Sunday, September 1, 2013

India - Land of the Hypocrite

The common man wants peace, prosperity and stability. The common man does not want corruption, casteism and politics. 

I beg to differ. The common man in contemporary, urban Indian society is as filthy a rat as the politicians he has chosen to elect. This is not a passage defending the politicians. It is a passage condemning the common man (most of us anyways) because he does not deserve better. Let's begin with the basics. 

The common man will talk about how the government does not bother cleaning the streets of the city. He will crib about how dirty India is compared to developed nations. He will wrinkle his nose and curse the municipal corporations every time he sees an overflowing dustbin. He will question the way his taxes are used every time he watches a trash-vehicle chug by. And while he is doing this, he will clean his house and dump all the waste right outside his balcony window. He will buy chaat from a roadside vendor and throw the paper dish on the road. He will buy bottled water and throw the bottle out the window of his posh car. He will smoke a cigarette and throw the butt on the road. He will eat paan and spit the juicy remnants in style on the roadside. He will then go home and complain about how dirty India is. Does this common man deserve better?

The common man will bemoan traffic on the roads. He will complain about congestion on his way to work. He will curse passers-by for not walking on the footpath. He will shout at other drivers on the road for not knowing how to drive. He will curse the government for traffic. He will question the sanity of his fellow countrymen when stuck in long traffic jams at interminable traffic signals. And while he is doing all this, he will drive a car without a seat-belt. He will take turns without switching on an indicator. He will ride a bike without a helmet. He will drive on the wrong side of the road to avoid a longer distance for the next turn. He will jump traffic signals when the light is still red. He will break traffic signals if there is no cop. He will turn from the inner curve of a road in the city and blame the oncoming traffic. Does this common man deserve better?

The common man will sit at his dinner table and criticise casteism. He will crib about how reservation has ruined the meritocratic fabric of the country. He will complain about how deserving boys and girls with good marks do not get admission into good colleges because of reservations and quotas. He will publicly showcase how a liberal and classless society is what India should strive for. He will sanctimoniously reject racism. He will self-righteously lecture others on how castes are wrong. And while he is doing all this, he will stereotype all communities into brackets and classify Muslims as terrorists. He will still want his son or daughter to marry a spouse of the same caste. He will discuss feverishly on how "Marathas" are better than "Brahmins" (or vice versa). He will know all about the different types of "Brahmins" there are. He will profess pride at being a "True Maratha" or a "True Brahmin". He will talk ill of "OBCs" and call them dirty. He will use words like "khaalchi jaat" (lower caste) and will get the holier-than-thou glow. On the other hand, if he is from the "lower castes", he will bear a prejudice without reason towards all people of all other communities. He will spout hatred against them in all his daily actions. He will behave like a lout on the street and expect to get away with it. He will make generic statements about how his own caste is "relatively cleaner". He will automatically associate with and favour people of his own caste. He will secretly believe that his own caste is better than others. He will still question an inter-racial marriage and he will still practice idiotic rituals of his own caste or community. Does this common man deserve better?

The common man will loudly wail at Dr. Dabholkar's death. He will turn up his nose at sadhus and babas and curse superstition as a social evil. He will regret the state of his religion today and how it has become a bastion of people peddling silly superstitions and rites. And while he is doing all this, he will wear an auspicious ring on his right hand with a gem-stone that is linked to his "rashi". He will automatically think of a sun-sign when he asks someone their birthdate. He will consult an astrologer when arranging his daughter's marriage. He will match their horoscopes and then give permission for the match. He will avidly follow idiotic nonsense like Vastushastra and Feng-Shui. He will fast on Mondays for a meaningless religious superstition. He will put up a photo of Ganesh or Jesus as a good-luck sign in his car. He will avoid wearing black on certain occasions as it is "not auspicious". Does this common man deserve better?

The common man will cry foul about rape. He will object loudly to item songs in common forums. He will talk at long length about how pornography is spoiling the youth of the nation. He will moan on how male chauvinism is harming the advancement of the country's women. He will denigrate objectification of women. And while he is doing all this, he will slyly gaze at "hot" women on the street. He will gleefully watch Sunny Leone gyrate her ample bosom in a Hindi song playing on the TV. He will gladly watch item numbers and tap his foot to the music. He will gossip about his female colleagues and slyly pass comments on their physical attributes. And then he will go home and treat his wife like a servant. He will be the alpha male and expect his wife to cook and clean even if she works somewhere for a living for 9 hours a day. Does this common man deserve better?

I have so many more examples, but I think I have made my point. I think it is time to introspect. I think it is time to agree that as a country, we are still barbarians. I think it is time to admit that we have meandered a long way from any rational precept of glorious mankind. I think it time to see the evil, green-eyed monster in each of us and banish him forever from our minds. It is time to change. It is time to reclaim our glorious past and be proud of our roots. But this time; for the right reasons. For rationality and morality. It is time. 

Or is it . . ?