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I - Proud To Be Indian?

I - Proud To Be Indian?

August 15, 2012

This Independence Day, an ordinary Indian asks for a few rights from the country.

So India turns 65. One knows what to expect from this birthday. Our honest Prime Minister will deliver a riveting speech from the Red Fort while his esteemed, inspiring colleagues look on from the sides. The nation will be on “high alert” against possible terror strikes. Newspapers will bring out ad-driven supplements paying gushing tributes to our glorious past. News channels will have discussions and chat shows with the same dial-a-quote-panelists on burning current issues. Entertainment channels will have a rerun of ‘Lagaan’ and ‘Rang De Basanti’ for the thousandth time. And office-goers and school kids will enjoy their well-deserved holiday.

Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with any or all of the above. Except that it draws a small sense of déjà vu.

It’s not as if I am unpatriotic. I know that one must ask what one can do for the country and not the other way round. However, once in a while, it wouldn’t be too wrong to ask for a few favours from your motherland, would it?

So this Independence Day, as one of the millions of ‘aam aurat’ (common woman) that the government never fails to fake sympathy for, I have come up with a wish-list of Rights. The Indian Constitution guarantees seven wonderful Fundamental Freedoms and Rights for its citizens that sound fabulous on paper but my humble list doesn’t boast of any of those improbable-to-execute lofty ideals.

Rather, they are just a few wishes – seven of them – which, if granted by the architects supposedly leading our nation to super-powerdom, will give me some reasons to be a proud Indian…

1. The right to wear jeans (and other outfits of choice)

Assaults on women happen everywhere. But our part of the world – which incidentally is the fourth most dangerous place in the world for a woman - is unique. Here, it’s always the girl’s fault. And somehow it has all come to rest on her choice of fabric. Over the last few years, culture terrorists have zeroed in on jeans and other nasty pieces of western clothing as the main culprit responsible for the increasing crime rate against women. From an obscure group in Jharkand who threatened to drown girls in acid if they wore jeans, to colleges in Tamil Nadu that banned denim, to panchayats that forbade girls from wearing the blue fabric and using cell phones, 2012 has seen a litany of such well-meaning suggestions!

That’s the reason a Right like this is of utmost importance. So that the next time a girl is groped on our city’s streets, she would not be blamed for wearing the wrong outfit.

2. The right to be a victim

You were walking on the streets alone? You are asking to be raped. You love partying? You deserve to be thrown behind bars by the moral police. You fell in love against society’s wishes? You deserve to be ostracized.

In India somehow, your identity as a victim is very important for it determines the justice you get from the courts and sympathy you get from society. Take any high-profile murder or criminal assault case that made headlines in the recent past – for every genuinely outraged person there would be another who would question the motive, caste, identity and intention of the victim, more so if she is a woman. Therefore it is imperative that we get the freedom to be a victim without feeling guilty about it.

3. The right to be in a minority

This is one word that evokes the most passionate and radical response among people. Mention the word ‘minority’ and immediately it’s bound to raise hackles on all sides of the fence. While minorities are generally defined by religion or sexuality, the term actually expands to include attitudes too. The point being – in India 2012 everyone is a minority in some way or the other and hence suffers from a deep sense of real and perceived victimhood bringing with it, its own set of repercussions. Just ask a Muslim in a Hindu dominated state or locality, a Hindu in a Muslim-dominated locality, a Dalit in UP or Bihar, a north-eastern in Delhi, a disabled in the world of able-bodied, a singleton in the crowd of families, a woman anywhere in the country – and you know how tough it is to swim against the tide!

Hopefully once we are granted this Right, a lot of people can lead the lives they want to without feeling ashamed of who they are!

4. The right to say Yes

India is a country of ‘no’. Can you get a small thing done without bribes? No. Can you lead an alternate lifestyle without inviting sniggers? No. Can you live-in? No. Can you follow a different career path easily? No.

Can you stay united and celebrate differences instead of bickering? No. It’s high time we learnt to say Yes.

5. The right to hold contrarian views

Don’t like a movie? Ban it. Don’t like women going out on the streets? Ban them. Find something offensive in a book? Ban it. Don’t like an author? Banish him.

Over the last few years, India has become a nation of ‘ban-ners’ of all shapes, sizes and political and cultural affiliations. Basically, if you hold an opinion contrary to the prevailing thoughts, you are silenced. In our new found confidence and aggression, anyone having a milder but contrarian voice is drowned in the cacophony, and branded. So if you were against the Anna movement, you are anti-national, if you don’t like cricket, you are being anti-sport, if you don’t believe in marriage, something is wrong with you, if you are against one political ideology you are the mouthpiece for another… so on and so forth.

We seriously need a law that guarantees the right to look at the world differently.

6. The right to fall in love

Falling in love is still a tough task for millions of our youngsters. Urbanites may pride on giving their children the freedom to choose their spouses but if their kids select a person from the wrong religion or social status you can see the age-old prejudices jump to the fore.

As for the hinterland, let’s not forget young lovers are hanged to death even today for defying community diktats.

Yes, the right to fall in love is needed now more than ever before!

7. The right to be immoral

Finally, we definitely need a law that allows a human being to be immoral. Even in a liberal city like Mumbai you have cops who hound youngsters whose crime is that they indulge in ‘immoral activities’ such as dancing in a pub, smooching their lover, wearing ‘indecent clothes’ etc. In other states, youngsters out to have a nice time are thrashed by purveyors of culture. All in the name of morality.

Please, how we’d love a law that allows us to be immoral and live freely than be puritanical by somebody’s definition and die a thousand deaths!

Perhaps then Independence Day would have more meaning than just a holiday! 


  • Bikramjit Singh Mann
    Bikramjit Singh Mann
    17.08.12 04:53 PM
    I saw the title of the post and had actually come to say WHAT ARE YOU PROUD of .. but reading the post it changed ..

    true what u say , 15th aug shud be celebrated as Independance from british RULE DAY.. and that is the only importance left of it ..
    other then that WE are in Worst state and still going downhill with the incidents that happened just after ONE day of the celebration..
  • Sunil Deepak
    Sunil Deepak
    16.08.12 05:21 PM
    I am all for your charter of rights.

    Also appreciated your tongue-in-cheek sarcasm - Our honest Prime Minister will deliver a riveting speech from the Red Fort while his esteemed, inspiring colleagues look on from the sides. - PM is usually so riveting in his speeches that people fall asleep and his colleagues usually inspire India on how to fill their own bank accounts!
  • Akanksha Dureja
    Akanksha Dureja
    16.08.12 04:33 PM
    Good one there! Independence Day seems to have initiated such reactions across blogsvillie.
    All those should be Fundamanetal rights of women in India. Slowly, but steadily we're moving towards becomming a small Taliban and I hope we take a u -turn before we reach that dark corner.
  • Rickie Khosla
    Rickie Khosla
    16.08.12 09:08 AM
    Scary things you are asking for, Lekha! Won't all this simply unravel the very fabric of our country?

    What a steady decline into incompetence and intolerance. I remain optimistic that the nation will self-correct at some point, but, as of now, I can't see the end of this long and dark tunnel.

    Great essay. Thanks for sharing.
    16.08.12 01:04 AM
    @ Lekha

    Will it make any difference to your life if you were given all these 7 wishes on this day, or for a fact to any other woman in our country. I doubt it very much. Come on, women are second class citizen in our country.

    I think you got as much chance of getting these, as me adding a Bentley Gt continental to your list and getting it at the same time.

    I don't think any amount of different laws we pass in our parliament will make any difference to any women in India because of our attitude towards them, and the way our culture is set.

    The only people who will agree with you on all of the above are the ones who lives abroad (NRI).

    India doesn't like any kind of change, especially the ones which are suggested by the NRI's, even the ones that improves social standards. Most of us have double standards and for these reasons we will never change. It's a human thing.

    To inspire change one must be willing to change with it, and it must be instigated from within every individuals. As I said before no amount of laws we pass can change this.

    We are only held back by our attitude and the very culture that we love so much, and nothing else. Period.

  • Khadija Ejaz
    Khadija Ejaz
    15.08.12 10:05 PM
    Lekha, you sure sound sick-n-tired. :)
  • Rajpriya
    15.08.12 11:44 AM

    Yes! You are so right. We are trying to hide from the terror we are exposed to always by cowards. Our guardians deliver great speeches drafted by some intelligent guy who knows what would be pleasing to our ears. Once a year, every year on that great day we thought we were liberated from foreign forces.

    How sadly we find year after year that our PMs were just reading what some one else put together so sweet only to find it so sour just seconds later. If the management is not focused the result is the entire team fails to do anything for the country.

    The seven points you have penned down is a masterpiece and finishing off with

    “Please, how we’d love a law that allows us to be immoral and live freely than be puritanical by somebody’s definition and die a thousand deaths! “ is really, really the icing on top.

    There is one thing I missed in the entire article that we were controlled and influenced by our parents from the day we stepped out on this earth.

    They knew all the differences between what’s good and what’s bad: what’s right and wrong: they knew what was best for our future. Here we are today fighting with all our might in our adulthood for “FREEDOM” when most of us are parents ourselves. That seems to perfectly OK!

    Is this Freedom for Adults Only? Who speaks for the Freedom of our children?
  • Deepa Duraisamy
    Deepa Duraisamy
    15.08.12 09:04 AM
    Thank you Lekha for speaking up on the behalf of many of us. lists one of the definitions of independence as: Freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others. If this is the definition, then as a woman living in a land where every single action is controlled, where every act is ridiculed, taunted, mocked, where even honest progress is assumed to be on the basis of 'other cheap tricks', where stepping out on populated streets is fraught with risk, where women have the onus of self defense completely on their shoulders, am I entirely in the wrong if I say that I truly want an 'independent' India - not just one where patriotic songs are being played for the sake of it?
  • Bharat
    15.08.12 07:24 AM
    Indian constitution reflects only 1 right:

    right to be beaten up and bled

    once i am ready 4 dat, i'l get the rest.

    that's how they got the right to write it!

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