>Apathy, acceptance or anger – we’ve heard about reactions of all kinds to the Delhi serial blasts. But this isn’t about the blasts, it’s about us – people like me who still cannot imagine migrating to another country despite everything that is wrong with ours, who live with terror and hope, who may wait or will a change.
What makes me an Indian who believes in Indian-ness?
I know about the corruption, I face it every single day. I know about our inefficient government machinery too. I also know about poverty, politics, and population issues, perhaps not as statistically well as some other people may know it. But I still call this country my home and wouldn’t willingly change that for anything. Am I a romantic fool who believes in high-sounding emotions such as patriotism? Or am I unnecessarily complacent?
Like most of us living in India, I have relatives settled in various developed nations of the world. And I also know how different their living is from ours: how much safer, how much more organised, how much more hassle-free. I wish too my life back home was a little like theirs: with more manageable traffic, with better public service amenities, with more law-abiding citizens to call my countrymen, with fewer politicians with a criminal record – you get the idea. But I do not wish to be anything but Indian, be anywhere else except India. Even when I come back from a holiday abroad and can see how poorly we score in comparison, I never once wish I was born elsewhere or that I lived some place else. I hate the dust, the climate, the allergens that make me ill. And I know I would even be medically better off in another land, but I have never given a serious thought to it in all my life.
Perhaps, it has something to do with my upbringing. My parents are not landed people: my father is a lawyer by profession and could have easily made a living anywhere in the world. But he chose to stay in India. My parents were never enamoured by the idea of getting my sister and me married off to green card holders, affluent NRIs or software engineers earning big bucks. But they didn’t close that option for us; we did. Perhaps, this isn’t about our upbringing after all.
The Guy’s NRI relatives in Australia believe we’re (‘we’ being the Indians who live in India) too lazy and so used to domestic help that we cannot contemplate a life anywhere else in the world. It’s far from the truth, I know: we’re not lazy by any standards even if we have house help. But that rather mean perception of us has forced me to think what it is that keeps me rooted to my country. Sometimes, exasperated with all the red-tapism and the judicial malpractices, my F-I-L suggests The Guy and I should think of shifting base to another country. That’s not even an option I see for myself. So what is it that keeps me from aspiring for an American or Australian citizenship?
I hope this doesn’t sound clichéd, but for me, my country is like a parent. I’m not blind to her faults, I only love her despite them. You can’t disown your parents because they aren’t the best in the world, can you? I feel the same way about this nation. I am so much a part of it, I can never hate it enough to leave it. And if the whole truth be told, living here isn’t so bad, is it? There’s so much I love about India, so much that makes me proud: the history, the culture, the arts and crafts, the places, the monuments, the achievements, the people too. I know if I leave the bad stuff, I will also leave the good.
All this, of course, is not being said to judge other choices made by other people. It might be okay for someone to move bag and baggage to another country and it might be okay for them to live with an inexplicable longing for their motherland despite making a deliberate decision to migrate. But it’s not okay with me. I wouldn’t be able to live my life reiterating to myself the reasons that justify the migration to another country and ignoring the reasons that make it difficult for me to be happy there. I’m happy being an Indian.