Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Proud of the Fatherland!

Why is it that when any well-meaning criticism is placed on Indian topics, people would rather point fingers at the critic? Usually the retort is that the critic doesn't love the country, or that he isn't proud of his country.

Well, you know what: I love my country, and am proud as a lion about it. Can't get enough of Hariprasad Chaurasia, Vada pavs, Pav Bhaji or the Kama Sutra. Still love the feeling of travelling in India, by Indian railways, and meeting completely unfamiliar people, all without needing a passport.

All this is fine, and nobody doubts an Indian as far as he is singing praises of Hariprasad Chaurasia and Vishwanathan Anand. But it is the minute you point out how Bheja Fry is a shitty copy of the French movie, Le Dîner de cons, that you transition from being a loved fellow Indian to a clumsy, foreign, NRI, outsider, spoilt by your love for all things Western, or Eastern, or everything non-Indian. Soon your entire life is called into question: were you really born in India? Maybe you're too rich, too poor, too smart, too dumb. Maybe your parents spoilt you rotten, or maybe they left you in an empty room to play with the light-switch.

Can this get any more retarded? Why must we equate love for country with blind devotion to a fascism where no dissent is tolerated.

I once was part of a conversation where Indian movies were being discussed. This conversation happened in a moving car, so I was not free to leave it if I wanted. One of the people asked me what Indian movies I had watched recently, and I blurted out that I had not watched any Hindi movie recently. Immediately her reply was to question my Indian-ness, my love for India, and how I must be ashamed of my country. Admittedly, this person was not the brightest spark, but her reaction is typical of some Indians I have met.

How the hell did that kind of mentality come to be tolerated?

Not keeping in touch with Hindi movies for a period of a few months immediately disqualifies you from being Indian these days. The central question in the Indian passport form must be the names of the recent Hindi movies, along with the life history of Aishwarya Rai.

Then, if you actively criticize something, then you're bound to get your mailbox filled with hateful speech. Say if you were to complain about some Indian Institute, you're bound to get blasted to little bits. Even worse if you actually compare that institute to some foreign institute.

This isn't pride, this is fascism. If you cannot meaningfully discuss basic things like the state of our education, you don't live in a democracy. Kiss up to Stalin, and better love everything Koba did for his subservient followers.

Democracy, and true love for the country demands that you bring to notice the wrongs that you see. Criticism of Sati led to a gradual change of attitudes. Would you question the Indian-ness of the people involved?

Without critical thinking, there can be no change.

1. Yes, all Indians are not like that. Many Indians are fine individuals, who accept, challenge, and aspire for better. Clearly these people are not being blamed here.