Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Frustrations of a modern Indian

The frustrations of being a "modern" India have been piling on me.
The more I read about India's achievements and successes earlier, the sadder I become. In fact, sometimes the despair is so strong that I want to stop reading about it. Ignorance surely is bliss.
The decline of India started with the turn of the last millennium with the advent of the Persian and Arab conquerors from the north-west border. It culminated in the British.
While direct physical domination is thankfully over, I do wonder if the "Indian plunder" or the massive exploitation of India is over. It seems not at all, especially with multi-national companies destroying indigenous industries in the name of free market. The politician-businessman-police-judiciary nexus is still a big, if not a worse, problem for our country. Almost no institution has changed its basic structure from the exploitative set-up of the colonial era. And almost no attempt is made to change them!
While in one hand, probably more and more Indians are realizing these predicaments, on the other hand, more and more people are falling in the trap of crass capitalism and cultural destruction. Now everyone wants a smart phone, a car, a home. There is nothing wrong on wanting these; what is wrong is wanting these at any cost. Greed is not good -- no matter what US business schools want us to believe.
Coming to this point, India has traditionally been rich always. By rich, I do not simply mean spiritually, philosophically and culturally, but also economically. It is well documented in history how India had a large share of the world's GDP till it declined sharply with colonialism. In spite of that, India rarely showed the greed and capitalism so rampant today.
Modern economic data and theories suggest that it was India's plunder that fuelled the industrial revolution in England. In return, we were tagged as the white man's burden! But then, history is always written by the conquerors.
And this is where it really hurts! We, modern Indians, are so ignorant of our own history. Our history books are what colonialists wrote for us -- full of mistakes, even in simple raw data! Do I see a course correction? No! What is undertaken by some governments is the other extreme -- an attempt to again re-write wrong history that suits the then rulers.
Yet, India, as a country, did so much in the past. It is still contributing; but, compared to the ancient world, our contributions now are almost negligible.

I can only hope that our decline has bottomed out and we can only improve from here. Philosophically speaking, all civilizations experience cycles of prosperity and poverty, and ours certainly is the oldest continuously standing civilization.
I end by invoking Rabindranath's words "Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake!"
"ভারতেরে সেই স্বর্গে করো জাগরিত!"

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