A country is not its geographical extensions, its constitution, its cultural heritage, its militia as much as it is an idea of togetherness. For the nature’s fury can alter its geographical dimensions; the constitution can be rewritten; the culture might become irrelevant and the militia can lose a war. But the idea of togetherness is strong enough to preserve itself for posterity notwithstanding the impetus.
I’m technically a little naïve person by choice. So I couldn’t get to wrap my head over the fracas surrounding Tanmay Bhat’s sacrilegious “snapchat video”, perpetrated against -harbingers of Indian pride- a popular cricketer and a film singer. Ironically, the news of the exchequer being conned of a few lakh crores, didn’t garner as much flak from the trigger happy tongues that seems to dismiss bad humor as being anti-national.
Ours is a country with a generation on tenterhooks as its face, voice and intention. We sachet ourselves in western brands from head to toe. Go in power suits and formal jackets to meetings notwithstanding the tropical nature of this part of the world. We look down upon a bad color combination, incriminate someone’s faux-pas from the authority that we derive out of our imaginary roots in Milan.
Yet we wouldn’t take our eyes off a low neck sporting woman’s cleavage, because we’re after all right to get provoked by a provocative clothing.
We would so fondly relegate our ethnic clothes to one-off occasions-family reunions, big fat weddings, temple visits – to only make a fuss about how being Indian is a surreal experience which no amount of first person account description would be able to contain in words, on social media pages.
We would surreptitiously watch porn on incognito mode in closed confines, but a few of us would condescend porn stars making public appearances (notwithstanding the fact that they unlike us were not hiding while acting in them) and then judge the ones who condescended them, so embracingly through solidarity hashtags during four ‘o clock recess from workplace.
We would enroll into tinder and would expect to make innocent outcomes out of it like “genuine friendship”, “brotherhood” and get offended by a person’s forthcoming move. All this despite a suggestive red flame for its logo and the objectifying modus operandi involved in swiping to “matching”.
We are cross-over Indians, who think global and act local. Ours is a culture that finds its footing in the fledgling middle ground between imitation and inspiration. We at some level are the evolved aftermaths of our colonial rule- the language of which continues to be the “unity” in our diversity. Our rustic-desi self is only a scratch below our globalized outer surface that springs up with fiduciary interest every time an English word is pronounced wrongly , while getting offended by someone walking into a temple wearing jean shorts.
We’ll set set alarms to catch up with an episode of “Game of thrones” at auspicious wee hours, but would feel unsettled about a friend’s one night stand from the previous night.
Our conscience that earlier sounded like us, now sounds like Arnab Goswami; courtesy the daily newshour debating shenanigans. Everyday an issue that brews up is brought to the show along with its accompaniments in the form of opinionated loud mouths to dichotomise as “for” and “against”. The newshour debates are often classic case studies on making mountains out of moles, differences out of difference of opinions.
Coming back, the guests in every days’s debate are arranged in split cabinets collectively to form a border around Arnab who takes centre stage(literally) to go about heckling and peppering each participant with facts and “The nation wants to know” rhetoric.
Soon the debate turns into a verbal gladiatorial match, from being a moderated one to a moderator run one.
There is nothing wrong with being a sensitive nation. Its a great trait to possess for a land mass to have its hoi polloi reacting like its collective conscience. But volatility is not sensitivity. Sensitivity crops from a reaction to a happening not in line with being sensible. Volatility finds its roots often in the need to respond strongly in a perceived space of one-upmanship. While one involves, another instigates.
The former trait results in a constructive revolution, the latter often than not fuels unrest; making the state one full of touch-me-nots.
Be it an issue-about insurgency, embezzlement, censorship, a parody gone wrong etc-regional or national, we often align ourselves as pawns on opposite ends in a game of chess, with troops mobilized and lines drawn out; colouring ourselves black and white in tandem with our predisposition.
The issue in the end often finds itself drained down with the objectivity lost in a battle of ideologies that sees subjective stances rearing to usurp universal opinions; fashioning rights and wrongs; dos and don’ts for capricious reasons.
Ours is a diverse nation, too diverse to be unified(unless we’re playing Pakistan in the world cup) by an ideology, opinion, personality, sentiment. So India from where I’m might be a tamil speaking humid strip that belts idlis. Another person making fun of my mainstream movies would find his elixir of humor in Rohit shetty movies in his India. My India wouldn’t have a beach, his would have a lot more than one. My India’s state tax would make my alchohol almost ungettable, his India would serve it on roadside Dhabas and peanut budget weddings. My India might have temples in every alternate street, his would have theatres outnumbering schools.
So my idea of India needn’t be his .His needn’t be another’s. But together apart, we weave a nation with fabric derived from threads of individuality. The choice to express subjectively and yet continue to be unified by such choice, is the unity in diversity that we so often talk about.