Saturday, August 26, 2006


I am an Indian and am, undoubtedly, proud to be one. However, my sense of patriotism is blended with pragmatism. To give you an example, when I travel abroad, I notice all the ways in which the western world is ahead of us - infrastructure, civics, personal laws, efficacy of the judiciary, community development, even etiquette. At the same time, I think of all that India is superior for - heritage, religion, values, and at times what we are getting at with Young India, being the new Asian Tiger wannabe and all.

What I am trying to get at is that, while I feel good to be an Indian in a global community, I keep my eyes open to all the facets that we are being and should be looked down upon in the globosphere. First and foremost we need to stop being hypocrites.

Take the recent incidence of the 12 Indian-origin detainees on the Northwest flight. The 12 feel suitably humiliated (why shouldn't they) - and are looking at approaching the Human Rights Commission. I am sure enough noise is going to be made about that, enough column-cm and bandwidth of precious space devoted to reality bites and human angle stories. In this world of "eveything goes as Headline News" times, THE 12 are going to be media stars for the limited time they will stay on top of our minds. Then they are going to get on with their business and we will be allowed to get busy with ours.

But take a moment and look beneath the surface. Please dissect the behaviour that led to this hue and cry. We Indians are of as many different shades and types as there are our castes and sub-castes and regions and sub-regions. So it is difficult to find a common line for one behaviour that marks THE INDIAN. Yet, in the globalised, boundaries-shrunk world, the common denominator for civil and civilised behaviour is the same, which each of these 12 seemed to have voilated.

Comm'on, how many of us, even those staying in upmarket, high end parts of very urban India, go through the daily experience of being shoved and pushed around. How many of us witness unruly personal habits being inflicted on us as some sort of a punishment. How many of us get spoken to by rude, ill mannered brethren. And please don't tell me that it happens in some sections and not in the others. I represent what is called the upper strata and my lifestyle revolves around this strata. Take these examples - Adults and their children push you to get ahead in the line in our glitzy cinema halls or OUR McDonald's. Lunching ladies stooping under the weight of their Bvlgari danglings and the latest LV bags in an international setting of a five star hotel elbow you out of the line headed for the delicious array of sushi and sashimi. The big, rich Punjabi uncles in their larger-than-life forms ably assisted by such paraphernalia as the latest CRV or Lexus or BMW model, the oyster-shell set Rolex, thick set of gold chains (never mind the price), over use of the latest Gucci fragrance so off putting that you are forced to take a step back, booming in their deep, affected baritones at a poor little valet in the very exclusive clubs of an uber luxury hotel. Chefs, exposed to the global audience, in five star hotels being taught to wash their hands after every peeing or gold-digging routine. Politicans - dirty, loud-mouthed, aggressive, power hungry with fragile egos and easily epitomes of the worst ever social behaviour possible swarming like locusts in the power nerve centre of Saddi Dilli (New Delhi - the Capital City of India).

I could go on and on. But I am sure you get the picture. So please, let us just stick together in this month of India's independence and free our minds of hypocrisy, prejudice and religious, regional, rural or any other retrograde bias.

The future is ours, the world is beginning to take note of us but can we march forward without the ramshackled, antiquated, asinine India that is best left forgotten.