The interim period between when I chose to go to the US for further studies and my actually going there has been filled with a flood of commentaries about the greatness of the US as a country. Though by nature I am not extremely nationalistic, I wanted to jot down some of the qualities of India as a nation, which we can be proud about.
1) The remarkable coexistence of vastly different cultures as a nation : A nation, as opposed to a state, is one where the inhabitants feel an attachment to the physical boundaries which define it. Across India, there is a sense of belonging which exists among the people, in spite of the variety of languages spoken and religions practiced. Such a coexistence has been achieved in very few countries in the world, and it results in a belief for us as individuals, that we share our joys and sorrows with over a billion people.
2) Our notions of tolerance : As a nation, we have been remarkably tolerant to people of different castes, religions and mother tongues, and rarely do we resort to violence as an answer to our problems. Moreover, attempts to divide the nation on the basis of these differences have not succeeded, though it has been tried a number of times, to the extent of polarizing people’s opinions based on these differences.
3) We have a voice : Our government is elected by us. Every 5 years, we still ensure that the people have a say in who the next leaders both at the center and the state would be. An anti-incumbency which has prevailed in several states over the last few decades is testament to this.
4) Our media is quite independent : The control of people’s opinions by the state is hardly the norm, with the media playing a key role in ensuring transparent governance, to the extent it can. Especially in recent years, with the unraveling of several scams by the government, it has indeed mobilized public opinion about the same.
5) We are open to a dynamic culture : We are open to changes in the conventional understanding of our culture and we constantly challenge this understanding through our varied art forms and popular cinema. Our culture has evolved with each generation since our independence, and a westernization of several aspects of our life, has been incorporated and accepted in our daily life.
6) Innovation is in our blood : Whether we acknowledge it or not, we have managed to achieve remarkable technological advances at affordable prices due to our ability to innovate. Cell phone rates in India are one of lowest in the world, and this has resulted in its access to people across the country. We have managed to build and install world class satellites, for surprising low costs.
7) Our national policies are not subjugated : Many of our international policies have not been controlled by the powerhouses in the world. We have had an independent stand on critical global issues, such as the possession of nuclear technology, climate change, etc.
8) Our ancient traditions are enviable : Several aspects of our life in India are governed by our past rituals. And off late, some of these traditions have received their due, probably because of its acceptance in the western hemisphere. Yoga, The Bhagavad Gita, The Ramayana and the The Mahabharat are examples of this ancient past.
9) We love our food and our sleep : It is said that traveling 100 km in any direction leads to a slightly different style of cooking. We painstakingly grind basic ingredients at our houses, and make quality food for every meal, every day, across the social strata. An afternoon siesta after a sumptuous lunch is all it takes to make our day.
10) On occasions, we know how to celebrate : The number of festivals across religions in India are numerous. And each festival is celebrated in a manner as if it were to celebrate our existence on this planet. And we definitely don’t forget the times when we win the World Cup !