Monday, April 23, 2007

Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani!

I love my country! More so than ever, every single day! The more I learn about her flaws, the more I love her. The more I learn about her strides in the world, the more I love her. Yes, I am an obsessive lover! Who cares! Its my country, I can do what I please!
India: The name sends a tingle through me everytime its mentioned. Call me a fanatic. I dont care. I love my country and all that it is and is not. Why? Why am I so obsessed with my country? She doesnt have the GDP of Americas, the roads of Europe, the efficiencies of Japan, the unilateral economic progress of China. Yet, why do I love my country?
I guess I love my country because we are the craziest country in the world! And those who know me know that I love craziness :)
More seriously, what is India all about? If one had to describe India in two words, what would they be?
Here are my two words,
A population of 1.1 Billion, 1/6th of the world's population, some of her cities are as populated as entire European nations!
A land where you see a dialect or language change every 100km
A land where you see the attire changing every 250km
A land of more than 2000 ethnic groups
A land that has representation from every major religion of the world
A land that has more than 200 distinct languages and more than 2000 dialects
Essentially a land of diversity that goes beyond anyone's comprehension!
A country of contrasts like none other. A country that has rampant poverty, illiteracy, hunger and homelessnes. Yet, a country that has made progress like none other in the world. Where would you find a country like this? A people like this?
It sends an electric wave down my spine to even think about this!
No doubt I am proud about my country. I am not whatever we are doing is the best. I am not saying we do not have to change. I am not saying we are getting everything right. No I am not.
But I am sayin, we have the ability to progress, we have the ability to pull ourselves back; we have the ability to change, we have the ability to hang onto 1000 year old norms; we have the ability to build a super computer, we have the ability to not finish construction of a 180 km road for 10 odd years.
Have you heard the song from the Shahrukh & Juhi Chawla movie, Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani? "Hum logon ko samajh sako to samjho dilbar jaani". That sing reflects the personality of our country pretty accurately.
BUT THE POINT IS, we are a country that is tolerant towards all this and more! We are a country that is accomodative of all this and more! For the better or for the worse we accept, accomodate and move on in our own uneven fashion. How else can you imagine the existence of a 6000 year old civilization in the same region?! We have neither expanded our boundaries significantly, nor shrunk our boundaries significantly. We are stagnant in size I can say, but the most dynamic in civilization.
The spiritual leaders we have given to the world are innumerable. Everyone of these spiritual leaders has preached peace to humanity. In an area of 1sq km, you will find atleast 3 different religions, 5 different languages and 15 different castes. We resist inter-caste marriages yet we celebrate each other festivals. We have different eating habits, yet we share sweets and savouries with each other. We con our rich tourists into paying more, yet we return their bags and purses if they leave them behind. We are as strange as strange can be, yet we act as one when the need arises. We have our own prejudices, biases and beliefs, but in a second we let them go and stand up for one another when faced with adversity. There is a sublime current of unity that flows through our diversity, that unites us together. The essense of this unity is RESPECT. Indians might not accept and agree with each other's religions, castes, practices and beliefs. But they respect them. They do not try to impose their beliefs and norms on the others. "Personal Space" is respected not at the usperficial physical level (where it is blatantly violated), but at the more sublime spiritual, religious, customary level.
RESPECT towards another is the essence of the TOLERANCE and ACCOMODATION that are the strength of India.
She has more than her fair share of double-headed politicians, corrupt bureaucrats, terrorists, criminals, negative elements. Try as they may to destabilize her, she is such a good shock absorber that she just swallow's everything and moves on like nothing ever happened. You might call it complacency, I call it thousands of years of learning. Learning that in the grand scheme of things, life is over and beyond these little occurences caused by a few Satans of the world. Godliness continues to exist. Its all part of the yin and yang of life. Life moves on and so does she and so do we.
We are Indians. The most complex to understand race in this world, yet the most simple race in the world.
A link that lists the 300 odd languages in India,
A link that gives the mind boggling demographics of India,

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