Saturday, January 28, 2006

Our Glorious Past

So while surfing the net, I came across this article. It talks about three Indian Americans who were among the forty who made it the Intel Science Talent Search competition. I am pretty certain that similar headlines made their way to the Economic Times, Times of India, and pretty much every other Indian newspaper. Goes along really well with the scores of forwarded emails that keep finding their way into my inbox, waxing eloquent about our nation's achievements. Especially in comparison with the only current superpower, the USA. For example, I remember reading with pride that the debacle that was the 2000 US election could not happen in our country, because the fathers of our constitution were intelligent enough to institute the Election Commission. Besides, which Indian cannot remember the email about how half the American economy depends on Indians, (while surely an exaggeration, there are plenty anecdotal evidences, to show that Indians do indeed play a remarkably important role in the US economy.) No other immigrant community in the US is as influential as the Indian. Maybe the spanish speaking community are a great political catch, but that is only because of numbers, and they are economically very weak.

So seeing this article, after arising the usual feelings of patriotic glory, got me thinking. So what exactly about these kids is making me so happy? What has led to these three being highlighted in nearly every newspaper in a country 2 continents across? Well because they are Indian - Americans. How did it take so long for me to latch onto that? Maybe its because I am really stupid. Or maybe it is because I think the Indian in their Indian-American qualification is a misnomer. What is so Indian about them? Lets see. Are they citizens of the country called India? Umm...no, thats why they have that American following the Indian. So is it because they have probably been raised in a culture which can be uniquely described as Indian? Well, in that case, is anyone who does not believe or follow that unique Indian culture not Indian? Or if tomorrow Britney Spears decides that she wants to wear sarees, a mangalsutra, and the whole shebang, and does not want to divorce more than 2 people in her lifetime, she is also an Indian-American? Does not sound right to me, so I dont think the culture issue is the answer. Maybe its their names and religions? Nah...that is way off. I dont even need to argue that one. Color of the skin? Blasphemy! Probably the fact that probably (however, at least this article does not mention it), its beacuse their parents are direct immigrants from India. However, that is like saying that a farmer in Africa should be proud of Michael Jordan, for having been the richest sportsperson in the world.

My point is that, we, as Indians (here I mean the people who are citizens of the Republic of India), have been serious underachievers. We know we are capable of so much more, and not having achieved to our capabilities, look out for the weakest link we could find with achievers across the world, to boost our egos and self esteem. Hence we have adopted pretty much everyone who is a descendant of anyone who has ever been a part of this country. This attitude has resulted in a severe identity crisis and has led to a sense of achievement when in fact we should be bearing the burden of gross failure as a nation and a people. I mean, even this article which is being proudly displayed in newspapers as a sign of Indian genius, only shows how India is incapable of encouraging talent, although it has amongst the most talented individuals on the planet. Indians need to go to other countries to be able to succeed and flourish. We keep talking about India being the next superpower, and have quoted everyone from Nostradamus to Bejan Daruwalla to show why this will be true, yet if we compare our progress to China in the last five years, ours is nothing but a story rich in embarrassments. We constantly compare ourselves to China, but our economy is about 2 and a 1/2 times smaller than China's. Their GDP is about 8 trillion dollars while ours is only about 3 1/2 trillion. And yeah, they are also growing faster than us...much faster. And their expatriates actually generate business for their country.

Its about time that we stop fooling ourselves and adopting every achiever with the remotest connection to our nation, as one of our own. Its about time we realize that we have fucked up, stand on our feet and do something about it. Its about time we stop talking about our great nation, and actually start creating a great nation. Personally, I believe that every history book on the nation should be banned, because we all find safe comfort in our glorious history, which makes it easier for us to achieve our present lethargy, and prevents us from struggling to achieve all that our nation is capable of. While we are doing this, it might be advisable to stop celebrating a single olympic medal as a success but recognize it as the symbol of glorious national underachievement that it actually is.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dude...i agree....we gotta stop living in the past!Its high time!

Hiren Shah said...

The last paragraph is wonderfully expressed.

The issue is to make India great all over again and make history repeat itself. Dwelling on past glory is as silly as boasting about one's inheritence.

The main issue is to identify what is it that makes Indians great abroad and why do they fare poorly in India iteself. The former managing direcor of Proctor and Gamble, Mr Gurcharan das has some very good answers in his excellent book "India Unbound"

Anorion said...

sounds like a post written after watching Rang De Basanti. Problem is that Indians reach their potentials only outside the country. We think the inertia of our past will take us into the future, and are satisfied with this.

abhay said...

not commnting on the post jus using this to say i am finally back and no more ditching promise ..... ok fine about the post nice observation now if only the rest of the nation could dtch themselves fomr their feeling of pride and see the staryk reality we'll defintely be heading somewehere....take care bro...

Anonymous said...

dude.. if i emigrate to us, become a citizen , i will be an indian-american :)