'India is the MOST beautiful country in the world! Our Indian values.. blah blah.. ethics... blah... multicultural, tolerant, blah, blah.. blah'Balderdash! I wonder if the reason behind such jingoist claims is the fact that a lot of garbage is drilled into a billion brains everyday about so-called Indian 'tolerance'.
It's always fascinated me how almost every Indian I know - man, woman and child - lays claim to such moral high ground purely on the basis of their 'Indian'ness.
I've met people who are completely oblivious to their own narrow-mindedness, and yet speak as if they've inherited the mantle of virtue, hand woven by their noble ancestors.
Patriotism if all fine. But once it begins to distort the truth and diminish the lines between reality and absurdity, then it's time for a re-evaluation.
If there's one thing I can't stand, it is forcing 'patriotism' and 'Indian values' down our throats.
It's the same 'values' that cause inflamed mobs to create havoc over a movie that hadn't even been released. (The Bollywood movie 'Jodhaa Akbar' was successfully banned in at least ONE major Indian state over silly allegations.)
Zealots have poured vitriol on MF Husain, one of India's most celebrated artists - and forced him into exile. They accuse the painter of hurting Hindu sentiments by painting Hindu Godesses in the nude. These same bigots welcome Taslima Nasrin, the Bangladeshi writer, with open arms. though she's been accused of pretty much the same.
I remember hordes of nationalists crying foul over a work of art depicting a naked Icarus, of Greek Mythology, perched atop the Ashoka Pillar (adopted as the Indian emblem).
This is the land of the Kama Sutra, and the famous Khajuraho temples known explicit depictions of coitus - even bestiality. Yet, from the social taboos surrounding any mention or discussion of sex, GLBT relationships and public display of affection, you would think that the entire country's been religiously practicing abstinence for centuries (Which, of course, would leave a lot to account for, considering the burgeoning billion plus population!)
Sloganeering mobs forced a movie director Deepa Mehta, to abandon filming one of her movies, and successfully got another one dealing with lesbianism banned.
Shekar Kapur's Bandit Queen was banned as well. India was also perhaps the first country in the world to ban Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses over Muslim outrage.
Extremist, violent outfits like Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal, etc go on a rampage every Valentine's Day.. attacking anything red and heartshaped.
What's even more nauseating is the fact that they attack media outlets, protesting against being labeled ' violent'!
A dozen lawsuits are filed in various parts of the country against 'issues' as monumental as Richard Gere's 'kiss' that landed on Shilpa Shetty's cheeks, or a dress that a certain Tamil actress wore in public, or a viewpoint about premarital sex that another actress dared utter in public.
There's a 'free media' that revels in the story of the day. While the Indian media is relatively free, the mushrooming of 24 hour news channels have forced them to sensationalize trivial 'issues' and engage in the ratings game. (Ever heard Spiderman say 'With great power comes great responsiblity'? Kids know that stuff!)
There is no real freedom of expression (ask Salman Rushdie, MF Husain, Khushboo etc..) What can you say of a country where a couple can't walk hand in hand in public without the fear of being attacked by a morally outraged, saffron branded fundoo? These self-proclaimed custodians of the Indian culture get on my nerves.
The aspiring superpower that India is, it still has no space for any real, free debate, but generously accommodates vitriolic, firebrand politicians, dangerous provincialism, and language feuds.
Secularism in India means the involvement of the Government in every aspect of the religion, rather than the expected hands off approach. Come elections, and right wing parties polarize the electorate along religious lines, with often violent consequences. Perpetrators of anti-Sikh and anti-Muslim pogroms still roam free, bandying about their 'achievements' - and yes, still retain power.
It's sickening to see bastards like Narendra Modi get elected by landslide margins, not despite their communal agendas and ideology of hatred, but precisely BECAUSE of them.
Everything about the present day India reeks of narrow minded hypocrisy. From protests about a designer wearing a dress depicting the national flag, to the major fascinations for renaming cities (Bangalore is the latest victim. Brand name Bangalore is being corrupted to Bengalooru... and Mysore to Mysuru and God-know-what-else to God-knows-what esluu!)
The discriminations based on languages, ethnicity, castes, colour, religion, communal politics, riots and the impunity with which openly violent extremist outfits operate, and the hostility and violence associated with them clearly shows how little India has to show for its much trumpeted claims of being a 'peace-loving, tolerant, democratic' country.
The absence of any notable public outrage against these mindless protesters, communal politics - and the failure of the courts, constitution, public or government to eradicate or inhibit such activities in the least speaks a lot for the nation's conscience - or rather, the lack of one.
Yet children across the country begin each school day with the pledge '.. all Indians are my brothers and sisters..'.
Empty words ringing with hypocrisy - just like the mainstream rhetoric. That's India.
Update: EVERY country in the world is beautiful.