The Indian dream … a Mirage?

15th August, 1947

“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.”

That was the day of redemption for 35 crore people.

That was the day their dream of a free India was realized.

That was the day the martyrdom of tens of thousands of our forefathers achieved its purpose.

That was the day the Indian people started dreaming of a better future for their children.

That was the day we Indians started governing ourselves.

“A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.”

It has been 63 years since this memorable speech was delivered by our first Prime minister, Nehru. 63 years down the line, braving the test of time, when we look at this, doesn’t the relevance of these lines even today make us feel inherently ashamed of ourselves?

In these 63 years

Has the suppressed soul of our nation found its utterance?

Have we taken / fulfilled our pledge of dedication to service of India?

I have great regards for the civilization that India was, is and is going to be. I have a feeling of belonging to this country which makes me accept whatever it is. Is this one of the prime reasons why India is what it is today – people like me and you accepting the atrocities pervading the Indian society.

India is a country of various cultures with innate diversity that adds richness to its heritage. Statistics say that there are 18 official languages recognized in India and 347 languages that are spoken across 28 states and 7 union territories. Agreed. Point taken.

The fancy phrase that is thrown around everywhere is “Unity in Diversity”. The interpretation of this line that is famous – even though people from multiple cultures and backgrounds are residing in India, we all can peacefully coexist. We salute our motherland and stay with her through thick and thin, during a crisis or otherwise. A term that is very well coined, Kudos! I don’t know if my paranoiac instincts are more powerful than my optimism, but I find this to be of very little relevance in today’s India. The very reason that is quoted to justify the so called “Unity” in diversity is India’s bane. India is infested with fanaticism – for language, for religion, for region, for money. How can I love my country as a whole with such deep rooted problems in its society?

Though I am digressing, I would like to quote an instance to validate my point. I had planned for a perfect weekend. Had to visit Siddhivinayak temple, seek His blessings; go to the IMAX theatre, watch Inception; get back home and watch a movie; blowing away about 400 rupees in the process. While getting back home after my ‘perfect’ weekend, I was subject to disturbing reality that upset me, first as a human, then an Indian.

The scene is at a crowded railway station, where everyone is minding their own businesses. While at the ticket counter, I saw an old lady, possible as old as my grandmother, seeking alms from people waiting in the queue and bystanders. Her walk was tired and had a limp. She was turning in all possible directions, with the hope of finding someone to give her some money; with one hand outstretched and the other hand on her back, possibly to relieve herself of the pain; all this while taking support of the wall nearby. It was hard not to notice people not noticing her. There was this woman, who must have been through so much in life, must be having children of my parents’ age and grandchildren of my age; “destiny” has put her in this situation, and can’t even one person find the time or capital to spare her some money? Are we so callous that we can gleefully accept that there is a fellow human being who is struggling to feed herself/himself. The truth is that there are so many people like this old lady at the station everywhere that we find them to be a part of life who are merely entities. I gave her a few coins. The grateful look on her face and her acknowledgement of my “generosity” was too hard to take. I was on my way home after blowing up 400 rupees in about 3 hours and here was this lady for whom getting a meal was a big deal. The irony of life wrenched my heart.

What is the point in saluting the National Flag, singing the National Anthem, cheering “Mera Bharat Mahan!” when the very essence of life is lacking in our society? A child’s education is still a dream for many of our compatriots. Three meals a day is luxury for some. Such is the disparity of living and income In India; that it makes any normal, sane person with basic rationality to question its system, its culture, and its ethics. An iota of doubt on my motherland is an insult to my integrity. The question we need to ask ourselves is what is that we have done as citizens to make our fellow human beings’ lives better. [borrowing from Kennedy’s speech here]

Indian independence is something that our forefathers [not us] have achieved after a long struggle, so that we would have what they didn’t have – freedom : from injustice, from social evils, from monopoly. Their sacrifices will go in vain if we don’t realize their Indian dream. Our Independence day has come to become just a break from our mundane routines, where we sit at home and watch TV. The hard fact is that our complacency and apathy have let opportunists exploit the situation and make merry.

I have quoted the causes of these problems [corruption, politics etc] in my previous posts and wouldn’t want to elaborate on them. We know the problems, we need to find solutions. Apparent patriotism is not the need of the hour. We need to turn on the switch, shift gears and step on the gas pedal – I can hear the siren wailing.

There is hope for the future only if we wake up from our slumber. India is shining in her own way, she is recognized on the international map as a progressing nation with growing economy – but much is left to be done, and this task is very much on our hands.

I would like to quote Swami Vivekananda’s immortal and inspiring quote – “Arise, awake, stop not till the goal is reached”.

Jai Hind. Truly.

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9 comments

  1. hi!!…gr8 post..!!u r right!!time has come for us to wake up from the too deep slumber v have cradled ourselves into!!…

  2. The Meliorist in you has raised his voice, loud enough to not just be heard but penetrate. Kudos to you on this sublime post!
    Nehru’s lines are one of my favourites, sad that it’s spirits couldn’t get carried over into the souls of our countrymen post independence.
    Today we are divided by our diversity and unity
    has only been an ideal.
    Progress of our nation is only complete if every citizen promises himself a better country for him/herself every time while saluting the sacred tri-colour, giving a true meaning to the celebration of the Independence Day.
    And yes, Jai Hind. Truly.

  3. I have read your previous posts related to India.. But this post by far is the best and is more nearer to the core of every Indian..

  4. Hello Ashwin,
    The post on the Indian Dream (Independence) is timely and well-written, as usual:).If the youth of this country can feel from within and understand the futility of the ‘lifestyle of indulgence’ that has come to stay as a result of globalisation, India can afford to realize her dream, if not today,at least in the nearest future.But sadly, ‘streaks of humanism’ is being considered old fashioned and obsolete.Squandering of the hard-earned money on transient and trivial pleasures is something very natural and anybody questioning this is considered to be ‘prying’ or ‘invading upon somebody’s personal space’.’Arrogance of affluence’is the order of the day and this can ruin us unless the youth of this great nation wake up from the Rip Wan Winkle sleep immediately and do something about it.

  5. Ah now i see it after entering three times… Anyways, just wanted to say – nice work.. keep it up… by the way i njoy ur movie reviews too 🙂

  6. dear Ashwin,
    Thats superb and touching too…it’s nice to note that an youngster like you can think thro so deep and if a ‘fraction’ of these ideas can penetrate the young minds of this vast country- it will make a big sea change to our motherland!
    Hope some of the ‘babus & good politicians (…very few) can go thro these and make an attempt to correct…it will be a good begining…

    JAI HIND!

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