Identity of an Indian as Indian

Identity of an Indian as Indian

The impression of foreigners about India and its people at large that one comes across in media is marked by both praise and uncomplimentary remarks. For the purpose of pondering over the subject of this column, two such impressions of the second category mentioned above and quoted by politicians and writers of all hues meet the bill. One is the infamous speech of Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay (1810-1859) who was a law member of the Governor General’s Council during 1834-38 and noted for his major role in the introduction of English and Western concepts to education in India: “I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.” The second quote of Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), while arguing on why India should not be granted independence reportedly said: “Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters, all Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight among themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles.” One is prompted to remark that the two foreigners have sounded prophetic even as many Indians in public life present themselves in unedifying image.

Not giving the impression that Indians don’t love their homeland as a stereotype, the influence of people who trigger such feeling of disfavour is strong, however, small proportion may be in the total population of the nation. But, as people wielding power and authority to make laws, they have been doing incalculable damage to the nation and life of its people.

First and foremost factor impacting people’s social life is the manner of identification of any Indian as Indian, believed in many circles to be a matter of pride. However, in reality that feeling of pride has suffered with greater pride derived by Indians identifying themselves based on the faith they follow, the lingo they speak, the narrow geographical space they claim to belong and so on, not forgetting to place themselves as high as possible in the social hierarchy of the diaspora. In addition, the nation’s people find themselves under the broad classifications of (a) General, (b) Other Backward Classes, (c) Reserved under Schedule 8, (d) Minorities and what have you.

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The different sections in the population indulging in arm-twisting the administration to favour them with plum privileges is the name of the game of democracy, capturing votes in polls by promising the well-marked privileges based on faiths and its myriad subdivisions, leaving the real minority of Indians who are truly Indian.

January 9, 2019

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