Random Thoughts

We had a great civilization once and perhaps part of the reason why we are where we are today is because we have failed to acknowledge our past glory. The reason why we fail to do so is mostly because our history has been documented by our enemies or Indian historians with colonized and “secularized” mindsets. Indian historians or others who have documented our past for what it is are sidelined and it is only the distorted versions that portray us in a poor light that have been mainstreamed the world over, so that the greatness of our Vedic past has remained unacknowledged and only aspects that portray Hindus in poor light are highlighted. This has led to most of the world with what little it knows about us, to look at Hindus/ Indians in a poor light.

That is one part of our story. Then there is another, yet again for which the common citizen may not be responsible, and that is the India of today. It is the Congress government which was in power for most of the 68 years of independence and a large portion of the situation can be blamed on our elected representatives.

Still, we are also a country where all sections of society have had and continue to have infinite tolerance for and almost an acceptance of:

  • corruption,
  • mal-governance,
  • filth,
  • absence of basic amenities,
  • absence of dignity of human existence,
  • abysmal infrastructure

Long before I ever stepped abroad for the first time, I always wondered what pleasure Indians found in driving huge cars when even so-called cities are mostly overgrown villages with tiny lanes and bumpy roads full of potholes. I’d rather live in a city/country with quality infrastructure than drive around in a world class car on the kind of roads we had back then and still have.

Those who have lived abroad in the developed world for a considerable quantum of time will note how third world we remain even in terms of the roads we continue to have. Things haven’t changed in terms of the quality of roads and the parking space situation is a nightmare. The only change is the Indian middle class and upwards drive around in swanky and often huge cars, with few bothering to see that Indian cities are too third world for driving around in such cars and this activity doesn’t make these folks citizens of an affluent nation but only contributors to traffic jams and pollution. The concept of parking space as a pre-requisite to be able to drive a four wheeler is sadly lacking among the majority of car owners in India.

The Indian middle class many of whom in the last 2 or 3 decades have had some exposure to living abroad at least for a short while are still into concepts like “freedom to own and drive a four wheeler”, when a sensible approach would be pressurizing municipalities of each city to provide world class streets and world class public transport amenities. How many of us would be ready to sacrifice giving up driving a four wheeler within city limits and instead try and make our cities less third world? We want to compete with developed countries in the types of cars we drive but how about competing with them in the type of infrastructure we have, the cleanliness of our streets, the type of public transport we have, the pollution free and green zones our cities have?

It is the same with our tolerance of slums and people living in the utmost filth. How have we as Indians over the years happily “accepted” the presence of slums and undeveloped rural pockets where people live in horrendous and inhuman conditions that are completely lacking in human dignity?

Yes, we have many things to be proud of and our current Prime Minister has rightly tried to lift the Indian psyche out of the inferiority complex that our media and the Congress party had pushed us into over the years. But do we realize how we look to the outside world? With people having lived in unhygienic environs life long, many have no concept of public hygiene. A majority spit in public spaces without thought, and almost all Indians litter and throw garbage. Yes, the municipal workers may be partly to blame for the garbage littering the streets but a large part of it is because Indian citizens have happily tolerated littered streets instead of protesting. Indians protest and carry out hunger agitations for caste reservations but not for having their garbage lifted daily from the streets.

I think what our ancestors speak about also includes having respect for the environment but current day Indians think it’s okay to live in filth and minus basic infrastructure and the basic dignity of life for all but it’s the end of the world if we can’t burst crackers, have noisy celebrations that disturb senior citizens, overcrowd our rivers with Ganpati idols or cover our streets with the blood of goats to celebrate Eid.

Yes, we have the richest and most beautiful ancient culture in the world but today as Indians we are characterized by this:

  • corruption,
  • mal-governance,
  • filth,
  • absence of basic amenities,
  • absence of dignity of human existence,
  • abysmal infrastructure

and unless we fix this, don’t expect the world in general to respect us only because we’ve had a “glorious past”.

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