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… In Which We Are At War With Ourselves

June 5, 2012

I often hear proclamations and arguments made about progress in India. You know the one where they used to throw the GDP figures at you and random stuff about development, which I couldn’t often counter argue as I stopped following minutiae a while ago.

And then the GDP graph turned down and people still argued about the “India Shining” story.

Here’s what most people did not realise. India’s tubelights will burn out soon if we do not solve some basic issues. If we do not scrap century-old laws and more importantly, if we do not stop fighting ourselves.

I’m not talking about inter-party fights or even religious fights. I’m talking about a fight within ourselves to retain what is ‘Indian’ and what is not. So while we want those sexy new jeans from Levis, we do not want to see an ad of the woman wearing that and looking sexy on some beach. While we want the latest car on the horizon, we are not particularly comfortable with its association with materialism. We covet but it has been beaten into us that materialism is bad.

And like all things denied, we covet more. Like sex, for instance. We are told it is a sin. Yet, we as a nation are collectively obsessed with it. We gape at women in shorts, we bristle with outrage over a kiss onscreen, even as we throng theatres a million times to watch that scene.

True, people in all nations like to look at a well-endowed woman in a skirt. That’s a topic for another day. But the judgement that comes with wearing the skirt and yet, the attention, is something that happens in fewer countries.

Hell, forget women in skirts. We pray with a casual disregard to the intent of a prayer but we pick up the sword the moment someone seems to be interpreting religion in their own way, which doesn’t adhere to the pack’s code.

Certain Gods are holy and the others are not. Certain groups of people say you should not eat mean, never mind what the larger population has done for generations. We evoke ancient, outdated laws to support our argument and then fall back on the refrain ‘because this is how it has always been.’

Change comes in small measures, particularly when the country weighs as much as India does. But for every step we take forward, we take two back.

We have one of the biggest manufacturers of alcohol in the country and we have a law that states one must buy a license for 5 bucks for every day he wants to drink!

We have our Gods smoking marijuana and yet we ban pot.

We have Godesses fighting in wars and acting as destroyers and we frown if a woman speaks to loudly.

We decorate our temple walls with scenes of lovemaking and then frown on a couple holding hands on the road.

This post might not particularly be rational or correct… it comes from an overdose of ridiculous laws and statements heard over the past few weeks.

We are constantly at war with ourselves between allowing ourselves to progress and stick to ‘how things were done’. And swinging between extremes, we end up destroying the most core Indian trait – adaptability and the ability to merge the best into us.

We’ll survive globalization. If we allow ourselves to.

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