changing india


it is now widely accepted that the “resilience” or the “spirit” that we have lauded so much in the past is a myth that most people have stopped believing in. people are angrier this time round, if anything, the attacks supposedly have fewer people asking for mourning, and more people asking ‘when will we make them mourn this day?’

but do we really think this can happen? do we believe india will manage to bring terrorists to justice? do we believe that india can prevent any more terror attacks?

not really. as everyone unanimously tends to agree around their tables, india can never change.

sailesh made a valid point that we need to change before we can expect anything else to change. and given a chance, most people will actually agree with this ideology. however, given the fact that the large majority will not change right now, we too will not change right now. the circular reasoning is perfect. and the state of affairs go on as they always have.

more than one person refuses to discuss the matter. i cannot censure them for this, every discussion that we have ever indulged in has been academic. we talk, and then we go back to living our lives. can anyone really be blamed for doing this? the days of the selfless person – the person who lives for others first, and later himself – are long over. discussions should lead to action, but today – when i sit in the US arguing over dinner as to why india’s foreign policy has always sucked – i know, as does everyone else, that there is very little chance that what we talk about will ever leave the dinner table. on the one hand we know that only we who have experienced the crap that is the indian life, can actually do anything about it. on the other hand, we have way too many other things to involve us: our careers, our significant others, our gadgets, everything else.

i complain that the president is uneducated, that politicians by-and-large rarely study beyond school, but i will not enter the system myself. i shouldn’t have to, politics is not for everyone. is there any real way in which i can ensure that the candidates i vote for are worthy of my vote?

there were an interesting set of initiatives talked about in this NYT article: to some extent, people are appearing to realize that such a system can only be reformed by the people themselves. on the other hand, the article also talked about how the average person only talks, in the end, he will still bribe his traffic havaldar. i have done similar things too, i could justify it as my token of appreciation for someone who did their job properly at the RTO.. but i know that this is the behaviour that starts the slippery slide. the large majority are now tired of the state of affairs, as evidenced by comments on the previous post. but they also believe that everything is a sham, and nothing can be done about anything.

change is a funny thing in these circumstances.. we say we want things to change, but we also worry about what that change will mean for us. no more getting away with traffic violations. no more parking anywhere anyhow. no more getting official permits without having to go through the process of application. and then people have the right to want everyone to toe the line. “why catch only me now? first catch all those people who got it done illegally and then come to me. then don’t let those people in power get it done illegally. when you’re done with all that come back to me. in the meanwhile give this to me now.”

the fact of the matter is that we want someone else to get things changed without having to change much ourselves. we laud systems “abroad” while, as we have all repeated at dinner tables, the only difference is that people respect the system “abroad”. somehow this never applies when one is in india. simply because the large uneducated majority does not do much by the book, the educated minority does nothing either. we each have about 300 billion peeves with the way things do not happen in india, and believe that nothing can be done by us about even one of those peeves. our solutions generally range the gamut: from stopping the payment of taxes to endorsing president’s rule to simply getting rid of all politicians.

i remember arguing once with friends about how nothing could ever change in india. there was a point at which i believed nothing could ever change in india. today, i cannot believe this. the fact of the matter is that we don’t really want anything to change. we would rather mourn the dead, lament our fates, express disgust at a broken system, and then go back to systematically ensuring that it happens again. those people held at gunpoint that day, those soldiers and civilians who died: every one of us is as responsible as the politicians and the system we persist in blaming for their murder.

i know, it is easy to say such things sitting in a faraway country. to talk about living within the indian system when i am not actually having to practice what i preach. unfortunately, all i can do right now is talk. its the only way i know of ensuring that the indian in me will change.


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