If God was a CEO touring his universe for a status report and had just one day to check on earth, I’d probably show him around India: the microcosm of our human civilization and mankind’s most exciting experiment. At the end of it, he’d probably be flustered and amused; exactly as I’d want him to feel about us.
The experiment turns 69 on 15 August and has far outlived most predictions. “As soon as the last British soldier sailed from Bombay or Karachi, India would become the battle field of antagonistic and religious forces…the peaceful and progressive civilization, which Great Britain has slowly but surely brought into India, would shrivel up in a night,” rather awkwardly observed J.E.C. Welldon, former Bishop of Calcutta. Should Welldon have been alive today and been on Twitter, Indian trolls would have had the time of their lives unfailingly on 15th August every year. While most nations owe their creation to a common language, religion, or enemy, India fascinatingly doesn’t. You see, one doesn’t have to be necessarily proud of one’s country as it’s pure lottery that decides the country you are born into. On any other day, as Thomas Jefferson would have expected me to, I’d most likely be a nuisance to the government of my state, however today is not that day. As a young middle-class Indian, today I wish to express with an incomplete list, how lucky I am to have been sent here, of all other places on this beautiful marble.
India’s diversity and Rohit Sharma’s talent can never be emphasized enough
Let’s take the curious case of my lanuage(s) as a perplexing case in the point. I’m a Tamilian with ancestry in Kerala which makes my mother tongue Tamil mingle with Malyalam. Having been raised in Mumbai, I also speak Hindi(a language otherwise not ‘expected’ to be followed by a Tamilian) which in return also happens to be heavily influenced by Marathi, the language of my state. That enduring British legacy called English, of course, remains the language of my education. In all, I am familiar with 5 different languages (albeit with varying proficiency) each influenced by the other. All of this for having lived only in a single nation all my life! I fail to recollect of any other land where this can be plausible.
If you are a (free) food lover like me, you couldn’t find a better country to be born into. Just last week, after an overnight stay at a friend’s bachelor pad, I had North Indian food for breakfast, came back home to traditional Tamil lunch, got invited for dinner by a North Karnataka friend where I was joined by a pretty Sindhi girl who got traditional Sindhi chaat for us to savour. I had 4 different cuisines in a single day without having to visit a restaurant even once.
I’m a Tamilian with ancestry in Kerala which makes my mother tongue Tamil mingle with Malyalam. Having been raised in Mumbai, I also speak Hindi which in return also happens to be heavily influenced by Marathi, the language of my state.
Education comes with marks not power
Quality higher education is affordable, corruption free, and largely meritorious so much so that this affluent woman accompanied by her father in Delhi once went to the then director of IIT-Delhi requesting for her son’s admission. The father got slightly embarrassed so he left the room. The director then saw the kid’s report card and refused the son admission into the IIT but offered her an admission into Imperial college of London which she eventually accepted. What’s fascinating about the story is that the characters are none other than Indira Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, and Rajiv Gandhi. For the aspiring middle-class which looks at education as their most powerful tool of upliftment, it is consoling to know that even the most powerful family in the country can be denied admission into the IITs for lack of merit.
Our politicians may be rivals but not enemies
To their deserving credit, our politicians have managed to maintain basic hygiene and build a thriving political system. In India, it is almost unheard of that leaders of the opposition should run for their lives when a new party comes to power unlike the case with our neigbouring nation with whom we closely share our birthday.
With such chaos, conflict is inevitable particularly when nature has made us human but eventually animal. Even today when I visit Bangalore, the rickshwalah refuses to charge by meter given my “outsider” status. Wherever they go in India, my friends from North East face racism for their distinctive yet cute appearance.
All said and done, for being a Hindu majority nation, we have more muslims than Saudi Arabia, more Christians than Australia, speak more languages than all of Europe and yet somehow exist as a single nation. For how long? I don’t know. However, I can say with decent confidence that the next time God visits earth, the first question I expect him to ask his guide is “Does that funny little place I visited last time still exist?” Not sure about God, but I’d secretly hope the guide to answer, “Yes, it has been one of our most successful experiments.”
Adhitya Iyer is the author of The Great Indian Obsession: The Untold Story of India’s Engineers