And then they say we are intolerant!

a

Mughals ruled us. British ruled us.  Then, Congress ruled us. And then they say, we are intolerant.

We are a country that despises the killing of holy Cow over a meal of Chicken Tandoori. We are a country that idolizes Gurus who rape women and pardon an actor who kills the homeless. That pours a glass of milk on a rock at a Shiva Temple, and makes our wife sleep hungry. We are a country that encourages to celebrate water-less Holi and cracker-less Diwali, while spending a weekend having a tub-bath after a long non-polluting drive. And then they say, we are intolerant.

cWe are a country who writes about women empowerment, below the headline of a little girl raped. That votes for tall politicians who say boys will be boys. Where Chief Minister of the capital goes on a dharana, and capital from chief transactions go to Swiss. We are country that voted Lalu Prasad Yadav back to power, and then they say, we are intolerant!

India is country that has imported McDonalds’ and Subway from the west, while still litters and defecates in the open to attract pests.  We are a country who would rather learn Yoga from an American instructor. India is a country where people want customer to consume what they make in India, while they wear clothes that aren’t even sold in India. India is a country where a criminal runs an NGO called “Being Human”. And then they say, we are intolerant!

India is a country where tragic Drama on our television are so stupid and hilarious, and where the level of our comedy shows makes us want to cry. India is a country where heroes in the movie are hero-worshiped, while heroes on the battlefield are hardly noticed. India is a country where Bigg Boss comes back with a loser-packed season every year. And then they say, we are intolerant!

India is a country where supply of grass in Kumbh Mela is much more than rave parties. India is a country where a young boy with a glass of beer is immediately labelled a rapist, and where marital rape is not even considered a crime! India is a country where Mallika Sherawat talks about woman being suppressed, in an interview at a place she can’t even pronounce. India is a country that has made Honey Singh popular, and then they say, we are intolerant!

b

India is a country where Sheikh Lights a diya on Diwali, Nancy loves Sheer Kurma, and little Pooja hangs a sock in hope of getting gifts from Santa Clause. India is a country where people actually end up marrying someone they have never seen, only because they trust their parents. India is a country where women think tying a thread around a tree ensures a long-life for their husbands. And then they say, we are intolerant!

The problem is that sometimes India is too tolerant.

Culture of Politics or Politics of Culture?

Now that Gandhi Jayanti is over, we can all get back to bribing that traffic hawaldar, lying at the drop of a hat, and spitting on that newly painted wall! Not that yesterday we did not indulge (cheers to all those who managed to have a drink), but at least there was a national sentiment as such!

For all those who were high- of course because of Friday holiday- I will remind you that yesterday marked the 146th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, 111th birth anniversary of Lal bahadur Shastri, and the 1st anniversary of Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. It was basically a day of trending Gandhiji on twitter, leaving for Goa for the long weekend, and using Gandhian messages for political good!

I feel this is one topic on which a lot is written, a lot is filmed, a lot is said and quoted, and a little is acted upon! Actually, in retrospect, I will take my words back. I feel we are doing our best to act on all Gandhian principals! No, seriously! For example, Gandhi’s philosophy was based on principal of Swadeshi, and we firmly believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (One World Family). All it takes is to know how and when to put two and two together!

Gandhian thinking is essentially about a sustainable way of life, an economic system based on trusteeship and a society in which everyone gains rather than the few become rich at the expense of the many. It is a complex, inter-related system of thought. We are so on the right path –which is made by our government. Hence, the delay!

These days Gandhiji is in our books, on our roads, on our walls, in our pocket and in the political campaign speeches! But not in our heart or behavior. We as a country suffer from selective learning. We have so much knowledge about every subject at our mercy, but we tend to twist and manipulate it in our stride – and use the knowledge only to save our face! Some people happened to read, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” and thought, bingo! That is exactly we want to do. They are all leading our country at the moment, and just for the record, we are blind!

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I firmly believe that Gandhian philosophy is relevant today, more than ever! This century has seen a tremendous rise in globalization, privatization, violence, inequity, poverty, et al. We direly need a Gandhi to save our face in this highly consumptive world! His ideals hold a moral and social mirror to our society! But sadly, while one of Gandhiji’s most famous quote is “Be the change you want to see”, we tend to boo the change we are seeing.

Although Gandhiji has been made an icon of “Clean India”- I think we are taking it too literally. Of course, cleanliness is very important, but all his teachings give more importance to an India cleaned of corruption, violence, hatred, inequality, injustice and the like.

I dream of a Gandhian Swachch Bharat!

The Problem of Plenty

Dog-opoly is a dog-specie version of the famous board game Monopoly, but it really is the monopoly of dogs on the Indian streets!

Our country has a large population of stray dogs- I mean obnoxiously large! Sometimes, one may not find people on streets, but dogs – always! While it may not be appropriate to generalize, but stray dogs have proved to be calamitous for humans, in many incidents and places. Apart from being a tad-bit noisy and unhygienic, they are quite dangerous. It is quite terrifying to walk on streets at night, with howling sounds in the background. They contribute to a number of road accidents, of which a few prove almost fatal to a person walking, in order to save the-dog-sprung-from-God-knows-where. Not eliminating the fact that it could prove fatal for them as well, and that this is a difficult life for them. (Please don’t call PETA).

Quite a few people, by now, probably detest me for my perspective on this particular issue, but in all reasonableness, it makes sense. I mean I understand that they also are a breathing, eating, pooping, moving, barking-but-unable-to-talk-and-express-their-plight (and so are chickens we eat?) kind of creatures, but in my view we need to re-think the extent to which we take things emotionally, accept that it is a grave issue, and take steps to find a permanent solution.

Any discussion on welfare of strays always gets the same reply, “We don’t have resources to cater to majority of people, and how can we cater to dogs?” I don’t completely agree with this notion. In an urban setting, one cannot diversify problems like that. Everything is correlated. If measures are taken to fix any one issue, it automatically affects the other.

One of the main and obvious reason is our hygiene habits. It is the unattended litter on the roads, which actually is a feast for these stray-dogs, and cater to their survival and existence. We as a culture are quite messy- always blaming the incapable and inactive government for improper infrastructure, and on the other hand, don’t even maintain sanitation regime on personal level! We really do not need to wait for a TV show, a bill-board sign or our Prime Minister to start movement to know the importance of cleanliness. It is only clearing of litter that will solve the problem – quicker than anything!

Apart from that, there are a lot of organisations that vaccinate the stray dogs – all thanks to a few good Samaritans. Let us at least help them help us in any way we can – volunteer, provide resources, financial aid, inform about unattended or bruised stray dogs, adopt and encourage others to adopt, etc. Actually even if one cannot adopt these stray dogs, getting them vaccinated will not only save their lives, but also prevent spreading of diseases. These solutions may not be quick in reducing the number of strays, but probably are first few steps in the planned scheme of reducing their numbers. And Jaipur has proved that it is possible.

Every dog has its day, but with our collective efforts these dogs will have a life.