Pat(riot)ism

I work. I work and I earn. I earn enough and pay taxes. Lots of taxes. I employ people. I develop skills. I pay them. They progress. And pay taxes. Taxes that are for the development of my country. I pay for rent. I pay for equipment, I pay for services. I pay more taxes. I earn shitloads of money and make an equal load of positive changes. Yet, I am forced to stand up for the National Anthem, every time I watch a movie (also, taxed) to prove that I am a ‘patriot’.

If the National Anthem is not played during the movie, it will not make me less of a patriot, just as when it is being played, it doesn’t make more of it anyway! The point here is not about me having to delay taking my recliner seat up because I need to stand-up for the National Anthem (actually, that too), but it is more about me having to prove that I am a Patriot with these silly laws cropping up every now and then. The whole attitude around these laws undermines everything else that I may be doing for my country.

When did patriotism come down to obeying and/or agreeing with the government? If you adhere to their views, their vision and support their prophecy, you are a ‘true patriot’, otherwise a downright anti-national! Frankly, the most patriotic thing people are doing today is talking about their mothers and sisters, followed by a word which I’d rather not mention here, on twitter and feeling immensely ‘nationalist’ about it. Bravo!

It doesn’t matter if you are bringing laurels to your country, or fighting for your country, or working hard for your country – suddenly all that matters is whether are you standing in the ATM queues without cribbing or not! Soldiers should not complain about the food they are getting, students should not protest against the injustice they are facing, people should not complain about the hardships caused by new laws being passed – because you do all or any of these mentioned things: “Go to Pakistan!” comes the quick reply.

6a00d83477d44a69e20167666d0650970b-600wiJust as an after-thought, I would like to question the whole concept of patriotism here. While ‘patriotism’ is generally seen as a uniting emotion, I personally find it rather dividing! If patriotism is one side of a coin, xenophobia is the other. I don’t think we can talk about ‘World Peace’ at various conferences all over the world, while also promoting, encouraging and forcing ‘Patriotism’ at the same time

I think Leo Wiener, in his article titled ‘Patriotism or Peace?’ sums up my point better, and says: “Patriotism cannot be good. What produces war is the desire for an exclusive good for one’s own nation – that is called patriotism. And so to abolish war, it is necessary to abolish patriotism and to abolish patriotism, it is necessary first to become convinced that it is an evil”.

PS: it’s the ‘Republic Day’ week, and my patriotism-level may look as low as the number on the thermometer, but: East or West, India is the Best. There, I said it. I am not an anti-national.

2016

318a2855d6c708721181899244b82778Whoa, 2016 is ending in just two weeks, and it has given us 2016 reasons to be happy that it’s ending. In retrospect, it was a great year, except if you are black, Muslim, transgender, woman, middle class, lower class, animal or a person in the mannequin challenge. While for some the year ended in a jiffy, but for me, it was one long eventful year, with lots of happenings the world would have been better off without.

Obviously, I am talking about Brangelina break-up.

No, but seriously. BREXIT, followed by Donald Trump being elected as the president of the United States of America definitely top the charts, and will go down in history books sooner than we think. The following few years seem like a legit repenting to these two events.

And how will our very own Modiji lose this race, or any race! Demonitization or demon-ization or who-is-the-demon-realization has made the nation doubt the choice of their leader. Well, a step that looked far more promising as an idea has turned into a complete turmoil, and added to the experience that 2016 anyway was.

Terror attacks have been on an all-time rise. Libya, Turkey, Syria, Bangladesh, France, Pakistan, United States, Belgium, you name the country, and it has been in the news for terrorism. Pathankot to surgical strikes, the India-Pakistan relations back home also haven’t shown any progress. Well, the world that was said to end in 2012, 2016 seemed to have taken charge of it.

In the middle of all these “anti-national” news, our government took a very important step of instilling patriotism in the minds of the people – to play the national anthem before every movie screening. The only thing more patriotic than soldiers standing on the border, people standing in the movie theatre, and Aam Aadmi standing in a never-ending line outside the ATM, is that no-one is taking a stand on anything. *slow claps*

Talking about taking a stand, everyone at Bigg Boss is doing a great job. No, I don’t watch the show, but how is the 10th season going to be any different? 2016 marks 10 years of us allowing the show to run on TV – or the same number as the IQ of the Indian TV audience.

But who needs a Bigg Boss when our Lok Sabha TV is so much more entertaining. Fun fact: This winter session, the parliament was in session for only 19 hours of the allocated 21 days. #adjourned

It did prove a powerful year for the Indian women though. From PV Sindhu, Dipa Karmakar, Sakshi Malik in the Olympics to Shobha De for her opinion about the Olympics, from Sushma Swaraj being as the only one who is digitalized in India to Priyanka Chopra rocking at Hollywood, from all the bahus on TV to Simar having more power than everyone put together in Game of Thrones, we have arrived!

Too hot, too little water, too much rainfall, too many silly internet challenges, too much noise at 9, too less governance, this year was just too much to handle. But hope is the only proverbial light amid the darkness.

Love, Life and all that Jugaad

It is a little less than a week for Republic day, and I am already feeling so patriotic – first of the three times in a year, third being any cricket match – even if Mumbai Indians is playing. Apart from the Railways and ‘English’, the British will be remembered for giving the gift of Democracy to India. This year India boasts of its 67th Republic Day. We can proudly say that after all these years everyone in the country is happy, except Dalits, Muslims, minority, transgender, Farhan Akhtar and sportsmen playing any other sport apart from Cricket. Good job, government!

Something that is to India as Circuit is to Munna Bhai is Jugaad.

I remember reading somewhere that many years ago, innovative Punjabis mounted a diesel irrigation pump on a steel frame with wheels, and created a vehicle they called jugaad. It was ultra-cheap but did not conform to vehicular regulations. Over time, jugaad came to mean grassroots innovation to overcome any constraint, with the given limited resources!

In the West, innovation is done by scientists jugaad-newusing expensive equipment. In India, it’s done by every housewife, farmer, transporter, trader and industrialist. It does not require high-spending R&D: it simply needs creativity and knowledge of basic science. A lot of people confuse Jugaad with bribery, or illegal, unethical things to get work done faster, but that definitely is not jugaad I speak about here!

The country’s chaotic democracy, according to journalist and author Elliott, creates an environment “where jugaad fixes are easy, and where the failures of the system in terms of poor governance and weakened institutions make the fatalism of chalta hai a welcome safe haven”. It also “blocks changes and acts as an excuse for what is not being achieved”.

Even though at many levels I think this statement is faulty, but having said that, I do believe that to run a country as large as India, with second largest population in the world, diverse cultures and geographic conditions under not-so-stable leadership and poor governance is, in a way, Jugaad. We have all done jugaad at our own level, and are moving ahead somehow. And that is the success rate that jugaad can accomplish! I would even like to add India’s successful Mars mission to this list!

In this day and age, where everyday a new start-up is booming, jugaad can come as a handy tool!

Final criticism could be that what India needs is systems as well. It needs structure, it needs regulation. If there isn’t a system in place, or if there’s a system that blocks any change then one needs jugaad to find a way around it- not in negative sense, but to actually overcome constraints! If we can innovate with our ingrained Jugaad-o nature, and in second step, learn to strategize well – I think there is no stopping us! ‘Make in India’ can easily be changed to ‘Innovate in India’.

PS- No, no! This article on jugaad was not my jugaad, as I got too close to the deadline without a topic in mind. I am quite systematic that way!