“I started writing this on 26th Jan, Quitted half way and never bothered to look back, but now I added lot more and the post is here, sorry that it is not very coherent.”
Its 26th Jan, India’s 60th Republic day anniversary, I have started to believe less and less about the chauvinism about one’s nation state.
I have been trying to reduce my own fanatical partiality to whatever kind. May be it all started when I moved to Tamil Nadu, my neighboring state, I had wanted myself to be accepted, for I believed that I have to be one among them, understand them, appreciate them. I would be lying if I said it was completely smooth. However, even after the tiny squabbles, I made some of my best friends in there. At the same time, I couldn’t stop from being ‘communal’, oops that word is too maligned, let me put it as ‘community conscious’. I was vain about the mallu ethos, and about hordes of stuff Kerala is in the forefront, let me remind you that I have nothing to do with those accomplishments I was staking claim at. I was vain about identity of my small town of Ottapalam, I believed and some part of me still believe that I have an unspoken role of being the ambassador of Ottapalam, Kerala and finally India. After four years in Coimbatore, I had been defensive and felt that I am a Tamil as much as I am a mallu. I’ve seen mallus who resisted learning Tamil. For that matter, I found huge pleasure in doing so. There were times, when I felt most comfortable talking in Tamil than any other language. Whenever I went back home, I felt like I was the spokesperson for Coimbatore, Tamil and Tamilnadu in general. I felt the reverse way when I went back to Tamilnadu being the man to be sought to ask details about “kallu”, Malabar beedi and mallu girls. May be, sometimes I felt that I belonged no where, but I was home everywhere. For the last 10years, I have not stayed at a single place for a complete year. May be I don’t want to belong anywhere, It brings lot of zealotry with it which I want to avoid.
When I came to the US, I had to talk and sometimes even be defensive about beef eating, Hinduism, arranged marriages, population, poverty, you name it with Americans.
The role got reversed when I talk to my desi friends, talking about what US actually is. I honestly think I have a very skewed image of US, having lived only in a small college town. The images each person has is anyways different. I think I am lucky to have come to Montana. I think Montana have helped me to have a perception of what America used to be, what America and the world should be, a bit of hippie values, the western values and not just what the average Indian in US sees in Subways and Wal-Marts.
As the unrest continues in various parts of world, especially north Africa and Arab world. I look at the tiny Balkan countries which had sought independence, states from the erstwhile Yugoslavia. Those unrests asks no easy questions. Is Kosovo Serbia? Is Tibet part of China?
Now that Egypt, after 18day of protests claims lack of a corrupt ruler, and Yemenis and Algerians get on to the street. Everybody wants democracy. The claim that democracy is the least evil form of ruling, is indeed true. It is an irony that when you are on the winning side, you proclaim the goodness of it, and when you are on the losing side, you blame the stupidity of masses. I said I don’t believe in Nation states, I believe in local sustainable towns where the replenishing/destruction is in harmony with nature.
I believe in a Utopian Anarchism. But, democracy is the way to go for sure. Take the case of Sudan now, there is genocide, ethnic cleansing, Christian-Muslim fights, everything that can go wrong has happened there since the Anglo-Egyptian feud in the 1950s. A short history- The North was majorly occupied by Muslims and south by Christians and indigenous tribes. The two parts where never together and was administered separately even by British to prevent Muslim influence and to convert the tribes to Christianity. Religion aside, they were separate culturally due to isolation and all those reasons. After 2.5millions of dead and displaced and Violent history, the Country voted for separate South Sudan and is going to secede on July 9th 2011 by democratic voting process. Now all the Indians/World would agree to the fact that they did right by doing so.
If the same question is asked to an Indian, she/he would think it is a right decision for Sudan and subtly will prevent any discussion about Kashmir and might retort with anger and zest a question that then each state would/may ask for separate independence in India as it is culturally different. It is easy to discuss that India should be a single nation over a coffee and that terrorists in Kashmir should be crushed. It’s a different issue that they call themselves ‘Freedom fighters’ in Kashmir. Few Indians stupidly claim that entire North India should be given to Pakistan and China, south to Sri Lanka, and the central India to Maoists. I have no sane comeback to that. I have no solution to Kashmir or any independence issue (Asia, Europe, Africa…etc..) either, but, BUT the discussion and ‘freedom of speech’ should never be curtailed. The sedition charges against anybody should not be raised at all either for saying stuff ‘people in the throne’ may not like. So, if a Yasin Malik or Binayak sen or Arundhati Roy talks, the people should listen, whether they accept it or not is their prerogative and Roy and Sen will completely accept that. But here, my blood boils with anger when right wing lunatic Bastards pelt stones at Yasin Malik or anybody and shout the following words
““Hindustan mein rehna hai to Ram Ram kehna hai,”
“Hindustan mein rehna hai to vande mataram kehna hai.”
No! In the landmass I knew as Hindustan/ India. The answer is No. Even Ram wouldn’t have wanted that, his(Ram’s) citizens blatantly made remarks about his family life and he(Ram) did not punish them.
-Santhosh K Ramachandran
P.S: Please Don’t Follow, Start Thinking.
P.P.S: Me and my Roomie donated 20lbs of rice on Republic Day, Do something similar on Valentines day or make that as an excuse to do some good deed, at least, at least don’t waste your food. Please.