Proud to be Indian. Are we really patriotic?

Proud to beIndian. This was the sentiment echoed in the comments that followed this clip on FB.  We are proud of our educational system. No reason why we should not be.  But just think, how many times do we keep saying this, nay shouting it from the roof tops? We are a patriotic lot. Are we? Are we really all that patriotic in the truest sense of the word? How much do we do for our country?

We never stop harping on all the glories of our past, we don’t stop talking of our golden heritage, all the Aryabhats and Ramanujams we produced. We had the world’s first aircrafts ……  But what are we doing NOW? Almost everything the world knows now, we claim we knew centuries ago. So where is all that knowledge today? Why are we not world leaders? Why are we content with being followers?

We are proud of the number of IITians and IIM graduates we churn out and the number of them who make it big in the outside world – read the U S of A. Do we ever stop to ask ourselves “why are so many of them – generations of these graduates – opting to go off to distant shores? What is it that drives them to go away from the country that gave them this education in the first place? Greed? Lack of opportunities”?

Easy to point a finger at them and say they are greedy and want to run after money, they don’t have any gratitude for the motherland which made them what they are. But what about our other four fingers which are pointing back at us? As tax payers we fuel in money into the governmental kitty to fund these institutions. As parents we sweat day and night to support our off spring while they work hard and to ensure that they make the grade to get into these world class institutions. We goad them on to go off to foreign shores – for two reasons:

  • The desire to see them realize their fullest potential in their careers
  • Personal gratification and the opportunity to boast about our kids to society

Let us leave out the second reason and its ramifications for another post, another day. Let us just concentrate on the first reason. Why should they have to seek better opportunities abroad? Why don’t they have the best opportunities here in our country? Is there a lack of money? I doubt it. If we think of the amount of money that gets diverted into the personal kitties and overseas bank accounts of politicians and other financial scams, if we think of the fact that we have enough money to launch spacecrafts, do we not have sufficient money to do something here at ground level to ensure that our youngsters stay in our country and contribute to our growth? Yes, the ones who are abroad eventually might invest some money in our country, but what about the rest? What we are reaping is just a fraction of what we sow. Does this make sense?

So why is this the way it is? Lack of political will? Corruption in high places? Lack of far-sighted policies? Policies that throttle the opportunities of capable men and women from getting well-deserved posts in governmental jobs – policies such as reservation of posts based on considerations such as caste and gender? Family contacts, political contacts, bureaucracy, caste considerations, gender considerations being the primary considerations in allotment of jobs?

And then we shout out from the roof tops that we are proud to be Indian. That is not true patriotism. “Do not ask what your country does for you, ask what you can do for your country”. True, provided there were not so many goons out there parading as politicians who controlled my ability to do a lot more for my country than I presently can.

As of now I can say, yes, I am proud to belong to a country and a race which has so much of brain power. I am proud to belong to a race that has individuals like a Narayan Murthy, a Kiran Mazumdar Shah, an Azim Premji among many others. I am proud to belong to a race that produces individuals from the most ordinary backgrounds who beat all odds to rise above their circumstances and limitations to make it big. But NO, I am not proud to belong to a country that ranks high in a list of the most corrupt countries of the world, sends up satellites but does not have decent sanitation in many places, does not have sufficient health care for its poor, does not provide sufficient job opportunities to cater to that section of its population who are highly skilled and highly educated and whose literacy rates are still phenomenally low. ‘

Yes, we have a lot going for us, but it is of no use if we don’t learn to harness all the skills that our country produces more productively and if we don’t do more for our people and provide a better quality of life for everyone. It does not suffice to just say we are proud to be Indian. We have to prove it through our deeds.

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8 Responses to “Proud to be Indian. Are we really patriotic?”

  1. In other countries, the educated folks know that it is up to them to bring the “feel good” factor to their society. Where there is darkness, shed some light, some positivity. It was apparent during the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting and during Boston bombings recently.

    Not the case with us — the burden of building a better society is on someone else. We are here to judge and criticize. Our education system has been designed to treat our past as one wasteland. It cuts us off from our roots; we are even ashamed of our languages (a suave, English-medium educated Shashi Tharoor caught in a massive corruption scandal? Look the other way!).

    As we feel, so we become.

  2. I totally agree that the burden of building a better society rests on each and every individual. But tell me, in a population of more than a billion, what change can a handful of people bring out? I am not suggesting that we throw up our hands and use this as an excuse not to chip in and do our bit. But the frustrating factor is that what a few tens of thousands of people try to do gets undone by the millions of others.

    Try to stick to traffic rules – stop at a red signal – you are lucky if the guy behind does not bash you up for not letting him go. Try getting any job done without paying a bribe and see how many months or years it would take if it gets done at all in the first place.

    Try getting people to cooperate in keeping a public place or a heritage site clean – what is the reaction? “Tere baap ka maal hai kya” (Is this your father’s property)?

    Reserve a ticket on a train in advance and you will have 50 people getting into the compartment unreserved and sidling up to occupy a seat by your side or piling up on the top berth to sit till their next station. “Adjust a little” is the mantra here. No protests help. For all you know the travelling ticket checker may have been bought off to turn a Nelson’s eye.

    Get caught for an infringement of the traffic law. Want to avoid to pay the full fine or having to go to court? Tip the policeman some cash (without receipt of course) and go scot free!

    So how does a few people sticking to the law change this entire picture? How long will it change? How will it ever change when we have teachers buying their jobs or getting them on merit of their caste or religion or gender rather on merit? What values are they going to inculcate in their pupils?

    What values are go-getter parents who want their off-spring to “shine” in their profession going to pass on if they teach their children that it is okay to pay a capitation fee to get a seat while a deserving meritorious student does not get a place because (s)he is not rich enough?

    Thus, while it is alright to say each of us is responsible for the state of our society, it is not going to work unless each and every individual or at least the majority are going to work towards its improvement.

    • You know, there is really not much to do. It is enough if we stop spreading negativity. We pick something from the crime pages everyday and go on lengthy discussions and it finally ends with everyone concluding how horrible our society is. Compare this with how the locals reacted in CT and in MA in the face of brutality.

      Directing our anger on something external is the surest way of escaping from our own failings. That is the main motive for this so called activism. Activism that gets its fodder by scouring the crime pages first thing in the morning.

      • Arpan, the idea is not to spread negativity. The idea is to get people to take an honest look at oneself before indulging in empty jingoism and shouting from rooftops about how great we are. I found this clip on FB and found comments like “proud to be Indian”. It sounds absurd. At least in my personal opinion. And that is what I am expressing here. How can one honestly claim that my country is great, I am proud of being an Indian when there are so many things we need to rectify before we can look up and face NOT OTHERS BUT OURSELVES IN A MIRROR. What have WE done to feel proud? Why are we proud of some people who have worked hard and achieved something as if it is our own personal achievement? Why are we proud of a Kalpana Chawla who achieved what she did thanks to the opportunities she was given by another country? Did she get those opportunities here in India? Would she have achieved the same things had she stayed on in India? We are quick to take credit where none is due to us? Just the fact that these people have Indian genes in them does not mean we have done a lot for them.

        Shutting up, keeping quiet, not expressing our angst is not the solution. That, too, is not going to bring us anything. Expressing our thoughts may or may not achieve anything, but there is at least a 50% chance it would.

        We cannot compare the situation here with what happened in say the US in the face of 11/9 or the recent CT and MA violence. Sad to say there are millions of people here who are “educated” but still would not react the way the public did there. It is for that very reason that we need to say what we feel. Just because we say something here does not mean we personally do not do anything. Just the fact that we do not shout our personal achievements or personal contributions to society from roof tops does not mean we do not do anything or that we should shut up and not say anything about what we feel is wrong.

        If you do not agree with this, it is your personal opinion to which you have a legitimate right and I can agree to disagree.

      • Just read that we all suffer from sickness, some hide it better than others. Some do it with drugs and alcohol. Some do it by turning gutter inspectors.

        Here is positivity you won’t find in Indian media. See how they find heroes even in outrageous situations? We do have such people, just never in the limelight.

        (if u are curious about the first sentence: the sickness we all suffer from is the sickness of separation from “High C”, our higher consciousness)

  3. Your claim that positive deeds are not highlighted is not exactly accurate. (http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/indian-bravery-awards-to-children-for-their-courageous-and-heroic-act2007/1/156367.html)

    But what you fail to address (or is it refuse to address or want to be blind to?) is that the kind of behaviour that “WE” the Indian public indulge in is not commonly seen in other countries. If it were, the people responsible for it would be severely punished. The public there does not spit on the roads, pee or defecate wherever it suits them, vandalize heritage sites with graffiti …… Is talking of this and the need to rectify this wrong or negative? Is questioning something like why people are leaving the country and preferring to stay away wrong? It is precisely this ostrich like attitude that leads to a situation where nothing changes. Would it not be better to have some kind of constructive discussion on what it is that needs to be done and then to take concrete steps towards such changes, at whatever level that be?

    It is not that I do not love my country. It is not for nothing that I am living here today instead of abroad. I certainly doff my cap to all those who are doing unusual service to our country in their own simple way and making their contribution towards making it a better place to live in. But I do not believe in blindly worshipping all that is mine – I rather question and try to change what is bad for the better. That is my personal style of patriotism. I know we have many weaknesses. I know this is what needs to be changed and this is what I am talking about and I see nothing negative about it.

  4. In the words of someone else:
    Being a ‘social activist’, I imagined that the sources of all oppression and negativity were external–‘out there’, in the ‘world beyond’. Directing my energies and anger onto these external forces, I saw no need at all to introspect and recognize, leave alone solve, my own inner negativities, which I left completely ignored and unaddressed all these many years. It was truly a very convenient way of running away from my own inner dilemmas, insecurities and incompleteness.
    Hope these words carry the message better.

  5. Hope my point made sense and I did not cross the line… my dismay, which led to the above comments, was actually provoked by other bloggers… I picked this blog for my outpouring because I saw a ray of hope here 🙂 A ray of hope that I will be understood

Would be useful if we could have some option to block certain posters.

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