India Bashing

There is a particularly hard hitting/nasty/insensitive (depends on the way you see it) editorial in one of the leading newspapers of America today focused mainly on criticizing Indian (political) ineptitude for the Mumbai episode. (You can read it here don’t miss the forum with the comments).

I am not in favour of the caste or religious politics in play in India right now. I am not in favour of mixing education with religion. For substituting science and geography with what is taught in the madarsas or in the little Hindu schools. I am not in favour of labelling places as “muslim areas” or talking in terms of “us” against “them”. But I defend my country for what it is.

Having been able to watch the American election and campaigns up close this year, and having seen a lot more of the world in the last year or so than I have in my life before, I can say with conviction that it is not as easy to govern in a country as diverse as ours as it seems to be. It is not easy to have a single mainstream and a single belief system. We are not united by a single language, or a single God or even a single dream. Perhaps the closest we come to in finding a single unifier is cricket.

It is time we looked at our leaders and asked ourselves why we chose them. Why do the local thugs have the power? Why is it that we have caste and religious politics? Could it be that in a country of as many voices as ours, we are scared that our own might not be heard? Could it be that right now, we find ourselves trying to find what defines us as a nation? Could it be that once we define what India stands for, no one will really feel that they don’t belong anymore?

I think if there is something that we need to learn, it is to stop being apologetic for our diversity. And if it’s something we need to accept, it’s the fact that we can never use the standard formulae for governance that seem to work so well in other parts of the world. It’s hard to find a balance between protecting the minorities and allowing them to hold us to ransom and making them acutely aware of being a minority. All extremes which we have visited.

I agree, it’s difficult to wipe away the effects of poverty and a poor education. It’s hard to stop people from being lured by money and the belief of doing something noble. But I think we’ve done a better job than a lot of other countries formed around the same time as ours (check here for a list).

I never for a moment defend the Indian Government for the way they have dealt with terrorism over the last few years. But having been in Hyderabad when the blasts took place I can say that the problems we face are a little more deep rooted than that.

What saddens me is not the attacks themselves as much as how we seem to have accepted them as a way of life. It saddens me that we celebrate that life goes on as before a day after the attacks are done and we see nothing change. We still do not go out and fight for our vote. No one joins the armed forces or the police driven by the need to change something. No one fights for better intelligence the way we fought for justice for Jessica Lall or for more reservations or against petrol price hikes. We are not new to the concept of protest. What saddens me is the fact that we do not protest. What saddens me is that we seem to have lost the war with terror even before we really fought… Perhaps, perhaps after Mumbai things will change…


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4 thoughts on “India Bashing”

  1. i agree when u talk about the reluctance from indian junta…however the examples that you have quoted about the fuel hike and reservations received mass support because they directly impacted individuals..and jessica lall case was media driven…

    The Taj incident must have affected few families and so the life for the rest of the country goes on as usual…

    This is sad…but that’s the reasoning for ur disappointment.

  2. Is this something new in India?
    Are we a race which believes too much in karma?

    Lets go back a bit into the past.
    Alexander and Rai Por (King porus): The king got defeated but his story is told as a story of hope, bravery just because he uttered the simple words “treat me like a king”. Does that make him a great leader because Alexander defeated him?

    Indians and the Persian invaders: What happened? We got trashed by a same person for god knows how many raids. Now we are told the story saying that India is so rich that he was able to raid us for 21 times.

    Indians and the British: Are we really so stupid that we didn’t realize their utmost motive. Do you think people are so stupid that they couldn’t realize what the British were doing? We waited for them to conquer us completely before things started moving ahead. What was the difference between then and now?

    Indians and terrorism: They are happening from quite some time and quite consistently this year. Every time it happens, we get agitated (in small pockets) and then go ahead. We blame the government and then move on. The government has screwed up badly (I agree with it). But Are we pressing the government to do enough ? Did we yet reach the threshold of doing something. Or will it be told as a story of Indians resilience to the later generations?

    I think Its time that some of us understand that we have been trampled enough in the history. It is good to be known as people with patience, endurance and a warm heart. But may be if we continue in this path, we will end up remaining only in other races stories. May be its time to understand what being an Indian is?

  3. I feel very sorry for Mumbai and what it has lost. Needless to say, I hate the terrorists and everything they stand for.

    But, when it comes to governance of our country, I do have just one question for all you readers … Does India Deserve Democracy?

    You may argue that democracy gives me right to write this response …

    But, I still pose this fundamental question … Do we Indians have the mentality of a democracy? We must realize that Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.

    So, when mad politicians run our government and not a firm stable benevolent single ruler, i sometimes wonder if we were ever made to rule ourselves.

    Well, enough philosophy for today… As a democracy, I completely agree that we forget its true value. Secularism and minority appeasement are poles apart in definition but unfortunately synonymous in Indian reality. In 1950 when we became a republic we called ourselves the Sovereign Democratic Republic of India. It is only by the 42nd Amendment of 1971 did our hypocrites in the government renamed us to Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic. In naming ourselves secular, providing no UCC, and appeasing minorities we have condemned India to vicious politics.

  4. I see two aspects here..

    The internal policy – how do you treat you minority population without appeasing them, but by empowering them.
    We can certainly do better here, but I agree with you, I am not apologetic to our diversity.

    The external policy – I agree with the WSJ article when it says ” Its failure to either charm or cow its Islamist-friendly neighbors — Pakistan and Bangladesh — reveals a limited grasp of statecraft.”
    We have not been firm enough in dealing with them.

    These two are related in a vicious cycle – the internal feuds ease the external threats, the effects of external attacks aggravates the internal mess…

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