So what really India is?? Is it a landmass consisting of 29 states, stretching from “Kanyakumaari to Kashmir” or is it a mere idea–an idea of ‘Unity in Diversity’, which many state politicians do repeat in their prepared speeches which they deliver at the time of elections and national festivals. Lets look into what a writer sitting in the corner of the country thinks like, not only while peeping through their windows,sipping a cup of coffee but doing ground researches and meeting the unpublished minds. Arundhati Roy’s take on what the real India be like. An excerpt taken from her famous writing “The End of Imagination” which she had written a few weeks after India detonated a thermonuclear device in 1998. This excerpt somehow fits in perfectly to the current Indian scenario, the rise of pro-Hindus, some Muslim leaders coming up saying they wont sing “Bharat Mata ki Jai“( a way of salutation of the country, similar to the way in which Hindus pray to their deities), the on-going JNU row in Delhi,the country’s capital where some students were arrested on the charges of ‘sedition’ while students claim it was their right to the ‘freedom of expression’. The country is in turmoil, one positive aspect being the exercising of freedom, a no to age old customary ideas imparted on the common citizens, inclusion of different thinking, and growing up as a democracy towards even more democratic edges. Everything is being re- thought be it the Kashmir issue, the hanging of 2001 parliament attacker ‘Afzal Guru’, the idea of Azadi, the priorities-the minorities of the country, the basis on what reservations be given. Somehow we as the citizens of our country have started to think and to make think.
Coming back to the writing, here it goes…
“If there is going to be a pro-authenticity/anti-national drive, perhaps the government ought to get its history straight and its facts right. If they’re going to do it, they may as well do it properly.
First of all, the original inhabitants of this land were not Hindu. Ancient though it is, there were human beings on earth before there was Hinduism. India’s tribal people have a greater claim to being indigenous to this land than anybody else, and how are they treated by the state and its minions? Oppressed, cheated, robbed of their lands, shunted around like surplus goods. Perhaps a good place to start would be to restore to them the dignity that was once theirs. Perhaps the government could make a public undertaking that more dams of this kind will not be built, that more people will not be displaced.
But of course that would be inconceivable, wouldn’t it? Why? Because it’s impractical. Because tribal people don’t really matter. Their histories, their customs, their deities are dispensable. They must learn to sacrifice these things for the greater good of the Nation (that has snatched from them everything they ever had).
Okay, so that’s out.
For the rest, I could compile a practical list of things to ban and buildings to break. It’ll need some research, but off the top of my head here are a few suggestions.
They could begin by banning a number of ingredients from our cuisine: chilies (Mexico), tomatoes (Peru), potatoes (Bolivia), coffee (Morocco), tea, white sugar, cinnamon (China) . . . they could then move into recipes. Tea with milk and sugar, for instance (Britain).
Smoking will be out of the question. Tobacco came from North America.
Cricket, English and Democracy should be forbidden. Either kabaddi or kho-kho could replace cricket. I don’t want to start a riot, so I hesitate to suggest a replacement for English. (Italian? It has found its way to us via a kinder route: marriage, not imperialism.)
All hospitals in which western medicine is practised or prescribed should be shut down. All national newspapers discontinued. The railways dismantled. Airports closed. And what about our newest toy – the mobile phone? Can we live without it, or shall I suggest that they make an exception there? They could put it down in the column marked ‘Universal?’ (Only essential commodities will be included here. No music, art or literature.)
Needless to say, sending your children to university in the US, and rushing there yourself to have your prostate operated upon will be a cognizable offence.
The building demolition drive could begin with the Rashtrapati Bhavan and gradually spread from cities to the countryside, culminating in the destruction of all monuments(mosques, churches, temples)that were built on what was once Adivasi or forest land.
It will be a long, long list. It would take years of work. I could not use a computer because that wouldn’t be very authentic of me, would it?
I don’t mean to be facetious, merely to point out that this is surely the shortcut to hell. There’s no such thing as an Authentic India or a Real Indian. There is no Divine Committee that has the right to sanction one single, authorized version of what India is or should be.Their is no one religion or language or caste or region or person or story or book that claim to be its sole representative. There are, and can only be visions of India, various ways of seeing it- honest, dishonest, wonderful, absurd, modern, traditional, male, female. They can be argued over, criticized, praised, scorned, but not banned or broken. Not hunted down.”