Every coin has a flip side- Part 1

One of my favorite blogs I read on a daily basis is Alexandra’s (Madh-Mama). I actually start my day reading her post. She recently made a post called “Jai Ho or Bust”. You can find it here

I read the post and started to write a comment, but since the comment was long enough to be a post(s) I decided to make a post and refer my readers to her site for the background story. My only intention is to express my opinion. I understand you have right to your opinion based on your personal experiences. If your opinion differs from mine, I would respectfully agree to disagree.  If something I say comes across as rude, I am sorry that is not my intention. I APOLOGIZE FOR ANY MISTREATMENT ANY ONE OF YOU FACED IN MY COUNTRY (India).  I DON’T SUPPORT ANY BAD BEHAVIOR JUST BECAUSE THE PERSON IS FROM MY COUNTRY.

PATRIOTISM

Before I go any further, I also want to remind my readers that India is a land of contradictions. By that I mean: there are super rich and super poor, there are highly educated and illiterate, (some cannot even sign their name,) there are modern families and orthodox families, we respect women and also rape them.  These songs from a Hindi and Telugu movies say it all:

Sorry, could not find the songs with English sub-tiltles for my non-Hindi/Telugu speaking readers.

We Indians know India has flaws, and we complain about it every day. At the same time we do not take criticism well, especially when it comes from a non-Indian. We have a strong urge to defend our country. That’s just who we are .This attitude is mostly because we consider India as “Mother India/Bharat Matha”.

bharatmata_s93bd17m

When we say “Mother India,” we mean it with all our heart. The mother sentiment is strong in India. This makes it more difficult to take criticism. Below I have a picture of Bharat matha so you can understand the power of that image. Patriotism is drilled into our brains since we are kids. Every kid in India knows our national anthem, (Jana gana mana,) and at least short version of the national song, (Vandemataram,) by heart. (I can sing them even in my sleep). Most schools start the day by singing the national anthem. I was surprised when D said he cannot sing the American national anthem by heart. We are emotionally connected to India for life. Even until 10 years ago, most Indian movies, (irrespective of language,) had at least one patriotic song. It’s only been 66 years since our independence. The stories of Indian freedom fight are still fresh. So, this probably adds to the urge to defend India against any foreign criticism. Also, the Hindu philosophy of earth being a goddess is another reason. So, any criticism about India we take as a personal attack.This is more prevalent if you have never been outside India because you have never been exposed to people around the world who are very friendly.

Three years back I was at a church service. It was (American) Independence day weekend. They were singing “America the Beautiful” link here:

This put me in a dilemma because how do I sing “America the beautiful” when my loyalty is with India? I just cannot sing it without really feeling that way. In a split second, my brain answered the question. America gave me “D,” the best man in the whole world. It would be the mother land of my children. If I don’t love America as much as I love India, how will my kids embrace their dual ancestry? Then I started to sing. (BTW I love that song, it has beautiful lyrics). This is just an example of how patriotic an Indian can be. I think in India we don’t have the concept to respectfully agree to disagree especially if it is about India or our culture.

FLIPSIDE: Westerners are Patriots too. They express it in a different way. Like for Americans, Independence day is one of the biggest holidays. Some of them even decorate their homes for it. They celebrate Memorial day, Veterans day to honor the men and women of  the military. They have even developed the biggest arsenal of weapons to protect their homeland from greedy eyes. lol. I am sure every country has their own way of expressing their allegiance to their motherland.

MY STAND- I love my India. I am emotionally attached to India for life, but I don’t think that we should get offended whenever someone criticizes us. Constructive criticism is always good for development. We should learn to accept criticism with grace and try to correct ourselves where we are wrong. This doesn’t mean we should not defend ourselves when we are right. Also, we should stop being hypocrites. I mean why get offended when we know the problem clearly exist.

PAYING THE PRICE FOR BRITISH ATROCITIES

It’s true we have been mistreated by the British. The wound is probably still fresh for some. We still make movies about  Indian freedom struggle. We still remember the  Jallinwalla bagh massacre. Indian’s had to pay very high taxes on our incomes.  There are some controversies about the drastic decrease in Indian GDP after British rule. I don’t really want to get into numbers because it really doesn’t matter for my argument. The British came to India in the name of trade. Why would you go to any country if they don’t have something to offer you in return? So, India definitely had something Britain wanted. Then, Britain enslaved India, but that is a different era and we moved on.

I personally don’t like the fact that Britain is still in possession of the Kohinoor Diamond since I was a kid. When I was in fourth grade, (8 years old,) I thought I will run away to Britain without my parents’ knowledge and plead the queen to give the Kohinoor back. Lol. Yep, that’s me. Anything is possible with a sweet smile. Right?

If you think westerners are taken advantage of because of British exploitation, you are wrong. The banana price story Alexandra said about her MIL’s experience is what happens. However, Indian’s are well versed with the art of bargaining. Believe me, there are also some Indian’s that cannot bargain and pay whatever they ask for. My brother is one of those people. I see it this way, maybe it’s not that bad if a shopkeeper sells one dozen (12) bananas to a poor man for 10RS when he charges me 15RS for the same bananas. After all, I can afford to pay that extra, and he can’t.

THE FLIP SIDE- is English was introduced into India because of the British. The outsourcing and call center boom we see in India today is only possible because of English. What about Indian Railways? They are also a fruit of British rule. Indian constitution and Political system is in line with Britain’s. They built schools, roads, and buildings. Today, Britain and India are allies. Some area’s of Britain have large Indian population or is highly influenced by Indian culture. Butter chicken is so popular in Britain.I saw Gordon Ramsay making it in one of his shows. The most popular movie in India “DDLJ” – is a love story of two British Indians. I personally think their accent is so darn cute. I wish “D” had that accent.

MY OPINION: They did bad things, and they did good things. We made mistakes, and they made mistakes. It’s time to leave the devil of the past in the past and move on. Like I said, I don’t think it matters to most Indians, but if you are one of those who are stuck in the past, please move on. India has a bright future. Let’s look forward for it.  Also, it’s no excuse to treat a foreign person unfairly because of what Britain has done. After all, this person did not harm you. We need to remember “athidhi devobava,” (Guest is God,) more. India is known for its forgiveness and unconditional love, not hate. Love is reciprocated with love and hate with hate. We will reap what we sow.

-to be continued.

-R.

P.S.- Please free to share your thoughts. Thank you if you made to the end.

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7 Comments

  1. I don’t think we pay a debt for the British either, just pay the debt of the imagery that the British left that we all live the high life, devoid of morals and are obscenely wealthy! I mean the final viceroy of India had 5000 servants at his residence and his wife is said to have had an affair with Nehru. You are right about bargaining, simply imitating my MIL gets me better prices than my husband can manage!!
    India was pillaged and colonised long before the British got there, it was just that they had the force and money to take whatever they wanted. The true animosity and antrocity of the British was not even Jallianwalla Bagh or the execution of Bhagat Singh, the true suffering of India was handed down by the botched and miserable attempt at granting Independence. For Americans Independence Day is positive, for Indians often times it is not. Independence Day marked the beginning of civil unrest, murders, partition, downward turn in the economy and suffering for so many. After decades India is slowly clawing back a reputation that was once held, holding onto much of what the British left behind – a country void of appropriate law and order, of strong leaders and honest government and void of what was once precious to her, like kohi-noor,,,, It says what kohi-noor is to Indians in that my MIL calls my son her kohi-noor, her most precious and wonderful possession….
    Though you are right and some things were gained that now propel India forward, much time and development were unrightfully taken from her and they can never be replaced…
    Alas it is best to move forth and unite as global citizens, I personally love to read about British India – especially as Punjab has had longstanding military connections!

    Reply
    • Raina

       /  August 6, 2013

      Thank you, for your input. You said it very well. Yep that is how our mothers compare us to “Kohi-noor”. After all we all are diamonds at least to our mothers. lol.

      Reply
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