April 20, 2021
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'I Was And Still Am A Proud Indian'

'I Was And Still Am A Proud Indian'

The recent article reflecting on Modi's year that was, coupled with someone mailing me a set of photographs of a city, where the photographer had imposed photographs from 60+ years ago with the present day scene and how so much had changed, yet the same, prompted the thought on how our society has changed over the past 40-50 years....I was and still am a proud Indian.

There was a time when the children used to wake up to "aa leke chalu me leke tujhe ek aise gagan ke tale", now they wake up the to the throbbing beat of "chipka le saiyan fevicol se".

There was a time when delicate gestures in Kathak elegantly told a story to entertain, now pelvic thrusts and gyrations (the more exaggerated the better, if I may add) to the titillating tunes of "Sheila ki Jawani", "Baby Doll", "Munni Badnam hui" thrill the delirious crowd.

There was a time when women were treated with respect, now the children hear the B and M words as part of the daily vocabulary and the young boys grow up with the notion that it is a badge of honor to treat women badly.

My father told me a story of how at an intersection, people used to stop, even if there was no traffic because of the Stop, Look and Go sign, now traffic lights are seen as deterrents to progress to be ignored and used for campaign billboards.

There was a time when clothes were used for adorning the body, now it is the lack of them.

Children grew up with Courtesy and etiquette as part of the norm, now they believe being brash and loud is good behavior.

Children worked hard to be erudite, now they want to inherit fancy cars and branded clothes

Live and let live used to be the way of life, now it is fast becoming I am right and you need to live life as I say.

The leaders went to jail then as they have been now. They were arrested then as freedom fighters, they now go to jail for rape and murder and are the present role models.

Respect was earned by actions, now it is by decrying others.

Respect for the nation defined the actions, putting down the past to showcase oneself is now used to arouse jingoism. 

Depth of intelligence and thought was prevalent then, you scratch the surface now, shallowness and ego is revealed.

Our leaders were well versed with the treatises written by Tagore, Nayar, Dr. Radhakrishnan etc., now they can barely read...

They were open minded and had the depth and diversity of knowledge then, and now...

Our schools produced scholars then, they now produce certificates.

Intellectual achievements were honored, hooliganism and vitriol is now the path to success.

Intellectual debates were open and scholarly with diverse views welcomed, not it is "I am right, you are wrong" end of story.

Expertise and knowledge was hard earned and evaluated, these day internet sensationalism has made everyone an expert.

Opinions were cultured and constructive then, now they are like arseholes, everyone has one and it usually stinks

Suave and poise defined the peoples representatives then, the "goonda" look is now in.

One could live anywhere then, now where you live is defined by sectarian boundaries.

Everyone was treated with respect, including the enemies, now it is all about "me".

There were rules and protocols for all engagements, it is now all about slinging mud.

Corruption was frowned upon, now it is the way of life.

Sense of dignity is now misconstrued as loud hollow noise.

There was humanity then, now there is apathy...

Nation was paramount then, now it is the party.

Culture of tolerance and forgiveness has been overlaid with seditious rabble-rousing

I wonder if this is what Tagore had envisaged when he wrote:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

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