So India has been independent for a while now. 68 years to be precise (forgive me if I am wrong, numbers and me don’t like each other). Back in the days when I was in school, this meant a flag hoisting followed by singing competitions, speeches, skits and finally sweets! Every school going Indian child knows what Independence Day celebrations entail. This is one thing that doesn’t change with time and I’m glad it doesn’t. But there are some things that I hope, change soon. Before I begin, I’d like it to be known that I LOVE India and there is nowhere in the world I’d rather live. Here are the top 5 things (in no particular order) , I’d like us Indians to change about ourselves.
- Our Extremely Twisted Gender Perspectives – People may cry hoarse about all the lovely things India is and Indians do. But at the end of the day, for a normal girl walking on the street, India is a deeply misogynistic place. Misogyny is embedded so deep that we take it for granted now. On some terrible and widely publicized occasions, the collective conscience of our great nation is jolted. We go for candlelight vigils, sit ins , and protest marches. Lawmakers promise us changes, people make movies, people write articles, and then like electrons dropping from their excited state to their ground state, we go back to our usual apathetic selves, and content ourselves with throwing our thoughts out on social media (pretty much like what I’m doing now). What’s funny is, we worship goddesses. For a goddess worshipping nation, we’re pretty blind to the goddesses that walk among us. If India treats its daughter’s bad, it treats its daughters-in-law even worse. I come from a privileged family, where I have been the apple of my father’s eye. But for every one girl like me, there are a 1000 who don’t have the life I did. I want to be hopeful and say that the situation is not as bleak as I think. For every sentence I’ve written here, people will give me me a 100 examples to the contrary. But for every one of those examples, I have 1000 which prove them wrong.
- Our Utter Lack of Accountability – By and large, Indians don’t like being accountable to anyone for anything. We don’t accept mistakes, and consequently, we don’t stop making them. We certainly don’t forgive anyone who points out our mistakes and proves themselves right. We ban whatever offends our sensibilities whether the ban is logical or not, whether it is constitutional or not, and then we think about banning whoever opposes the ban! The general attitude towards complaints seems to be – If I don’t Look, Maybe They’ll Go Away! I was almost paralysed with shock recently, when the GHMC (Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation) actually took my complaint seriously and fixed the the ‘dead for several months’ streetlights in my street! And what are rules anyway? Do we care if not following them endangers us and others around us? Think helmetless riders and pillion riders of two wheelers (Yes, I am OBSESSED with telling people to wear helmets when riding front or pillion).
- Our Inability to Mind Our Own Business and Let Others Mind Theirs– Everybody in India has heard the following sentence or some variation of the following sentence at least once in their lives – “Log/Samaj/<insert random neighbour or acquaintance’s name> Uncle/Aunty Kya Kahega/Kahenge?” , which loosely translated means “What’s every other inconsequential person who you don’t give a damn about or won’t meet for more than 20 mins in your whole life going to say about your life decisions?” I bet we listen to our own selves even lesser than Pinocchio listened to Jiminy Cricket! We listen to our parents (not something I’m against) who in turn listen to every person willing to give them their two cents about our life and our ways (something which I am dead against). For every Indian that follows his/her dream, news, there are at least 50 whose aspirations are nipped in the bud thanks to their concerns about who’s going to say what about them. Studies, career, relationships, marriage, life and death, nothing escapes the purview of the omniscient Indian Well-Wisher.
But at the same time, we’re very good at immediately claiming connections to those who do beat the odds make it big, whether they are actually still Indians or not. Think Satya Nadella, Sundar Pichai and Punit Renjen and Nina Davuluri. Think every spelling bee champion, and every school topper abroad, and every person with even the remotest connection to India. These are probably people who would be ignored and discouraged had they been in India, but now that they’re not here, just cannot stop drooling over their achievements! Stop the slobbering please !
- Our Tendency to Compare Everything in the Universe to Everything Else in the Universe – We Indians LOVE to compare. We compare everything from our clothes, cars and salaries to our kids and their marks with those of everyone we know directly or indirectly. Some might say comparison fuels competition, and competition is good. But is it really? What do psychologists say?
- Our Shameless Hypocrisy – Indians are hypocrites. Period. I will not re-iterate what a million other articles have already said.