to find out. But India still moves forward, they say.
The north east, the state of Kashmir, other conflict-ridden states. the perennial and perpetual conflict there. One story occassionally leaks ‘out’ and the rest of India gets outraged. But what about their daily struggles? We don’t even hear about them. Journalists who go there come back with stories of constant oppression, rapes, humiliations and that’s just the beginning and at the hands of Indian soldiers. And we still move one.. progress even. Not in the least bothered.
It’s on every level — nationally where governments make or break on cash; on on a state level where a seven year old girls turn up dead and people fall over trying to hush it up; Or on a city level where four-day weekends are more important that coming out to elect your new government. Or on a surburb level where I am yet to see any road ever without any kind of digging happening — gas, phone, concreting, metro — for the last at least 10 years in Andheri, Mumbai. Or on a mohalla level, where an illegal temple has taken over one entire exit in my lane, and today boasts of a permanent structure for the temple, quarters to stay, and illegal electricity and water, which I am sure I am paying for.
Every day there is at least one story in one paper of some woman somewhere in India getting raped, molested or killed. One being reported for many others that are not. But we still have blinders on or are ruing that India lost out in the T20 World Cup. Stories of political murders, briberies, fudging of reports, granting accessibility to more slums, giving ministeries to non-performing party members — all are important stories but nothing moves us into moving off our collective butts. Crimes unpunished; undertrials whose lives are spent waiting; goons who claim to govern; rapidly depleting water tables and resources, increasing emissions, growing intolerance; accepting intolerance; when did we become so apathetic?
Just as I struggle to come out of this miasma and shake off this helpless-nes; I come across this paragraph in an article:
Indians have the political freedoms; now they need economic ones. The government needs to do less, so that its people can do more. India now has the consensus it needs. There is something noble about the faith and support millions of Indians continue to pose in their politicians. It is time they earned that trust, so that India can demonstrate that democracy and development are not mutually exclusive.
May be there is power somewhere else in the universe who helps us, because we certainly aren’t helping ourselves.