Do you want to stay in India?
I have often asked myself this question and I have never got a single answer to it. But with time, it seems, my confusion is getting resolved.
Let me start with where I come from. I come from a small village in Himachal Pradesh, which does not even have a post office. I received my education in one of the remotest schools of the country. And I am both happy and proud about that. Which means you cannot dismiss me by saying I represent an elite liberal class that only barks in television studios. Also, I have closely followed Indian politics but never supported one political party. I like both Nehru and Modi. I appreciate the courage of Smriti Irani and the eloquence of Shashi Tharoor. This is what makes India beautiful, isn’t it?
So why does a person want to live (or not live) in his or her own country? Yes, there will always be love for the motherland. But with increasing job opportunities, most of us end up living outside our hometowns. And since India is such a diverse country, someone like me often feels like a foreigner while travelling in other states.
Is it the economy that determines whether a citizen would want to stay in a country or not? Not really. They may go outside for jobs, but eventually they will come back or at least would want to come back, once they have money. The same is true for country’s infrastructure, public facilities and overall growth rates.
Then government? That would be an absurd thing to do. One, because governments keep changing and all you have to do is to wait for five years to get to the other side, and two, because the government’s interference in our daily lives is very little. Which leads us to people, or as we should call it, society.
When we talk about India, one mistake that we often make is the generalisation of India. While there are many Indias and there are many truths about them, one of the things I have often noticed is that an average person has to bear many frustrations in his or her everyday life. This is particularly true for urban India (which is where our discussion finds an existence), where the diversity comes together and more people, particularly educated ones share their ideas.
When I walk out of my house in the morning, the first thing I see is, someone spitting on the road. Immediately I get surrounded by all sorts of vehicles honking pompously and driving recklessly. I prefer to use public transport and I encourage others too. But my idealism soon gets knocked when the fellow passengers begin to push me and crush my toes with their branded shoes. When I walk on the roads, I worry about the pollution and wonder what we are doing about it. I go to a grocery store and find that no one is following the queue. When I am sick, I go to a public hospital, only to find that the probability of death is higher than the probability of seeing a doctor. What should I do about it, I wonder, file an RTI? I have been to a police station multiple times, but I still don’t know what an FIR looks like. I still don’t know what it feels like, to get my work done in a government office without offering a bribe.
This is India and these are the real problems a common Indian faces.
I don’t remember the last time, when I went out with my mother, sister or a female companion, and did not get stared at.
I don’t understand the reason why our governments can spend crores of rupees on a ground to showcase Resurgent Rajasthan but cannot build a few toilets worth few lakhs, for those who relieve themselves there every morning.
I don’t enjoy the fact that the rice I am eating, was cropped by a farmer, who is probably thinking of suicide at this very moment. We have worse problems, but all we care about is beef, Azam Khan’s statements and a cricket match with Pakistan.
I don’t understand why everyone keeps asking me my religion and caste, but gets angry when I question their belief system. Congressis hate BJPians, and the feeling is mutual. How can our government help our country when it does not like certain section of the country which does not support its political ideology. And I am not talking about this government, but every government both in states as well as at the centre. The sad thing is, instead of caring for the entire nation, our governments care too much about their respective political parties.
Even today, when there is a time to take a stance against the growing intolerance, I expect little or nothing from the government. Just like the opposition is busy criticising every action of the government, the ruling party is busy justifying all their deeds and misdeeds.
I don’t digest the fact that people can actually chant Bharat Mata Ki Jai and kill a human being at the same time. This heightened (and misguided) sense of patriotism, where people say they love India but not Indians, scares me. They abuse, hurt and even kill other people in the name of patriotism. I don’t get it, trust me, I don’t…
At this point, you might say – oh, you have a problem with this country, why don’t you fix it? I do sir/mam, I do it all the time. I tell everyone around me to do good things, and I keep a check on my actions too. But you know what, not all of us are social activists. We cannot do it all the time. Some of us just want to be a teacher, a sportsman, an actor, or a software engineer. Some of us just want good lives for ourselves. We do not expect too much from this country, only love and peace. And if that is disrupted, I don’t know what else to do, but leave.
PS: I want nothing for myself, but only that when I look around I see happy faces. Is it too much to ask?