Saturday, September 29, 2012

Will India be Great Again?

Will India ever regain her past glory is a question lot of Indians ask longingly? What have we done though to regain her greatness? Why were we great a few thousand years ago? When and where did this degeneration start? In that age when we were truly great; morally, intellectually spiritually there were few counterparts. This is not a statement made out of my blind patriotism; history, art, architecture and immense volumes of literature are testimony to this fact. I consider it very significant that all of it was native to the land, her people and reflected her culture, and ideas. The essence was of contentment, of pride in our own beliefs, and ideas. We never shirked away from expressing who we were, be it in art at Khajuraho, or harsh vedic rites. No matter how distasteful or pointless some of it may seem today to the new age.

Can we say the same for ourselves today? We have foregone everything inherent to our innermost natures, indeed we are actually ashamed of it. We have tried to imitate the west in everything that we do. Our architecture is not original, our literature follows plot patterns from the west, our movies are cheap imitations of other tinsel-towns across the globe, and our own traditional clothes are as novel to us as they are to foreigners. Even Tagore and Satyajit Ray are artists from history's back pages, to be read about and admired, but not to be emulated. This is the glorious new Shining India, engaged in a complete transformation based on imitations. Imitations of countries that have about a 100 years of history to testify their greatness. Greatness only visible through economic splendor, no hallmarks of contentment.

If we are successful in our endeavor, we will be great in that sense too. But, we will never be as great, because we will still be just imitation, even if a good one. But to answer the first question that was posed, no, we will never be great again if we continue on this route. Because, I do not believe we will be successful in our endeavor of imitation. No matter how hard we try and pretend that our way of life is repulsive, and that there is need for complete upheaval, we have not been able to put our hearts and souls into it. The society still reeks of unforgotten past,  some grudging pride, and some meaningless devotion to other lingering attributes. We have to fully let go to manufacture a good imitation.

Or we can let go of this charade, acknowledge our strengths, weaknesses, all of them, and start afresh building a new civilization that is original and realistic. I think in that path, there is a hope for greatness.

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