National Pride... And National Faults...

Of late, it has become fashionable to blame India, and Indians for its faults... by fellow Indians! This is a habit among the new generation, as well as among the older citizens of our lovely and diverse nation. That, by itself, is not harmful or indeed even irritating. It is essential that faults be identified and corrected for the overall betterment of everyone. But when this goes hand-in-hand with a denial of our good points, and of a denial to associate our heritage with pride... then it becomes funny and strange.

People are quick to point out all the list of areas where we went wrong: Kashmir, Mixed Economy, Corruption, Licence Raj etc etc, conveniently forgetting the real mistakes committed by us - which get hidden in the lovely long terms and powerful place-names above... mistakes like not concentrating on the village economy, on not building up the villages of India, of not building proper infrastructure in both Urban and Rural India, of not building a proper and functioning primary healthcare system that is trustworthy, of not building a robust and strong education backbone at the primary and secondary school levels, of not concentrating on controlling population growth! These are the mistakes that are hurting us the most today, not Kashmir  or the Mixed Economy. Only corruption from the first list is actually a serious enough issue alongside the items in the second list. These real problems have far-reaching consequences for us and for the economy; they dont have even a single mitigating circumstance - unlike the list above.

Kashmir? To that, we can state underhand tactics by Pakistan by sending guerillas; intervention in NWFP referendum - which could have gone to India given that it was a congress province; attempting to entice all kingdoms (which were not part of the partition plan) like Bhopal etc to join Pakistan and giving bribes and inducements to these kingdoms; inducing communal feelings in 1946 and 1947 by ML leadership; or that Kashmir is vital to national security etc. Mixed Economy? To that we can state that it helped build a robust public sector and protected the nascent private sector; allowed our economy to  mature and build skills; our distrust of capitalism just after independence; the fact that socialism was rising in those days; the fact that the Indian experiment was considered a novel and ideal one...

Point is that there were mitigating circumstances to the popularly held primary mistakes of our nation; or that there were advantages to be had from these so-called mistakes, or indeed some were strategic and tactical responses to external stimuli. But try and name one single mitigating circumstance or advantage from the second list. It will be hard to find even one! And yet, these mistakes are only talked about in editorial columns, In the public at large, they dont feature in the national consciousness. It is the second list that is really hurting the nation the most, actually holding us back from realising our potential. Education, Health, Mortality, Nutrition, Rate of Population Growth etc are the basic indicators of a nation; these are what are actually arresting our growth as our population is simply not in a position to benefit from opportunities...

These are what I call our failures, our real failures...

Despite these faults - and this is the central point of this article - we can be justifiably proud of what we have achieved as a nation, and of our heritage. Good points do not require justification or explanation; just the bullet points should suffice:

  • The oldest surviving unchanged civilization on Earth, with a history  - uninterrupted history - of 8000 years plus
  • The birthplace of more inventions and discoveries than I care to count, from the Zero to Ayurved and then some...
  • Our culture of inclusiveness and tolerance as well as our inherent non-violence
  • The art, culture and writing of countless poets and artists starting for Sanskrut onto Brajbhasha and the medieval poets right upto Rabindranath Tagore and modern artists
  • The land of Ashok, Vikramaditya, Harshvardhan, Akbar etc
These, and many more, and a part and parcel of our national identity. They are our history, they define what we are.  Why should we feel ashamed of shouting these from the rooftops? Forget about shouting, we dont even accept them in private one-on-one conversations!

 jab zero diya mere bharat ne, duniya ko tab ginatee aayee
taaro kee bhasha bharat ne, duniya ko pahale sikhalayee
deta naa dashamlav bharat toh, yu chaand pe jaanaa mushkil tha
dharatee aur chaand duree kaa, andaazaa lagaanaa mushkil tha
sabhyata jaha pahale aayee, pahale janamee hain jaha pe kala
apana bharat woh bharat hai, jiske pichhe sansaar chala
sansaar chala aur aage badha, yu aage badha badhata hee gaya
bhagwaan kare yeh aur badhe, badhata hee rahe aur fule fale

Why cant we just feel a simple feeling of justifiable pride on the above lines? Why the defensiveness? It is a simple psychological fact that a positive frame of mind is the driver of positive action; a nation with a negative self-image is certain to project a negative image in the world. Consider this: you have 2 teams in front of you from companies which have registered massive losses. Company A's team says "We goofed; we were stupid and paid the penalty for that. That is why sales are in the doldrum". Company B says "Yes, we made a mistake - but the important point is that we know we made a mistake. Given our history of success, I am sure, with time, we can turn it around". Which company would you back to succeed?

And, if we marry the above history with our recent successes, then we have justifiable reason to be immensely proud of ourselves and of our nation:
  • We are what we are - successes and failures both - because of our own efforts; at times without any help from anyone. There is no blood money or illicit gains involved from anyone; unlike the former colonial powers who are where they are today on an ocean of blood, and brutal exploitation of subjugated nations
  • Moving onto numbers, steady economic performance of most indices and parameters over the past 20 years
  • Robust Pharmaceutical, Information Technology, Advanced Medicine and Health, Education, Consumer Goods, Telecommunication, Space Technology, Missile Technology sectors
  • Robust Democracy
  • Social Equality experiment in full swing, as we try to undo the evils of casteism through reservation. Arguments aside, this is a novel intervention in equality that is being tried out
  • Independent Media
  • Strong Judiciary
  • Robust institutions 
  • Strong financial markets and Banking system, systems of procedures and regulators of various industries and sectors
And so on  and so forth...

Put the 2 lists together. I think, taken together, they are more than enough reason for us to feel a tremendous sense of pride as well as the confidence that, with time, we will make it... 

National pride is essential; it is a driver of achievement, And we have plenty to be proud of!

Jai Hind!

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