My Independence Day Musing – 15 Shades of Grey in India

At the outset, let me wish all my Freedom Fanatics a Happy Independence Day!

It was exactly two years back on this very day of Independence that I had penned an open letter to Her Royal Highness Aunt Britannia reporting progress of her former colony India, my motherland. Little did I realize then that I could have appended a note on reparations as sought eloquently earlier in this year by one Mr. Shashi Tharoor, former Under-Secretary General at United Nations and sitting Member of Parliament, India.

Since HRH Aunt Britannia is not the intended recipient of this edition of my Independence Day musing, let me briefly touch upon the following 15 Shades of Grey that India must address urgently:

1) Rising India or is it?

Picture yourself on one of your mall forays.

Planning to meet your friends over a beer? Oh you are a teetotaller! Then you must be having the latest movie on your agenda? Still nodding in disapproval? Okay then either it must be the dire desire to shop or to burn a hole in your wallet at your favourite eatery. Let’s settle on any of these but hey you are going to the mall PERIOD

While on your way you’re waiting at the Stop Light, you roll down the car window to dole out a 10 Rupee note to a beggar. Yes, I am referring to The Begging Menace! Isn’t that now becoming a regular sight at almost every other traffic light you stop at? Emerging Superpower, eh?

2) Do we walk the talk on VIP’ism?

Recently, some TV channels went gung-ho trying to topple a turtle called VIP’ism onto its back. The Nation Must Know that VIP’ism has its roots ingrained into our DNA and will not be wiped cleaned that easy. We all seek exceptions to the rule at some point in time. Don’t we?

Who hasn’t availed VIP passes to events? Joining the VIP queue at Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, Tirupati Balaji, or Vaishno Devi? What do you call that? Model citizenry! It’s time we start condemning VIP’ism in all its existing shapes and forms.

3) Population Explosion 2.0

No I am not talking about the human overpopulation but India’s vehicle population which is growing in leaps and bounds. Take for instance, the Delhi-NCR region which has over 7.5 million vehicles which happens to be the highest number in the country. With easy finance available and heavily subsidised fuel to go along with, India’s rising middle class is constantly adding to the burden on the roads, flyovers, underpasses that we built in the hope of making our lives better. What is being done to take control of this escalating issue?

4) How long can we continue to rest in our laurels and ignore the ground realities?

While sending the cheapest mission on Mars is definitely something to rejoice, our worsening sanitation problems can no longer be ignored. My head hangs in shame with the equation of India as the open defecation capital of the world. Every development effort we undertake hereon will have no meaning if we are not able to address this basic human need first on priority. So next time say the factually correct thing: We are an underdeveloped nation.

5) When we make an abject surrender to religious dictates.

Barring a handful of major communal incidents, India can most definitely be dubbed as the most secular nation on the face of this earth. Having said that, I must also add that there is a tremendous sense of insecurity quietly brewing amongst followers of various religions. Be it the waging of ‘Love Jihad’ or telling community members to bear more children to race ahead, things are deteriorating at a fast and worrisome pace. Religious fanaticism is something that scares me to the core and if left unchecked it will eventually break down this magnificent nation of ours. 

6) Talking of the Environment and just talking about it.

How many of us really shut down the tap while brushing our teeth or shaving? Do we sparingly use electricity appliances and switch them off when not needed? Is it your thing to switch off the ignition of your vehicle on a stop light? These are just three small things in a list of many other novel inclusions that we can incorporate to save the precious resources of our environment. The awareness exists! Food for thought: Do our actions match the rhetoric?

7) Rightfully bowing our heads to the slain soldier but ignoring the plight of the living.

Non-implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) is one classic example of how we have let down our Armed Forces. They gave the prime of their youth to the nation in a hope their old age would be a debt their nation would repay. India is stuck in arithmetic translation so far to repay this debt! I wonder for how long?

8) No country for Good Samaritans!

Looking away or making a video while watching a woman in distress or an accident victim comes easy to the “brave citizens” of my nation. While I believe most people are insensitive and selfish to not intervene, a large number of people are actually scared of the repercussions thereafter. After all who would want to get entangled in the messy courtroom affairs and before that the mindless/endless police scrutiny. A Good Samaritan law with effective implementation is the need of the hour.

9) The Art of Not Giving.

We often make our lives miserable by comparing it to the people above us without realising that the unfortunate lot of people below can benefit from our Art of Giving. Unless a used item in our home is “OLX par bech du” worthy, we never think of parting ways with it.

Philanthropy or the Art of Giving is not restricted to wealth alone. Even if you are broke your business card can still read: XYZ, a Philanthropist.

We all have something to give, of value, to someone who is deprived of it. Here is a quick list of things that you may want to consider giving right away:

Get rid of that Emotional Clutter – It is time to give away those old books or clothes that you cling on to for pure emotional reasons. Give it to someone who needs it more than you.

Do a Random Act of Kindness – Your priceless smile can bring a big change in someone’s life. Do not hold yourself back when it comes to encouraging others and spreading what I like to call Sun Shines!

Donate Blood – It is one noble act that can save a life. Circle at least 3 dates in your yearly calendar for blood donation and bring in a change.

10) The motto of every home seems to be: “my house spick and span and my city my trash can.”

The hue and cry around Swachh Bharat has one missing point. While it is very good of the government to drive it, it will achieve no results till we the citizens keep urinating, spitting, and littering our nation. Cleanliness is an on-going process and should not be restricted to a photo-op. It’s time we become responsible citizens.

11) Diluted Patriotism

I can’t name 3 active players in any team sport other than cricket. So what?

This “chalta hai” attitude or being so unintelligent baffles me. I don’t expect you to be “KBC Ready” but basic awareness around your country speaks volumes of how seriously patriotic you are. This is one point where I am sure many might disagree.

12) I, Me, Myself!!

Another thing I hate the most in my country is this bad ass attitude of self before everyone else. You see it all the time and all around you. Be it on the road when someone is honking the hell out of the motorist driving ahead or on the metro ride refusing to be the gentleman by vacating the seat for a lady, elderly, or the needy.

13) Overworked constabulary!

Even the 30-minute pizza delivery claim has a rider of standard operating conditions to be in place. Do we provide these bare minimum good operating conditions to our cops? We haven’t cared for police reforms for yonks. Our cops are over stressed, ill equipped, and definitely unfairly treated at the hands of the machinery.

14) Food Wastage

Higher purchasing power has made us highly irresponsible too when it comes to our eating out habits. Generation Y seems to be suggesting: I have a fat wallet and I’ll order food. Bring me this, this, this, and hey don’t forget that! The end result: Food Wastage!

Malnourishment? Hungry kids?

Their take: My money! My freedom! We don’t care.

15) With this link to Will You Mind Your Line Manners, I rest my case!

Highlighting these 15 pain points was not an effort to degrade my nation at all especially on this wonderful day of Independence. Some of these issues are prevalent in other countries as well. It was my desire to bring out these grey areas for us to be morally and practically superior to everyone else, befitting of a country in hot pursuit of becoming a developed nation.

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