Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Yesterday, August 15th, India was 57 years young as a Nation. On display was copious quantities of patriotism, nationalism, jingoism and (among many) skepticism.

One well-educated skeptic sent in this email.

“Nothing to cheer about the Independence Day - the day we regret our inability to achieve anything.

Independence has become limited only to a few people in India. Politicians are totally independent. They can do whatever they want and can change any law. It is a shame.

I feel President APJ Abdul Kalam should become the Prime Minister of India (a President can only talk, not do any thing – but a Prime Minister can.)

If God comes to me, I will ask Him to kill all the corrupt politicians in the world.”

It’s nice to be a critic. Constructive criticism spurs betterment. But I question the right of arm-chair critics to assume a holier-than-thou posture. Do these critics berate the world around them after exhausting all attempts to change it? I do not think so.

I have a question to the arm-chair critics. How sincerely have we tried to change the habits we have acquired in our independent state of existence?

Fifty years of independence has granted us many ‘freedoms’.

1) We can jump traffic signals.
2) We can leave electricity ON 24 hours a day in our public (and even private) places.
3) We can urinate and defecate in public places.
4) We can waste tap water by hundreds of gallons every day and then blame the government for not implementing rain-water harvesting (now that its pouring by the dam-fulls in Hyderabad, how many of us have harvested water?)
5) We can spit on the roads and our co-travelers.
6) We can go to all the supermarkets, choose to use polluting plastic covers and bags, and then dump the same on to our roads and into our ecosystem.
7) We can go to places of national importance like historical buildings and write graffiti on the walls (go to Golconda fort and see the number of "Kumar loves Rani" messages and you will be astounded.)
8) We can choose not to declare our total income and escape taxes (and then crib the damn roads are not fit four our Mercs.)
9) We can throw cups and other garbage out of the train windows while completely ignoring messages imploring us not to.
10) We can smoke in all public places (damn the Supreme Court order!) unmindful of the many a passive smoking fool.
11) After doing all of the above (and more) we can assume an US (the educated moral, self-righteous, indignant elite) versus THEM (them rotten politicians, babus and netas) position and prattle on incessantly.

We clamor from the rooftops non-stop about human-rights but seldom whisper about our human responsibilities.

When all is lost, we wring our hands in despair, shed crocodile tears, mouth a few profanities at "THEM" (them rotten politicians, babus and netas) and call upon the Providence to send down heavenly thunderbolts from Hell to wipe out corruption (after all, isn't that the least we can choose to do in this Kaliyug?) or ever-optimistically wish for a new Prime Minister…

Does it take eons to realize that God and the Satan, godliness and ugliness all reside in our hearts?

Let’s begin with our responsibilities - let’s work on it hard and fast for the next one year. On August 15th 2005, at the stroke of midnight, when the world sleeps, we will gather online and chat about our experiences with assuming greater responsibilities. Have we made a change around us?

I am absolutely sure that WE WILL BE pleasantly surprised.

Jai Hind!

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