Today was an interesting Sunday, a day that gave me some time to peacefully think about a few things in this post.
After a very long time, I had a conversation with a close friend that I really enjoyed. From favourite movies to work, weddings, it was an hour of bliss. Probably, the only thing I miss in Mysore is a few friends. People close enough to share conquests, joys, sorrows and anxieties with. I live with the hope that 2016 will be kind to me, and send some fun people along.
But lets put all of that aside, and come to the point of this post. I saw my favourite movie today, Ashutosh Gowariker’s Swades. A 2004 film about an NRI who comes back to see what India really is. A movie that I try and see once in a while on a Sunday when I have the time. (Not to forget, the movie is 3 Hours and 7 Minutes long, so watching it as often as I would like is a luxury I do not have.) A movie so entrenched in us, that almost every time people do a triple ride on a scooter, it is inadvertently referred to.
India is much different from what it was when I first saw the movie in 2004. And so are Indians. Having been in a generation which knew about the existence of villages and associated hardships, the movie was believable, and a reminder of how the villages of India are. Back then, I would also visit my ancestral village way more often than I have in the last 12 years, and somehow, the Village Halwai (Ram-bharose, If I remember his name correctly) and his Samosas still bring fond memories. Memories of watching my Grandfather and his friends play a game of cards in the porch of our residence, the village children, running and screaming behind my father’s car screaming ‘Collector Sa’ab’ playing cricket with the children of the neighborhood are still fresh in my mind.
When I see the Indians of today, growing up in Metropolitan cities, oblivious to the realities of the country, it makes me feel uneasy. Maybe, a few months back, I’d also conveniently forgotten the fact that there are millions of people, without access to basic amenities in every part of the country, divided by caste, creed and religion.
In one of my assignments with ITC, I’d visited a few villages in the Mysore region with my colleagues and it was there where I felt that the convenience with which I’d forgotten what India truly is, even today. With multi-million salaries, cities that have every comfort imaginable, we have become a generation that only knows of issues that are #trending. Somewhere, I feel that we’ve become a generation that is using technology and progress to become increasingly amnesiac and blind to what our duties really are. Yes, Odd and Even was important, but so is the plight of millions of malnourished children. Warming ourselves up with a shot of vodka at Hauz Khas Village in Delhi winters is what we all love, but what about the thousands freezing in winter shelters?
At this point, my head is more full of questions than answers. What am I doing to make a difference? Am I really making a difference? What can I influence others to do? Why do we check if NGOs where we contribute are entitled to IT exemption under section 80 (G) of the Income Tax Act? Where is the Indian in all of us? The Indian, who stood behind the Mahatma as he peacefully drove Britishers out of India. The Indian who helped heal the wounds of the Partition. The Indian, who told Governments that merely a dynasty does not give them power to be self-serving. The Indian who is resilient, strong and caring.
As we increasingly become a part of this hashtag generation, somewhere I feel that we’re leaving a lot of people behind us. There always have been two Indias. the India of the haves, and the India of the have-nots. But there always was a connect between the two. But somehow, I now feel that these two Indias are strangers to each other. From We the People, it’s soon becoming Us and them. And somewhere, the Indian in me wishes that it is my thoughts on the subject that are incorrect, and it is not reality. There is a cry of anguish, somwhere deep inside, and I’m scared that it will die out some day, like a candle in the wind.
“Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity”
– From the Preamble to the Constitution of India