India is my (reluctant) country. I love my country (much less than I love western ones) and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage (but just not enough that) I shall always strive to be worthy of it. I shall give my parents, teachers and all elders respect and treat everyone with courtesy (if they all speak in English). To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion (but I might as well fly away if I get better prospects abroad). In their well being and prosperity alone lies my happiness (…not).
That’s the Gen Next’s pledge. And therein lies the essence of this article. We are Indians just for the namesake. In reality, we are on the verge of becoming Un-Indians.
The problem with us Indians is that mostly, we are a bunch of foolish wannabes and hypocrites. And if not wannabes, we are ones with just one track mind. Fit in a particular stuff inside our mind and bang, we start aping it many-a-time mindlessly. Another problem- we are obsessed with the west.
Okay, I am no Shri Ram Sene or Shiv Sena activist. All I am saying is we have this mentality of wanting to forget our culture, our own good points and ape the firangs. Why? Because that’s what is supposed to be ‘cool’. “English is in man.” We take pride in talking English, walking English at the cost of forgetting our own languages, our own culture.
Let me start bit by bit.
It starts with the parents. Some are from not so prosperous background. They want their kids to learn English because “That’s how the world works, beta. You know English, you can do anything. You can blend with the “high society” people and be respected.” Why, are our Indian languages inferior? And how exactly do you define high society? Ones who go to pubs, blow their father’s money on smokes n drinks, sleep with girls don’t remember their face next dawn? Others, who are from the rich families, for them, English is the way of life. They’ll talk to their kids in English all the time, just to show ‘we compose the high society people’.
Mostly, all are enrolled in English medium. No objection with that. They make you talk English in class. No problems there either. But what’s with you wanting us to speak English in corridors, in lunch breaks, while we board our buses and punishing if found talking in regional languages? Don’t you think that it might stifle the expression of some not-so-fluent-in-English students? Its not that every student coming out of such schools goes on to become a Stephen King. We do this at the cost of Indian languages and then, we celebrate this ‘Hindi Day’ in our own country.
Interaction with friends:
In the peer group, an English song listening, an ardent Hollywood watcher gets looked up to.
“Hey have you seen the recent SRK…”
“You watch SRK? Are you retarded? Where does he stand before the legends of Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.”
Firstly, you wannabe, these are not legends. Secondly, SRK is as great as any of these. Perhaps, even better. I don’t think Tom n Brad can dance around trees.
Dr. Jean Folkerts, professor of honors and of media and public affairs at George Washington University, writes in his book The Media In Your Life-
“The Indian film industry is known to produce cheap, low quality films. However, recently, an Indian filmmaker decided to compete with Hollywood in production quality. Devdas cost $11 million.”
What right do these people have of inciting us and stripping Indian film industry naked? Low budget is equivalent to low quality? Ironically, this person is a well renowned Professor.
Again you see conversations of Linkin Park, Green Day and Akon abound. I remember a conversation that my friend had with another wannabe.
My friend (MF): Hey, what songs do you listen to?
Wannabe Friend (WF): Ah, mostly English.
MF (interested): Oh yeah? Which ones?
WF: Hmm. You know Celine Dion?
MF: Uh, ya, duh.
WF: My heart will go on. That one.
This was year 2008.
Do you not see? MF is an ardent English listener. That’s his taste, so no qualms about that. But just so that he can ‘match to MF’s ‘standards’, the WF made a complete fool of himself. Why people, why do you have to do that? Why be embarrassed if you don’t listen to English? Is it a crime?
Ask a random person to dish out some of his dream brand names. High probability is he’ll churn out Adidas, Reebok, Levi’s as his dream list. Ask him name of an Indian brand, more often than not, he’ll be clueless. Tell him about Tantra tees and he’ll start wondering when this brand came into existence.
Now, ‘Fashion @ Big Bazaar’ is quite famous thanks to its smart marketing. What’s more, it’s Indian too. Quality wise, I haven’t had a reason to complain and price-wise I have had every reason to rejoice. But no, the brand followers wanna hit you there too. “Big bazaar? Dude, that’s for beggars.” Just because I mind spending 2000 bucks on a shirt which I can more fruitfully spend on, well, even fruits, I become a cheapo? Adidas and Nike come to India, demand prices that would make your eyebrows touch your hairline and we are willing to pay. Tell you what, its not always good quality. I recently bought a red Adidas tee and even after washing thrice, it’s still reddening the wash-water.
Another illustration using a conversation I had with a friend:
Me: Why don’t you read any Indian authors?
Him: WTF men? What good do you think can come out of those morons? What can they write about? Corruption, poverty, how India sucks, that’s it na?
A sigh at the ignorance. Ever heard of R K Narayan, Ruskin Bond, Arundhati Roy?
Me: Let me start the dissuading process. Take for instance the pop literature, say, Chetan Bhagat.
Him: No, thank you. His’ is pulp fiction. No standards at all, that guy has. I’ve seen the film Hello.
Me: Oh no, the movie sucks…
Him: And so does Bhagat.
Turned out, he hasn’t read Bhagat’s best and the only best- Five Point Someone. Now anyone who likes Dil Chahta Hai loves FPS too. In fact, the book is likened to FPS.
Turned out, this guy loved Dil Chahta Hai!
You see, there are 2 kinds of people in such contexts. I’ll go back to the movies:
1. People who find West cool but know they are not the West. This is the earlier stage, the most curable one but the most irritating too. They’ll pretend they are omniscient on their knowledge and boast of knowing English movies. They’ll want to hate Indian movies or maybe they’ll want to make a show of it.
2. Morons who stick themselves just to the West whether movies. These people already hate Indian stuff. And why? “Because all Bollywood has is running around trees.” I say, show me one movie which had such scene in last 5 years. And I mean good movies only because you apparently respect Hollywood because of its content. But Hollywood has its share of tripe too. It’s just that they never see the Indian sun.
A wannabe’s opinion- “Indian songs are all mushy and romantic shit.” Oh ya? Avril is a big stud girl, isn’t she? And what about The Fray, Pussycat Dolls, Snow Patrol…I can go on and on.
Next whine on the Indian media. Let’s take a look at a youth channel. Take MTV. What do you find? It has crossed Hinglish. Its now Henglish. Why the change? Coz ‘Henglish’ has 1 letters standing for Hindi. That’s the % of Hindi they use on their shows. I might be exaggerating but take an excerpt from the show Rock On.
VJ: So guys, are you ready? Chalo then, lets begin.
That is how goes Hindi in such shows, complete with an accent. What’s sad is on this show, genuine musicians from all over the country are featured. Some are bumpkins but they are treated to firang VJ.
A disclaimer here. I am not at all averse to English or western culture. Biggest example- this article is in English. A chunk of my own conversation is in English. I like English music and movies. Hollywood has plenty of originality and you have to give them for that. It has plenty of its merits. My problem- aping it without applying mind, maligning Indians and Indian culture just because it doesn’t consist a pop culture, how does that make sense? You are in fact deriding your own value. Wake up, people. Its high time.
Signing off, another excerpt from a conversation I can’t ever forget.
MF: Maharashtrians are bloody retarded bumpkins, aren’t they?
Me: Dude, you too are a Maharashtrian.
MF: I know, I know. But still…
– Omkar Khandekar -