Wednesday, 8 January 2014

INDIA: TIME TO FACE THE REALITY - 1

In many ways, as a nation, we are living in a never-never land, and dreaming of a situation that is untenable in reality. As a nation, it is high time we faced upto some uncomfortable truths about ourselves, our attitudes, our motives and that of the world around us. We can no longer continue to live in the same delusions that have characterized us and our approach any longer. In the first part of this article, I shall dwell only on some peripheral matters, subsequently taking up more complicated and central matters in the later parts of this series. This is a first article in an attempt to make myself, and as many of my countrymen as I can reach, face the realities of us as a people and as a nation. At the outset, let me be clear who I mean by “us” in this article : I am specifically referring to Indian Citizens only, not PIOs. Not only that, I am referring only to the English-educated, top few percent of the population, who are largely in a blissful never-never land.

The diplomat case that is currently the rage in Media has exposed a deep fault line within ourselves – one that we need to confront for our own sakes. As I observed in the previous article on my blog, for  the first time I was able to notice a clear cleavage between the online discourse, and the Media coverage / word on the streets. This is a most interesting phenomenon – for previously, everyone would be in tandem on issues; but not this time. And a close observation of the comments from the public on social media has given me a glimmer of an insight, which is stated below. 

First, and rather inconsequentially, is the Indian tendency to create a hype around the USA, which is driven by various factors. While I don’t profess to understand all of these factors, a few of them are self-evident – and all of these are uncomfortable. The USA remains the THE nation, and a dream to be dreamt, an ideal to be followed and a friend to be cherished. This is despite clear and present evidence – irrefutable evidence – that the USA wasn’t, isn’t and will, in all likelihood, never be a friend, as I took pains to point out in the previous article. This is also despite it being common knowledge that no one has till date befriended the USA, and benefited from it.

 High time India woke up to the reality – the difference in treatment of the Russian Diplomats (Both cases) and this case drives home a stark and naked reality: the USA does not care about India. Its continued refusal to backtrack also flies in the face of its stated intentions of taking the relationship forward, and protecting the 90-Billion-Dollar trade. Quite simply, they do not care. High time India woke up to this – or rather, high time the English-educated, top 3% intelligentsia in India faced upto this stark reality. If the USA cared, this would not have happened at all – regardless of the guilt of the diplomat. And, once it happened, it would have been sorted out by now. 

The inability of a large number of educated Indians to see the larger ramifications of this case is a pointer to 2 deep faultlines within ourselves judging by the reactions of PIOs and NRIs. The first is the penchant of ourselves and our media to treat India as the caretaker of the Aryan Civilization, of the Hindu Civilization. High time India faced upto this fact – and accepted that we are no longer the caretaker of anything or anyone. We are not a Hindu Nation; we are a secular democracy. Why should a success by a person who has visited India barely a couple of times, or indeed perhaps never, be highlighted in the media? Why should we, as a people, pay any attention to what an American or a British Citizen does or achieves, regardless of this person’s ethnicity? 

This person is not an Indian; he or she owes allegiance to their country- which, in some cases,  they have opted for, forgetting and foregoing their Indian nationality. Let us accept that reality. The bonds of culture will automatically ensure a tie, and a relationship. Let us engage with them for mutual economic benefit, given that they are of the same high-context culture, and share a common history - but draw the line there. That does not mean we as a people attach undue significance to their achievements. Let them be; they have their own nation – USA, or UK, or whatever. They have taken a pledge to be true to that nation; so be it. I wish them all the luck. I would rather focus my time and energy on achievements by Indian Citizens, regardless of whether this person is a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian or a Sikh. High time we Indians stopped focusing on what American Citizens, British Citizens or European Citizens are doing – and devote that media space, that time and that energy to our own people – people who continue to hold an Indian Passport, wherever they reside. It is time to confront this tacit fundamentalism and cultural complex we have. 

The second deep fault line is applicable, in the true sense of the term, to all Indians – but it is most felt in the creamy layer – which I am addressing in this article. And that is the level of frustration that is being felt at the bureaucracy and at corruption in general.  A large number of Indians, in their social media comments, took pains to point out the controversies that have dogged the diplomat in this case, while completely skipping the larger picture - one that was well covered with a balanced coverage in the Media. Despite this, people just could not see beyond the case, completely ignoring all the other factors and completely valid concerns raised by the Diplomat and the GOI. This is indicative of a deep and well-founded, justified anger at the frustration being felt by the educated Indian.

This is a good and timely sign of a very positive development; it is a known fact that corruption is one of the key problems facing India. And that is why I respect the viewpoints of people who made observations basis individual facts in this case (howsoever inaccurate they may be), rather than the larger aspects of diplomacy and international relations. The reason why this particular instance is so significant is that, in this case, the national viewpoint was subjugated to the individual merits of the case – which is an indicator to the level of frustration in the people. Educated India has, at last, woken up. May this trend continue in the new year 2014 with greater emphasis and speed!


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