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…