DISCLAIMER: Before you go ahead and place your eyeballs on the second para, I’d like to let the reader know that if he/she is one of those Indians who cannot handle criticism and is easily offended by the bitter truth and facts, then please stop right here and do NOT go ahead with the article. I just don’t wanna die 🙂
I’m assuming that if you’re reading this line you’ve agreed to the above disclaimer, also assuming that you are one hell of a rational thinker, unbiased and not too sensitive towards criticism of the facts and truths of life, especially the ‘Indian’ life. Here we go…
Sitting for a Cultural Studies lecture the other day, our professor decided to take up the topic of ‘orientalism’. He went on to discuss how the cultures of the what he called ‘hegemonic’ American society was taking over ours. He went on to state that the US mocks the prevailing concept of caste in our country, yet overlooks its own culture of discrimination on color. He then went on to play an audio of a journalist (I don’t really remember whether he was British or Indian settled in India, but he had a British accent) who sarcastically praised the ‘anarchy’ of the Indian system. Sarcastically listing down some of the flaws in the Indian system, that every Indian encounters in his/her daily routine. But the highlight of his talk was that we Indians accept that we have a highly flawed system yet we choose to ‘adapt’ to it instead of correcting it, all in the name of one big word – freedom. After listening to him, I took a minute to think about it all. I heard the response of some of my classmates and realised that they all actually, ridiculously supported the fact that it’s good to have the quality of ‘adaptability’. But wait, how are we all overlooking the part that every flaw that we are adapting to is still a continuing flaw! It made me realise what top-notch hypocrites each and every one around me, including me is.
We as citizens of a nation rich in ‘culture’, sit on our comfy couches, criticise the government, have the audacity to criticise ‘bribes’, criticise the public officials, criticise the entire society, and drag this audacity to the extent of criticising OTHER countries and their systems? Considering the matter that our professor brought up regarding America overlooking the discrimination on color yet, mocking our culture of the still-prevailing caste system, well of course US has the advantage to mock our culture because we Indians go around blowing our trumpets loud and clear about preserving our so called ‘prestigious’ culture without thinking twice what it even consists of! Every country has a USP that they bank on, none go advertising about something they know is a universal disgrace. But here we have India. ‘Mera bharat mahaan’, who goes around promoting equality and peace when internally itself we have the world’s biggest menace – caste! Now what you may be thinking is, “ok Keith we get it, we have a problem of caste, but that’s it! Every other aspect of the Indian culture is praiseworthy”. Well to that thought, lets now broaden the term culture to the term ‘system’. Let’s analyse some daily tit-bits that every Indian claims to just ‘go with the flow’– the ‘Indian system’ .
A simple example of the traffic signal. If you’re an Indian reading this, the words ‘traffic signal’ might have already brought a smile on your face. But wipe that smug smile off your face right now! Every day I walk from my home to the railway station to commute to college. I have to cross just one junction on the way, a junction that has something called a signal. As soon as the signal turns red for the vehicles, the vehicles continue to pass. Ok, maybe these lunatics are just color blind. That’s perfectly fine, but wait, we now have enslaved traffic cops put in a place where there are working signals, to control a herd of lunatic, color blind drivers and riders. But apparently we Indians have something called ‘ego’ issues that we’d like to exhibit in public and also to the law, so we jump the ‘stop’ gesture of the cop too! If we Indians cannot abide by 3 simple colors to keep safety and harmony, how do you expect any sort of harmony in our lives? What culture is this? There is one culture that’s taught to us by our immediate surroundings (our family) and the other that we learn from the rest of the world. The culture of breaking signals will reign forever as long as we have egoistic, lunatic, color-blind drivers and riders taking over the roads today. The examples can go on and on, regarding train timings, ‘time’ on the whole in India, offense towards slang, etc.
Another ridiculous idea that a classmate of mine brought up was regarding the concept of zebra crossings. He said that its funny and stupid that in countries abroad, people do not cross the road if they don’t see zebra crossings. I felt like standing up and laughing so hard at this statement. The whole point of a zebra crossing is that pedestrians can cross roads safely without having to think twice. Zebra crossings are not placed anywhere and everywhere. They are strategically placed either before road bumpers or signals so that vehicles slow down giving you peace of mind to cross. Just because our government places zebra crossings like its placing diamonds on the roads (placing them so rarely, even if placed they are hardly visible) doesn’t mean you criticise the concept of zebra crossings.
Agreed that we possess the freedom that some citizens of other countries possess not even 1/10th of what we do. But coming to think of it, is this freedom even worth it? Are we rolling in the freedom to be the hypocrites that we are? What frustrates me is not the flaws of this country but the balls and the audacity us Indians have to criticise other nations and their cultures, when ours is 10 times worse. Instead of educating us to change our country we are being shaped to think wrong of other countries. If this is what the education system is designed to do – shape our minds to build up on our already existing ego, all I see is our country’s progress going down the drains – the also, extremely sad drainage system that we possess.
Peace Out! 😀