Independence Day

I have honestly never understood the idea of a nation or appreciated the sentimentality that it begets. Even though I grew up outside India and it is expected that my identity is defined by the country I was born in or from which my parents belong; I merely saw India as my grandparents’ home then.  I have many a time wondered how is it possible that 1.2 billion people with different dialects, backgrounds and stories feel kinship to an idea called India. There have been days when I have simply summed up the situation as the triumph of economic need to belong to a larger state over the need to carve out an own identity.

This is not to tell you that I have had a change of heart simply because of Independence dayand a few episodes of Satyameva Jayate. But I am beginning to see a kinship with the hope called India with every passing day. Yes, there are issues – not one, not two but innumerable. Inflation, currency de-valuation, illegal migration, corruption, unheard protests, foeticide, education, healthcare, nutrition, environment, caste based discrimination, safety of women –there is not a single news channel that at 9 p.m. talks about something good that transpired that day. It is about all the wrongs done by all those who could not escape the prying eyes of the camera. Of course the media should be vigilant, of course people should be pulled up for trying to hush up a rape case or pocketing 2500 crores meant for the healthcare of the state –but does it have to be only about the bad? This is not rhetoric – its something that I worry about. Is it true that there is absolutely no good happening which is why nothing makes it to the papers or TV? Or is it our choice to only see the wrong simply because the indignation compensates for our inaction in the day.

But even if I do consider the violent opposition of every action or inaction that occurs and the sceptic look that follows the announcement of any intention I cannot help but hope that it stems from a desire to simply see a system working better for its people.

This gooey optimism may not agree with most of you…I would be annoyed too if I made the kind of money you did and then pay the taxes you do! But I guess my optimism is also an occupational hazard. Everyday when I walk into class I see hope, dreams and the joy to make something new. I find it extremely hard to not believe that these kids will not have a chance to realise their potential and live the lives they want. I see them shaping their future one task at a time and incisively moving towards a goal they set for themselves. And something tells me if a bunch of 8 year olds can, then I am sure 1.2 billion across age groups, smarts and wherewithal can figure something out.

I do not relate to the chaos that is pouring out on the streets to resolve issues endemic to the system. But I do see the adrenalin for some form of change and that to me resembles hope – for if there was no hope, we would see indifference and not angst.

I am aware that there are elements who are striving to maintain the status quo to feed their source of power. But I believe that these elements too are now beginning to see the power of the collective.

Yes, there is a lot to be done. Of course you may not tell me but I am sure you think me teaching 30 kids, is not going to change anything for better. But let me tell you something, it is happening – things are changing and the future is looking up. It is for you to smell the wet earth. Like someone once said, some feel the rain while others simply get wet.

I still do not understand what holds all of us together. But I do see the shared past and glimmering future in the eyes of my kids and I feel like I belong to something that is larger than me – maybe it is the idea or hope that someone once called India.

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