Wednesday, November 26, 2008

MY INDIA, YOUR INDIA, OUR INDIA

While blogging a few days ago I came across a poem in Urdu that had been translated into English by the blogger. This poem made a lot of sense to me. It said something like, 'I had no say, or control, over the place, family, caste, religion, nation etc. that I was born in and yet I am ready to fight and give my life over each of these issues'. This is what I took away from that poem, and it is so true, if you dispassionately sit and think about it.

I am also reminded of a story of one family that had twins. When young one of the children would fight with his twin over an issue like 'these are my parents, they are not your parents' and the other would yell back, 'no these are my parents, not yours'. This would go on for some time and they would finally end up crying and come to blows over this issue. A few years later when these two kids grew up, they realised that this was one of the biggest non-issues that they had been fighting over. Their parents belonged to each of them, primarily because they had given birth to both of them.

I was lucky to have been born in India. I grew up, completed my schooling, went to the National Defence Academy, joined the Indian Air Force and spent the better part of my life in a service where I never judged any body by his caste, religion, parentage, or state of birth. Everyone was an Indian who was ready to do what was needed to serve the country, even including laying down one's life in the line of duty. We represented people from all religions, castes, states, etc. and never felt that India was only mine. Each one of us stood by the Indian flag and the Indian Constitution, and that is how it should be. Our differences were personal but we all belonged to India, and this added to our strength as a nation. Our brotherhood was without any considerations for our personal differences.

We were lucky to serve all over this great and varied land, from the Siachin glacier in the mighty Himalayas to Trivandrum and Andaman Nicobar islands in the South; from Dibrugarh in the East to Bhuj in the West. Never once did we feel out of place in any part of this magnificient country. I have flown over nearly the whole of India and have seen the rivers, the deserts, the Himalayas, the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian sea. Ours is a rich and varied country with diversity in every conceivable way. I am not sure if one would find any other country with the diversity that we have. I will be writing on the diversity later.

My experience in the recent past has not been too happy. I find political parties trying to make Biharis, Marathis, Muslims, Hindus, etc. out of Indians. Each party is actually trying to send out a message that this is 'my India, not yours'. This is similar to the incident I narrated about the two siblings earlier. Can we the people grow up and realise that this India is not mine, or yours, but OURS. Why? Like the two siblings were born to the same parents, we are all born in this God's own country - India. This land has always through millenia given refuge to people persecuted anywhere else in the world. This country has always had a large heart. And now we are fighting amongst each other, amongst people who belong here and are not from an alien land. Please donot be mislead by some power hungry politician who is trying to carve his own constituency by inciting people against each other. These politicians are thankfully in a very small minority.

The only way to defeat the evil designs of these small minority of negative elements of society is through believing and behaving that this is OUR INDIA - as much yours, as mine and we all have the same rights and responsibilities as citizens as per the Constitution and nobody can take that away from any of us. Keep the Indian flag flying, even when you must protest - you could belong to any party, state, religion or caste. We are all Indians and our flag is the highest symbol of unity - keep it flying high always. Omar Abdullah hit the nail on the head when he said something like 'I am a Muslim and an Indian'. We have our personal identities and we have a national identity. Our dealing with each other in the public realm should always be as Indians. Our India would then shine, as it has always been destined to. I believe in it.........do you???

19 comments:

Indian Home Maker said...

Loved this post!!! I think this my angst too !
As a Defence Officer you have served a Nation, not just Rajasthan, Maharshtra or Gujarat. The recent hatred has shocked all Indians who have grown up taking pride in India's unity and diversity.
But if there are people like you I am sure we can remind the Indian people of how we became a Nation and what this divisiveness might cost us!

my space said...

A bsolutely..We need more people like you..i loved the story about twins..we spend half our lives arguing about non issues !
Today is a black day for india..mumbai is in a bad shape..we are all worried and apprehensive about our future..

Balvinder Singh said...

Very right Joshi. In fact the only difference between the siblings fighting over their parents and us is that we are not growing up because we are reminded time and again about our different castes, religions, status etc by the greedy poiliticians. The words like Ram and Rahim, Hindu and Muslim, Brahmin and Dalit are given different connotations by these vote hungary scoundrels. But the misfortune is that we fall into their trap.

Anonymous said...

I also served the IAF and I fully agree with Joshi. A formation of 4 fighters could have a Muslim, Hindu, Christian & Sikh pilots as members, but it made no difference to any of the mebers - each had his own task to perform, as team mates and individually. The same went for the maintenance crew, the logisticians and so many other inter-related professionals who made the IAF tick over smoothly. Against this background I recently went to the Pune RTO for issue of an Int'l Driving Licence. However the officer on duty pointed out that my passport had been issued in Hyderbad and my driving licence in Delhi. This happened 'cos I happened to be posted at these places when the need for issue/renewal of these documents arose. The rules, the officer stated, required the passport and driving licence to be issued in the same city, ie Pune. After arguing for a while in vain, I changed tack and told the officer that being in the IAF I had on several occasions intercepted hostile PAF tracks but that I never stopped to ask whether they were headed for Gujarat, Rajasthan or Maharashtra! The officer suddenly seemed to see the logic of my argument and promptly waived the 'same city' rule and issued the licence!!

J P Joshi said...

I woke up this morning to this horrific news about Mumbai. I am totally shocked about the loss of life of innocent people, as also the audacity of these terrorists. It is now high time that we take a unified stand against terror - without politicising it into Hindu or Muslim terror. Terrorism has no religion, and needs to be dealt with by the STATE with ALL citizens coming together to defeat the evil designs of the terrorists and also ensuring that our politicians do not play dirty politics on this issue. I have no doubt citizens would come forward and help the state in unravelling these terror strikes - these would not have been possible without the connivance of some of the local population. This incident may well be the turning point in our fight against terrorism. Jai Hind.

J P Joshi said...

Indian Home Maker: All Indians would have to pull together to help our nation move forward. I believe it will happen as soon as one good leader appears - and that day is not far. How? I don't know but I have faith in the collective Indian wisdom. It never fails in the long term.

my space: I agree with you it sure is a black day for Mumbai, India and the world - terrorists brazenly attacking innocent people. However, all this will pass and I am sure things can only get better from here. We must keep faith.

Balvinder: This is an event that no politician can ignore and I am sure they are also doing soul searching. I hope and pray that this is a turning point in our national politics.

J P Joshi said...

Anonymous: Have we met. Good to hear from another colleague and thank you for your comment. By the way, you handled the RTO staff very well.

On retirement in 1996, I blew my top off at the staff at the Ration Card office in NOIDA(used the choicest punjabi swear words at the top of my voice) when he told me that I could be a Bangladeshi. However, his boss called me in and issued the ration card without any further fuss. I now realise that our civilian population and administration are totally ignorant about what the defence forces are all about. The defence forces are themselves to blame partly because we hardly have any PR apparatus educating our fellow countrymen. In uniform we prefer to live a very cocooned life.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi JPJ :)

OUR INDIA is an utopian dream in India.

My India as far as my local interests are concerned, your India as far your interests are involved and Our India only when our national security is threatened. Even that I doubt very much because BJP has already started blaming the Central Government for the terrorist attacks on Bombay.

Best wishes :)

Usha Pisharody said...

We have been moving from the whole to parts, for a bit of time now, haven't we?

What no enemy could make us do, we are doing ourselves, sometimes, I feel. The politics of divisiveness. A secular fabric that is India is being torn to shred by vote bank politics. So much so, that even little children are willing to fight for their language, religion and what not!

And that is where the example of the Defence Services shines... the country first and always. and ONLY the country.

Salutes to those who still feel this way. And when , not if, we ingrain in young minds, this particular aspect, I think we would have done the best thing ever, for this country.

Ajit said...

@JPJ,
Loved this post!
I still believe in India and in the "Indian Dream"......
What you said is so true.....
we indians, should and will always feel at home whether we are in kashmir or kanyakumari.......

J P Joshi said...

JP: Thank you for your comment.

What you are saying about the present state of India is very true. However, I disagree with you on the 'utopian dream' part. India comprises of each one of us and if we start feeling 'OUR INDIA', it will happen. Martin Luther King had a dream in the 60s and today we have President elect Obama in the US. India is not the US, you would say. Well, Mahatma Gandhi had a dream of freedom from the largest empire on earth. It seemed impossible back then but 1947 was not too far. One has to believe and work towards the belief. We Indians are too cynical. We need to overcome our cynicism and plot our own destiny - the future is in our control if only we do the right things in the present, I believe.

J P Joshi said...

Usha Pisharody: India is an idea - I believe, a Divine dream of diversity - there is no other country like this in the world. WE ARE India and we need to feel, believe and behave as custodians of this Divine dream. How?

I never asked this question as long as I was in uniform because I never needed to. We believed in being Indian. We were untouched by the politicians and their divisive politics. However, we the people in the civvy street need to find a way to stop our politicians from exploiting our personal differences for their personal gains. I have hope, like you say. I also have faith in the collective wisdom of India.

J P Joshi said...

Ajit: Thank you. Our collective belief will ensure the Indian Dream never fails. We all need to work on it - it is not easy, looking at the way things are BUT nothing good comes cheap - you would surely know that.

Indian Home Maker said...

"What no enemy could make us do, we are doing ourselves, sometimes"

Loved Usha Pisharody's comment. Agree completely. We need these thoughts for any positive change to take place
.... 'the country first and always. and ONLY the country. ' Is worth remembering.

J P Joshi said...

IHM: Agree with your comments completely. Usha's comments are very incisive, and true. Yes, ....'the country first and always. and ONLY the country'.

Reflections said...

....'the country first and always. and ONLY the country'.

Loved ur post sir.....related to it completely. Even all the comments here are so thought provoking....& am sure when confronted individually all people of India will echo this.
But somewhere along the same line, for some the sentiment is tarred with religious & political agendas.
A sad state indeed.....

J P Joshi said...

Reflections: There is a change in the air already. It is sad that the people had to be jolted out of their lethargic, cynical, chalta hai attitude by the horrific attacks in Mumbai. The politicians are following the public mood. The parliamentary session on 11 Dec 08 was an example of how the affairs of the state need to be conducted. Before that the state elections gave results that shows that our people are alive to the problem. It won't take long now.. for things to change, if we do not get back to our old ways.

bigotblog said...

Wonderful post!

I find it rather sad that people get away with such hatered and bigotry. It's a shame in fact. What makes it worse is the justification that they gove for it. It sounds so logical at times, no wonder prejudice comes so easily.

Anyways, do drop my blog sometime,
http://bigotblog.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/new-political-party-launch/

Siddharth.

J P Joshi said...

bigotblog: Thank you for your visit and your comment.