The Inordinate Indian Illusion

Op-ed

“If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India.”- Romain Rolland

Labeled the land of the slums, the rape capital of the world and a country where poverty lies in every corner, India is actually one of the fastest growing economies in the world. A lot of myths have been told about this magnificent country, and it is about time that these myths are condemned for what they are- derogatory fabrications.

Unity

Behind its diverse culture and rich heritage, there’s a land filled with people who’ve managed to live in harmony with each other. With an estimated population of 1,383,826,697 people, India has done much better than most “developed” countries when it comes to their spirit of unity. We’ve managed to avoid civil wars, we don’t maintain a dictator’s regime under the pretense of communism, and we’ve never curbed the basic human rights of our citizens. Of course, we have our own faults, but then again, which entity in this world is perfect?

Diversity

India is a secular country that is home to almost 180 million Muslims in spite of the struggles it faced during the partition in 1947. We’ve awarded six religions the status of religious minorities and our country has always been associated with Unity in Diversity with respect to our 29 states. Our country has always been open to refugees of any class, color, creed or race, and we are by far one of the most accepting nations in the world.

Laws

The Indian constitution is the largest in the world and accounts for every possible law and regulation that a country might require. Opportunities for entrepreneurs and rising careers in this country are endless and change, if positive, is welcomed with open arms. Development in this country is so rapid that it’s almost alarming and the way some cities have transformed is stunning. The right to equality is the first fundamental right in this country and it is taken very seriously by its people. These are some of the many facets to this country that have never had light shed on them. Instead, the world seems to focus on the wrongs, the negatives and the faults.

Modernized

The critical and pessimistic view of today’s “fast-paced, modern” society are ghastly and it has become widely-accepted that this country is a third-world, underdeveloped one. When people from the west step into metro cities like Benguluru and Mumbai, they’re shocked to see how modern and contemporary the country has become. In fact one of my cousins’ who lives in the US, had asked me if I knew what a car was when he visited. It hurt to think that my own cousin felt that way about his birth country.

Personal experiences

My father was an officer in the Indian Navy for 22 years, and two years ago he retired. Not only was my life as a Defense BRAT (Born, raised and transferred) secure and peaceful, it took me around the country. I’ve studied in over 8 schools in 13 years and I’ve been all over the country. I’m not going to lie, we still have some under-developed places in the country. But the positives in India trump its negatives by a huge number. Yet the world seems incapable of seeing that.

Ignorance of the development

Our country is multifarious. There are so many tangents to every single element of this nation. Its presence, its history, culture, heritage and most importantly its people are rejuvenating. We’re building a better future for ourselves every single day. What most people tend to ignore is the fact that we are a new constituency. Our independence was given to us less than a century ago as opposed to the other developed countries. And in spite of being known for our growing economy, our state-of-the-art presence in the world, our skills, ancestry and so much more, we are the nation of the slums. Not the nation with the nonpareil legacy, not the rapidly growing economy that it is, not the most culturally diverse yet patriotically united country in the world. No, we are and will remain the home to the Dharavi slums.

Literacy

Another term that India is associated with is “illiterate”. There are over a billion people in the country. Out of which 64.8% are literate. Which means, in a country with around 1.3 billion people, 842,400,000 people are literate. There are around 330 million people in the United States of America. India has almost 2.5 times the educated people than the population of the USA. Statistically, India isn’t illiterate at all.

Pillars of Bharat

The critiques against this marvelous country are not only misplaced and pessimistic, but are also mythical in nature. One Academy Award movie directed by someone who doesn’t even belong to India, with lopsided and biased views should not determine the way the world looks at an entire country! Orphans, poverty and filth are not the pillars of this nation. Democracy, equanimity, diversity and ingenuity are the pillars of Bharat.

Personalities

Our country has always been the birthplace of revolutionaries that are remembered by the entire world. From the Great Jahapanah Akbar from centuries ago, to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, to Rabindranath Tagore, Mother Teresa, Vishwanathan Ananthan, P.V. Sindhu, Sania Mirza, Sachin Tendulkar, Kailash Satyarthi and innumerable other names that are quoted till date internationally.

Expectations against reality

Today, I as an Indian am proud to call this nation my birthplace. For all its faults and fallacies, India is still a magnificent country. It is with genuine concern that I look at the world-view of this country. It is shocking to think that such myths can become so widely acknowledged by educated people. It is devastating for me, as an Indian, to see how people can base such misunderstandings over a movie that was intending to spread another message altogether. No country can be perfect because it is, after all an embodiment of its people. And if no human being can be perfect then a Utopia cannot exist. However, people seem to expect a Utopia out of our nation and since it is does not, and cannot exist we’re looked at with scorn and disapproval.

Conclusion

I implore all those of you reading this article today, to look past the flaws that are being pointed out. Look at the country for what it is, a forming unit of more than a billion people who have managed to remain united on so many issues in spite of the diversity that prevails. Look at the country as the ‘Unity in Diversity’ it is. Look at it without judgement and maybe then the true colors of the Indian spirit will reveal themselves. Look at the nation carefully with a clear mind and the great Indian illusion will unravel itself.

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2020 01 23

Siya Girisaballa

Siya Girisaballa is a fifteen-year-old Navy brat from India who aspires to become a journalist someday. Owing to her father's occupation she moved around the country a lot as a child and that aspect of her life influences her writing. She's diverse yet simple and her thoughts are an embodiment of her spirit. Through her articles, she speaks the truth however complicated or subjective it might be, and hopes to inspire change in society with her words.


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