Sunday, August 15, 2010

64 Years After the Birth Pangs

I came back with C a little while ago from Ootty, to where we went on Friday last. We were in fact guests there of a couple close to us. And all of us together spent the week end at the Club Mahindra resort in Ootty.
Ideally was not a right time to wage with a free mind in leisurely activities. But we went because we decided that we needed a break from the quagmire, and to heedfully engage with some friends.
The Resort management announced yesterday evening that they planned to commemorate the I- day at 8 this morning. Though I as usual was up at 6, cared more to stay indoors and watch the prime minister at the Red Fort. I dislike rituals for ritual sake. C went out to join the motley group of weekenders at the hoisting of the national flag on the forecourt of the hotel.

I watched on TV the prime minister speak, and the various elite assembled .Faces that one would wish was not seen in public life in our country, and dignitaries who were only present in body so as to take care of the niceties of diplomatic necessities were being picked up on and on by the camera.At the end of his speech and the customary 'jai hind',the national anthem was played. And honestly I could not help my eyes moisten as it always does when the anthem is played.

I dislike and feel mocked at when I start receiving SMSs with conspicuous Independence Day wishes and congratulations. That ritual began soon enough. I love my country; Bharath mahan; Swatantriya dhina ashamsakal; Bhartah matha ki jai; the wishes were quite a few. I do not wish to deprecate the peoples intend and the mind that triggered those messages. But in general, (that counts me as well), Indians are quite adept at rituals and observing certain commemorations in letter but not in spirit. Come August 15 th we go flag-waving with patriotic fervour and by late evening on the day we forget and move on as things did not matter.
Come August 15 th we see and hear words and eloquence in praise of the motherland, and showering   encomiums on her and vaunt where we stand amongst the comity of nations. We recall the historical facts that are truly audacious and unique to India as a land of achievements in science, sociology, jurisprudence, medicine, mathematics and philosophy. The distinctly enviable status India held because of the true spirit, sacrifice, insatiable urge for knowledge and far sighted vision our fore fathers displayed centuries ago , and the glorious and magnificent intellectual and spiritual tradition of the great land are flaunted and reminded  by all and sundry. We beat our chest and yell “vande mataram” .Our hyperbole for all that was and that are because of all that our forefathers and ancestors were!

But should we not reflect, go inward and introspect what we have done, what we have given to the land we remember once a year and yet utter the salutation “vande mataram”? Do we deserve the privilege and honour to be the inheritors of heirlooms as rich and envious in tradition and culture? Do we rightfully deserve by merit of our deeds to have been born in India and thereby be known as Indians? Are we not lauding and enjoying the respect we have because what our fore fathers where?
In every country and society that have suffered the despicability of negation and war when we reach out as an Indian we are welcomed as being from the land of Mahatma, and the land that offered to the world treatise of spiritual and philosophical excellence. If an Indian go to the land of strife, Israel, he will be identified as from a country that gave safe haven for the perennially persecuted Jews of the early millennium,( the only land in the world that the Jews where free and secure was in Kerala).The learned in any Muslim country in the Middle East will recall that it was in India that the first Muslim Mosque was built not after strife, but from the munificence of the culture of the land that welcomed and imbibed foreign traditions and people,( the Cheraman Mosque in Kodungalloor , Kerala).These are just a few examples.

The introspection will have to go deeper. We who call this land our mother have raped and pillaged her out of avarice. We have dispossessed her children. If that is untrue how could we explain the threatening sphere of the Maoist actions that have now even by official acknowledgement encompassed one third of the country? The dispossessed are standing up and in a violent virulent way. A recent NGO/UN and very impartial study has identified states like Bihar and Orissa as poorer than the worst in Sub Saharan Africa. This is sixty four years after shedding what we call yoke of imperialism. India shining indeed! With the well camouflaged slight we have mauled nature and the people in many parts of this land. The Narmada Sarovar is just one of the glaring examples. We have created everlasting and festering communal divide by concocting a false alibi for/of the birth place of a mythical Hindu King and destroyed a place of worship of the Muslims. This we did while we let go hundreds of ancient Siva temples in the valley of Narmada go under water with the environmental and social consequence of the Narmada dam.

India, as per UN studies have a third of the worlds poorest. India ranks 134 in the list of 182 countries in Human development index. India’s child mortality rate is worse than Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. India accounts for one fifth of all new born deaths. Potable water is still a distant dream both in the rural areas and even in many cities. Remember, this is after almost two decades of admirable economic growth. Not surprisingly these figures are not same within all India. Regional, social disparities are high among tribal, economically neglected and communally minor segments. Even by official estimate more than twenty million female foeticide and infanticide have happened in India over the past two decades. What kinds of freedom will these neglected and marginalised sections which account for forty percent of the population see to celebrate and revel? Our position has gone down to 85 from 72 in the corruption and integrity list index.

I have touched only the few of the basics that will tell the greatness of a nation. True we have sent space craft’s to the moon, have stock pile of nuclear arsenal, express motorways and sky scrapers have dotted our cities and sky line. We have Industrial and business houses that have consistently been entrenched in ethics and principles, and business men who have used and manipulated the system to reach the top of the world.
But as Rabindarnath Tagore wrote in Gitanjali

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up
into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by.... Into ever-widening thought and action---
Into that heaven of freedom ... let my country......

Can we on this 64 th Independence Day truthfully say that we have realised or we are striving towards the realisation of the dreams contained in the above verse? Can we truthfully say that we   rightfully can claim to the rich past of this land?
If we truthfully can say “ye”, yes then we shall celebrate the Independence from imperialism.


sujata said...

I am definite and optimistic about the youth of India. It was our generation that faltered, and lost its way. Happy Independence Day to you.

Insignia said...

When we talked about the sad reality, people say dont crib, see what we have achieved all these years instead of complaining!

But what we have achieved with such vast natural resources, excellent human resource, talents and skills are not enough.

We become so patriotic on this one day, send lousy messages, sing the anthem, watch the PM's address to the nation and forget everything. To be frank, its another independence day yet again.

Its One-day Mataram.

anilkurup said...


You are right.We judge where we stand as a nation , and we claim our achievements as a country out of jingoistic and super patriotic fervour which suddenly erupts on August 15 th every year and fades away by the evening same day.
Sending missiles and rockets beyond the stratosphere and flexing our military might are not the bench mark of Independence or achievements.Are we free from hunger?How many millions in this country go without food each day?How many children die young and are malnourished that they barely see beyond childhood? How many millions have to live with out shelter and clothing? How many Indians have to live without even the basic amenities that will give you the barest self respect.? How many women are raped and outraged while the perpetrators go scot free? How many female foeticide?How many honour killings? How much of our national wealth is pillaged and robbed by corruption? And how many of us stand mute spectators to all this and even encourage corruption and plunder?How many of us are not prejudiced against other faith , religion and caste? Don t most of us identify us first as Hindu, Christian ,Keralite, Tamil etc and not as Indians?
Dont we drive our own people from their land and grab their land for big business?

Will all those who speak for the independent India achievements explain this first and solemnly look if we are truly independent.
The British left but are we free????

anilkurup said...

Thanks for the comment. And may your optimism be realised.Happy I- day
And hope is only if one can stay never say die optimist. I'm trying in this case.

A New Beginning said...

The time will come when India would leap towards a better tomorrow.
Thanks for the well written post Anil...we cant make others do what's good for our country but we can definately start doing something!
Happy Independence day to you!

The Holy Lama said...

I have been reading you for a while and this post was a different stroke. Freedom has to be celebrated and enjoyed with flags , speeches and parade. Only once you lose even a day's freedom will you value it. I think I'm with C whoever it is. India attracted the world then aas it does now for reasons like wealth, knowledge and human resources.

It's easy to crib but the success we have achieved till date is commendable and not very exploiting or demeaning of the fine social fabric of the nation.It is unlike extreme political will of China where people hardly have a right to protest nor its it like a small country Singapore where the heavy fines and laws make it a beautiful staate. The reason that Orissa hinterland is worse than sub saharan Africa is a condition that springs out of the climatic patterns and extreme exploitation of forests by private timber merchants and other forest produce merchants. The more anglicised we are, the more we think like them. If the tribals live in huts , have spare clothing, trade in forest produce, know the rhythms of Nature and live along it, you tend to think they are underdeveloped. Their needs are simple and why should you want to complicate, snap pics to win photojournalism awards and then exploit them. Why?

anilkurup said...

@ Holy Lama,
Your points are valid and I respect them.
But I fear that you missed the point I wanted to convey.
The first do we speak about love for the country and act in such a way on days other than August 15 th?
Why do we have to invoke the past glory to feel proud and great about the motherland? Is it because we in our hearts are feeling ashamed or little because of the state of affairs now? The past was not our making. It was the minds and deeds of the men of the past.And why should we try to claim the credit?
Why do we not admit that even almost seven decades since independence from colonial rule we have a 'Bihar' as a festering sore, not to forget other pockets?
Well I m afraid this might take too long. So in short ,feeling of independence from subjugation from neglect, from want, do we feel that every day?
You said it "exploitation", as long as that activity goes un hindered what is freedom to mean?
Nevertheless like the love for ones biological mother the love for ones motherland is not negotiable and need not be confined to the euphoria of one day.

amalg999 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amalg999 said...

Yes, what you say is true of our Independence Day celebrations. We still have many great problems which face us. But let us not also forget that the patriotic fervour still burns within us, like lava in a volcano. It is burning, yet dormant. At times, when our freedom is threatened or when we go to war, THEN , you will FEEL what it is to be an INDIAN. The REAL INDIAN rises to the occasion !!! We all stand as ONE, shoulder to shoulder ! Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggarman, thief, young and old. All Indians stand TOGETHER !

THAT, is the fruit of our INDIAN INDEPENDENCE !!!

" Be India be what she will,with all her faults, she is my country, still ! "

( A variation of a quote from the late Sir Winston Churchill )

anilkurup said...

Yes India will be our country what ever her fault. But what is India's fault. Her misfortune is the kind of people who are born here. It is the people who makes a country great. The bounty of natural resources are not the making of the people.
We just heard about the "Vedanta" project and how the official machinery tried to usurp the tribal lands and forest to favour this multi national giant.Such marginalisation is happening here every day and we still claim we are free.

Balachandran V said...

One of the best writings on the topic.

It was amusing to read the comments - it reaffirms what you wrote. The proverbial cats!

anilkurup said...

@ Balachandran,

Yes you have a point about the comments.
"India is my country.. and all Indians are my.... I love my country and is proud of its .........".
The litany is recited in every school. And all of us have done it mechanically as a ritual. We do the same even now.
We refuse to admit and accept the 64 years of decay and decadence that has set in the system in our minds. Well.....!