The Country of My Dreams

It’s that time of the year again when we reminisce the unyielding struggles made by our valiant ancestors so we could have a better, a liberal future. That time of the year when every Indian rises in pride, hoists the tricolour flag and chants in unison “Mera Bharat Mahan” (“My India is the greatest”.) That time of the year when we scoff at the two century long despotic British Raaj and gleam with gratification and the widest smirk. (Ha! We did it, we drove the oppressors out and became the world’s largest democracy, take that now “Great” Britain)

August 15, the Indian Independence Day is a day of immense pride for some, a day of utter sloth for some, a day of enormous discounts in your favourite stores for some, a day of “I don’t care what has happened to the country as long as I get a holiday” for some and a day of exotic weekend getaways from some.

There are two kinds of persons on Independence Day. The one who raises his head with triumph and gleams with national sentiment with the conviction of being a proud Indian and the grumpy person constantly criticizing on how we’ve misused our freedom, how we never deserved independence, how we’ve led ourselves to despair, how this country is awful and the sole option lies in migrating to the West, away from poverty and misery to a life of sheer rectitude. To the people who belong to the latter school of thought, I’d just like to say one thing, you’re wrong.

I may not be in the county of my dreams but I have millions of people striving to get me there and that matters more than anything ever will.

The people who see the worse in this country, who consider it to be an appalling piece of land plagued with corruption, poverty and maladies often forget about their contribution to this sad state of affairs. They sing the praises of lush, clean countries found in the West while heedlessly throwing litter off their cars. They complain about poverty but never act to alleviate it. They complain about traffic and dearth of space but never think twice before hoarding tens of swanky cars. And let’s not start with the “Who perpetuates corruption?” game. We all have in one way or another.

People complain there’s social depredation. People complain that this country is “an assault on all human senses” People complain of how much it sucks. But guess what? We’re not perfect; we’re not supposed to be perfect. We’re growing and we won’t cease. In the teeth of every difficulty, in spite the wide scale problems (or rather population?) and despite all conflict and malfeasance, we’ll get there. You know why? Because the ruptured roads, the unscrupulous politicians, the religious extremists and other discriminatory dimwits don’t constitute the country. They never have and they never will. The buoyant children , the cognizant teens, the industrious adults, the dissidents fighting the shoddy system, the women breaking all stereotypes, the awe inspiring athletes, the fearless soldiers, the patriotic seniors and people like you and me doing even the smallest thing with the sole object of improving the condition of the nation are the ones who do.

This country teaches me so much every day, every minute, every second that I can never be grateful enough. I’ve lived in the city of Bombay my entire life and I’ve been surrounded with people who hustle, work long hours, going from nowhere to everywhere and fulfilling each of their dreams which has inspired me in ways unimaginable.

I’ve seen the warmth and unconditional love people share. This country has made me affable and emphatic. You’re not just loved, you’re smeared with affection. The close-knit communities, the cultural traditions, the many festivals, the wedding rituals bond us with ties unbreakable.

This country has taught me morals and values of the greatest nature. Respect, duty, dignity, generosity and diligence have been embedded in every child from the time of their very birth. The essence of dharma (duty) and karma (righteous action) permeates in daily course of life of every individual.

Diversity. There’s so much of it. The most alluring aspect is the unity in this diversity. The urban youth teaching English to the rural children, the privileged fiercely fighting for the rights of the underprivileged, people helping other people in need regardless of religious biases, people from the most deprived backgrounds, beating all odds and slaying it in the Rio Olympics. This land comprises of persons speaking over 300 different languages, worshiping over thousand different Gods who still manage to live in harmony abreast of each other.

But I’m so sick and tired of all the whining. All the “India is such an awful country, what has happened to us?” I do it too, undoubtedly but how often is it that we forget to appreciate the nuances which make our country so beautiful? Believe it or not, we still live in a country far better off than myriad other countries in the world. We still have passionate citizens working relentlessly to put this country at a higher pedestal. We still have so much bloody potential.

I’m not denying the flaws. I’m not denying the rampant corruption, inefficiency, lack of organization, religious division and I could go on and on. But the silver lining of the entire situation is that while there are hundreds of people making attempts to ruin and deteriorate the country, there are millions trying to make it great. Which one are you?

A very Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Indians. Proud is the only thing you should be today.

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