We have become contributors to the global economy instead of carrying the thick end of the stick. We get hitched across linguistic and cultural borders and create new identities transcending differences and definition. We think in Bengali and blog in English and usually have a third language up our sleeve when we don't want Junior to understand what we are speaking of. We use phrases like "why because" and "that is what" just for timepass. We prefer Indian Chinese and Continental Tarka and create dishes like Gobi Manchurian and Paneer Pizza.
Traditionalists view this modern Indian with reservation; in their opinion, they are a travesty of what being Indian is about. But the modern Indian couldn't really care. He bares his soul (no typo, that) with the brazenness of a Ravindra Gaikwad and the finesse of a Singer Abhijeet. He has solved the problem of caste by having reservations where everyone, especially the cream of the traditional Indian society, now wants to be declared a scheduled caste, or an other backward class, and then some. We have wiped out sati, and now insist brides burn with an even blue flame while their husbands are alive and watching, holding their mummyjis and naanijis hands. We have strict laws to book those who indulge in domestic violence or dowry harassment. However, the modern Indian, gender no bar, has found ways to buy justice or to use this law for personal profit, so it is really not a problem. Or a solution for that matter.
We have eliminated poverty by lowering the poverty line to where noone below it could possibly exist. Many people well above it also no longer exist. To be declared poor in India, you have to become a starving ascetic, since a family income of 1000 rupees per month pushes you into what is presumably the middle class. The middle class itself now starts somewhere around the middle floors of the Ambani residence. We have eliminated disease by creating a healthcare system so efficient that it does away with anyone who has any disease. A few decades back, fiery young politicians identified overpopulation as a solution for all our troubles and worked on eliminating all future families. That sterile strategy backfired twice over; not only did it lead to "the end" of the fiery politician and his ilk, our overpopulation now makes us among the most desirable markets for everyone, Fiery and nonfiery politicians included. No allusions needed to anybody here.
For years, corruption was seen as "the" Indian value. Multinationals started their business plans with budgetary allocations for those who cannot be named. Recent governments have done away with that tag by announcing India to be Against Corruption and declaring entire states (3 out of 36 by last count) to be open defecation free (the rest of India can be defecated upon openly by politicians and bureaucrats but thanks to Swacch Bharat, it will not be visible). People in those states who don't have a loo to look towards can just hold it in. The corrupt have myriad sanctuaries, political parties and foreign citizenship being the tip of the iceberg. The recent demonetization effort revealed a large amount of undeclared income. The fact that it is a fraction of what was estimated to be unaccounted cash in circulation eludes the modern Indian as he runs from ATM to ATM to pick up money for the buys and the office boys.
The beauty of being Indian is that all of these do not bother us. We are too engrossed in bollywood gossip and comparing Apples and Samsungs to be moved by the reality of the world we have created. Which is a good thing; waking up to reality comes with responsibility, or the ability to respond, and the ask out here is probably too large for the cowardly; who in their right mind can say in today's India they are courageous? Change is difficult, but whether one wants different outcomes or not, it is inevitable. Change that will assure positive outcome is even more challenging, but haven't we all been there?
Most of us do not consciously remember how much effort it took to learn to raise our heads as newborns against gravity, or how difficult it was to transition to stand from a crawl. Yet, today, in spite of the very embarrassing realities we negotiate each day, we stand tall and hold our heads high without a second thought as to how. Every human being has that immense power to overcome our challenges (just as they have the power to be indifferent to them). More Indian Than You Think would be when you decide to take destiny into your own hands. No man is an island, and by changing your destiny, you are changing that of your family, of your nation, of all humankind. If you believe the future looks bleak, make that decision, and let this day be the first day of a new consciousness, one that will create the world we long for.
This post was written for the More Indian Than You Think campaign by Lufthansa. Lufthansa knows a little about living up to challenges. They did not give up on India when ModiLuft did not work. They went back to the drawing board and came back with a service model that serves Indians the way we like it. Do check out their TVC for this campaign below. Also, this being a contest post does not mean I do not look forward to your comments and your social media love. Those who visit frequently know that I do not look forward to your comments or social media love anyway, but then what are a few likes and shares between "friends," hai na?