Indian. Enough. For You?

Over the last 70 years, the definition of being Indian has changed many times over. From being the  land of snake charmers and rope tricks, we have evolved to being a superpower to reckon with in pretty much every sphere of life. We have dealt with ills like caste, sati, religious persecution with a flamboyance only Indians can carry off. We have done away with poverty, disease, and corruption with solutions that leave the academic world baffled. The contemporary Indian is a truly wondrous thing, a thing more Indian than you think.

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?


  1. Nicely done, Subho!

    It's tempting to characterize "what's Indian" in many obvious ways - corrupt, lazy, poor, discriminatory, proud, patriotic, religious etc. To me, a theme that runs through all of India and binds Indians that transcends class (rich or poor), caste, religion and even time is our extraordinary ability to absorb and not transmit pain. For centuries, Indians (whether Hindu or Muslim or Parsee or rich or poor) have skipped jauntily across puddles in the (lack of) road without complaining. They have endured the worst of indignities with surprising restraint. It is, in fact, the reason we've endured. Our ability to rise above and tolerate the worst in ourselves. It is a curse. And, it is a blessing as well.

    Here's an extract from something I wrote a while back that adds above. "I have come to believe that I love India not because I was born on her soil but because there’s something touching and deeply inspiring about the way she’s tolerant and merciful of the human condition with all its frailties and foibles. It is a country that that will lift you from a low to a high that will amaze you. Never mind that it pushed you into the low in the first place. After all, you need to truly understand pain before you can enjoy pleasure. There is no question that she will provide you with an adequate supply of both. If there’s one place on earth which has willingly embraced everything, it is India. If there is a place on earth that will teach you humility and awaken your soul, it is India. May she prosper and shine and provide comfort to all other nations and peoples."

    1. Feels great to hear from you, Srini. My Twitter TL is no longer the same. Being Indian is a blessing. To get to see it takes some living. To see it one must appreciate what being Indian really is. It is not only the low, but as you point out, being able to see that the low is just an interpretation and transcend it.

      Where are you writing these days?

  2. I kind share the subtle anger in your thoughts. I'll be curious to know what are some possible ways of action to do our part. In fact, how can it be publicized (or marketed) so that a wider consciousness arise?

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Rama. Each of us have the noble and the base within us. Unfortunately, we live in a time when the base is easy to access and provoke, which is what we are seeing all over the world, with intolerance, fake news and right wing arrogance overriding all good sense. At the same time, people everywhere are working to counter this mindset. Writers, artists, musicians are doing what they can to share a more balanced perspective. The availability of digital tools to broadcast opinion and facts is helpful. We should put all our efforts into countering the forces that pull us down.

  3. Really a nice article. You have a dig a lot. The main thing that prevails is the Reservation system & Corruption. But at this stage corruption is getting the edge by some policies. But reservation should be taken care of for the onward development.


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