Friday, October 28, 2011

On the other hand

On the very day I write this post about India as a two-faced nation, I get to read this article by Chetan Bhagat. This is an excerpt, you can find the full post here. Nice piece and a reply of sorts to an article that appeared in the NY Times here.

Of course, you can also quit. You can take the ‘you bloody Indians’ approach people have taken against my country for decades. I won’t judge you. I really won’t. I really wish the person who wrote the article above is happy in the USA. I love America, it is a wonderful country that understands creativity, talent, freedom and equality. It has drawbacks, but I look at their positives more. I wish India will adopt many of those positive qualities one day. But until that happens, I don’t wish to quit. I love India too much to quit. I want to be here, till the last servant is mistreated and the last person breaks traffic rules. I want to be here, not to be perfect, but to try my best to not succumb to all that is negative in my country. I want to fight it, for simply fighting it feels good to me.

Generally, I find Bhagat a bit over the top (many students from my alma mater are ;-) ). But what he says about himself rings true to me. At least I can identify with it. One or two of you might even guess what I am talking about :-) And at the risk of sounding pretentious, I would say that these 2 months here in Europe have given me a taste of things abroad. I won't extol the virtues of this place, but it has happened more than once that reading some Delhi news has resulted in a chuckle or two escaping me before I even realized it! And that is purely because I am comparing things back home to how things work here. For instance, I was reading about this safety drive in DTC buses, where some DTC officials are going to board select buses over a few weeks to make sure that the driver doesn't over-speed and stops at all stops for the designated duration.  And the article went on to quote a Delhi govt. official talking about how GPS devices installed in buses has resulted in more effective monitoring. And involuntarily, I compared this scenario to the one all over Europe, where public transport runs like clockwork with nary a trouble!

But the very next instant I chuckled again. This time it was because I realized the folly of comparing two nations decades apart in their development phase and with issues so different that it was akin to comparing Tarzan with Spider-man! India will overcome these issues in good time, not on its own, mind you, but because of the millions of unsung heroes who struggle to improve things everyday. And I am not just talking of the Anna's and the Bedi's of the country. They are an immense inspiration, sure. But I feel equally glad when I read of people like Nagaraja(of whom I came to read just today), like our very own Professor Anil Gupta, the lakhs of people in our rural hinterland who come up with ways to conquer their everyday problems. And I am filled with hope that our country will stand on its feet soon. We can curse the country and the government, the system, the corruption, all the millions of problems that we face everyday all we like. Or we can try and solve them as these men are doing.

That is the choice which Bhagat says he has made, which these men have made, and which we all need to make!