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Do We Belong..?

Authored By Adisha WS:

What makes one belong to their country?

You see it all those patriotic movies. “I love India.” They shake you to your core at all that’s been sacrificed for our nation and have you beaming proud at being Indian. And yet in reality, we see the news, see the state of the country around us and shake our heads in despair.

I wonder what those great leaders of yesterday, who fought for the freedom and constitution of our nation would feel should they see the state of the country today.

A nation where people are fighting over culture, language, status and lifestyle.
A nation where progress is limited to a few cities.
A nation which is straining under the weight of the population that grows exponentially.
A nation where whole communities are trying to turn the country into a jig saw puzzle.
A nation where movie stars are prayed to as Gods.
A nation where any system works smoothly only when it is a well bribed machine.
A nation where being street smart is the ONLY strategy to survive.

And this is just within the country. Abroad we have the section of Indians who hold on tight to their beliefs as if it’s all a dying, ancient art, so as to nag the next generation about what it means to belong. The other section that’s being born and brought up abroad are only able to feel anything for their country on the few visits they make for their family and relatives. They are torn between the land where they grew up and the land where they truly belong. Both sections see the perspective from an outsider’s point of view and are left confounded, wondering what the future will hold.

And yet, with all the above we have people proud to be Indians. Is it not a conundrum?

I recently went back to India after 2 years. Apprehensive thanks to assorted stories from the media and friends. Oh! I had friends telling me that things have modernized in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore on par to countries abroad. Yet, I wasn’t going to one of the Big cities. This trip I’d be covering the smaller cities and villages. I stepped onto Indian soil not sure of what to expect, sure of a miserable time ahead.

Lo and behold – I did fall sick. The potholes on the roads had me almost to tears and the constant begging had me feeling despair at the state of children today. And yet, as the days flew by, I found myself being enveloped whole by the quirks of each city, that had me appreciating life in India once again.

The smell of the earth when it rains. The road side thelas and dhabas that will have you wolfing down goodies no matter what the condition of your stomach. Haggling over prices with business men who just want to make you their customer for life. Kites in the sky, rangoli on the ground and green lush fields along banks of endless rivers. Relatives surrounding you with gossip and laughter in times of joy and words of comfort when the chips are down. Only in India can one see the gradual integration of the old with the new where grandparents accept the modern ways of their young ones with grace and dignity. People on the roads who seem to be standing there with the sole purpose of giving you directions. Neighbors who are surprisingly always there whether you are going out or in. The long, exhausting journeys one takes only to be rejuvenated by the contrast of culture in the next city. Encouragement and patience of people to teach your their language, dances, recipes and way of life. You are left in awe at the rainbow of cultures. All the little things that have you thinking, ‘Man! It happens only in India … ‘

That’s when I realized that it’s not those other negative things that one concentrates on, but those little things that one holds on to when thinking of their country. I know what I enjoy are only a part of what makes India desirable, but that’s what keeps me wanting to go back, dreaming for a better tomorrow for it.

I figure, that is what those people fought for, all those years ago. An idea. An idea of what they dreamt their country would be like once free. The idea of a progressive, open minded, educated, hopeful country, with all the glories of today, minus all the nuisances of yesterday.

Truth is underneath the uncouth facade, most people today too have the same hopes. In their own way using whatever means available – be it providing for the needy or just creating awareness of a cause using the internet.
Now, when I think of India and it’s progress I imagine a Duck in a pond, looking calm and carefree, maybe careless even from above but one can see it’s legs paddling ferociously below the water. The distance it travels is another matter entirely.

The world is getting smaller, each a country’s capability – a sum of every citizen’s contribution. You can push it together or pull it apart. So being an Indian is not a matter of where you are anymore. It’s more a question of what one believes their country is capable of and how they contribute to the country’s progress. That is when one truly belongs.


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