Why it is meaningless to say you’re proud to be an Indian
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama.
“More than you know it I’m aware, Of this connection that we share. I know it seems like sometimes I don’t care, But you are the colors that I wear” – “3 AM”, Poets of the Fall.
“I’m proud to be an Indian ” – Twitterer, January 26th, 2010.
“You were an Indian in America, and now you’re an American in India. Always confused.” – Neo’s Uncle Abhay on Neo, January 26th 2010.
“What time is Lost?” – Neo, moments ago.
On Republic Day, Uncle Abhay kept trying to get Neo to enjoy the parade, but Neo was more interested in spending quality time with his Google Reader, podcasts and wine – only two things were “dry” on Republic Day at Neoville: the municipal water supply, and Abhay’s throat because he couldn’t stop talking.
Uncle Abhay finally gave up: “Are you even an Indian? What the hell are you doing in India? Why did you come here? Aren’t you proud of being an Indian?”.
Neo has plenty of time to listen to Raga Marwa, or wait for his turn at the traffic light, but he has no time to waste watching parades, waving the flag of any country, chanting slogans or reading @nevervotes92’s tweets on how he’s proud of being an Indian. Saying that you are proud of being an Indian isn’t much different than saying you’re proud to be born on a Monday – being an Indian is just a fact, not an achievement to be proud of. Would you be less proud if you were born Romanian, or on a Tuesday ? You could say you’re lucky to be an Indian – millions of Bangladeshis would agree.
The ridiculously sloganeered and caricatured shows of patriotism that occur in India (and every other country) on “national holidays” are an insult to the intelligence of its citizens. What happened to the thoughtful, deep India ? When did we choose gaudy weddings over happy marriages, not-stalgia and past glory over reality, rutty careers over our real aspirations, pretentious religious ceremonies over what they actually mean, deep-fried over grilled, elder-worship over thinking for ourselves, the display of money over tastefulness and rote-memorized slogans over an intuitive understanding of civic duty ? You can get a kid to recite “Mera Bharat Mahan” or the sugary-sweet “All Indians are my brother and sisters” until his face is blue, but he’s still not going to stop throwing his fucking candy wrapper on the road until a parent teaches him to.
And have you noticed ? Around the world, the more pathetic the condition of its citizens, the grander and more pretentious are the patriotic celebrations and the forced, fake statements of pride. If the Martians were watching the parades on TV, they’d think North Korea was the leader of the world. The lipstick on a prostitute gets more garishly red as dawn approaches, or as the drugs wear off.
A few of Neo’s family members and friends serve (proudly) in the Indian armed forces. None of them are impressed by the Facebook status updates, tweets and blog posts proclaiming pride for India on national holidays or disasters. This Republic day, Neo’s friend said “We serve in the army so the rest of you motherfuckers can be safe and change India, not so you can sit around forwarding patriotic songs and feel happy.”
How about we replace all the parades, speeches and sloganeering with a simple ceremony that honors the men and women who would run towards a gunshot rather than away from it ? The ceremony can end in a simple wish – “we honor the Indians who died for our country this year, and we hope our enemies will soon have the opportunity to die in very large numbers for their country.”
Hello, and welcome to Neo’s blog. He is Indian, and he’s proud of many things. But he’s not proud to be an Indian. He just is an Indian.
PS: You still like parades ? Here’s a parade that will make you proud, or maybe, if you’re like Neo, laugh uncontrollably and then collapse with sadness:
PS2: Are you proud of this blog post? If you are, you shouldn’t be. You didn’t write it.