Republic day is around the corner, everybody brace themselves for the "I love India, India is the greatest and proud to be Indian Posts on Facebook. I will be one of them too I guess, because I do love India. But am I proud to be an Indian? No, I am not. And I will tell you why.
So everybody with a computer and an internet connection is an activist now, protesting what happened in Delhi. I did my share too. After all that’s about all we do. We are passive, regressive and accustoming. But that’s not what bothers me now. I know the reality and like every other problem we face, I am used to it, has given up on it, my reactions intermitted with despair, anger, shock, disregard and hope. Pardon me if I sound demented but I am more bothered about the patriarchal system that is thriving on a victimizing and vicious rape culture. I am more bothered of a cultural system where there is a hue and cry questioning the raped as much as the rapist.
I won’t lie. I am not really proud to be a part of this country anymore. I am patriotic, don't get me wrong. But I don’t feel any pride in saying I am an Indian, not when this is a place where a woman needs to live in perpetual fear of murder, rape, humiliation. And this did not happen with a Delhi incident or a Mumbai incident. This did not happen because I was horrified reading brutal details of what a woman had to go through for no fault of hers. This has been happening to me for a long time, progressively making me realize how there is nothing much to be proud about.
Every day I see people sharing one patriotic meme or the other, stating how we have a unique culture, how our traditions are the best and how we are super good in everything. We have a diverse culture, we have more languages than most continents do and we have more art forms per capita than anybody else. We are a country formed from about 200 states, each one of them having individuality and identity and a separate culture. We are a cocktail of so many flavors and types, heady but not hard. But is that what we are proud of? A phony sense of pride where we have done nothing to deserve the right to be proud. So Indians discovered the number zero thousands of years ago. Big step, no doubt, but why are you and I proud of it? Did we do anything towards it? Did we do anything to make it better?
We have a society and culture where everyday life is a battle for any woman. Should we be proud of that? We have the caste system, one of the most heinous divisional system in this world. Should we be proud of this unique system too? We have a dowry practice where those who can’t afford it suffers and those who can, brags about it. Men and women are all in this one. Our ancestors developed the dowry system, shouldn’t we all feel a little bit of pride? Corruption is no longer a crime, it’s a way of life. And every single one of us has done their part in this. Shouldnt we all be proudly corrupt.
One third of our population lives under poverty line ( A really lenient measure by any standards). Yet we are proud about our booming economy. Child sexual harassment is rampant and Female Foeticide is high. Corporal punishments of children result in trauma and even death. And we are proud of how well we bring up our children. Our country has very low hygiene standards and high intensity of pollution. Our deforestation rates are worrying yet we talk about loving mother India. Our health system is a farce and yet we celebrate when somebody from US or Eruope comes here for cheap medicines, because hey thats how we measure our success.
Illiteracy is shocking. Our educational system is an industry to manufacture below par graduates. Yet we are proud of the number of Engineers we churn out every year. Despite a very low percentage making it to the top. We don’t make inventions, we don’t excel in sports, we don’t win patents, we don’t own copyrights. We don’t win Nobel prizes or Oscars. We have a population problem that can’t be tackled because some religious leaders don’t like the idea. We have people dying of starvation while being the most promising market for luxury cars. We have an income disparity that is alarming. We have a crime rate that is cringe worthy.
And yet you are proud because we had Indus valley civilization. Because of Taj Mahal and Qutub Minar. Because of Mahabharatha and Ramayana. But are we really deserving to be proud of ourselves, Indians?
It is about time we started facing the reality. If you want to be proud of this country, earn the right to be. Stop sharing how Indian national anthem won a non-existing UNESCO award. Stop claiming how you are proud of this or that. Our culture, is us. It’s how we live, how we think and how we act. Nothing to be proud of it at this point in time. We are not a great country by default. We can be great, only if we make it to be. We have a great past, but that was so long ago, let’s start living in the present where we are heading into no greatness.
I don’t mean to offend anybody’s patriotic feeling by this. But the longer we sit back and feel good about things that were of the past, of meager achievements we are not going to get anywhere. The longer we live under this phony sense of pride, the longer we are stuck in this place. We need to face the fact, our culture is not superior, nor is our country. In fact there are a million ways to improve us, so let us do that. Let us make our culture superior, let us make our country the greatest and let us all make this a safe place for men, women, children, rich, poor and all. Let us earn the right to be proud.
- - A Patriotic but disillusioned and ashamed Indian.