I Love My India…

Amit Sengupta

You might call me a pessimist, but I am not running away from the ritual of bitter realism which we drink like bad faith every day. You might pump yourself with film stars selling their miscellaneous products on television — ‘I love my India’ — and you might suddenly fly on the all that gas balloon of superpower, nuclear power India; but, honestly, you must be joking. Or you must be really sick, living in your clinical figment of shopping mall fantasies, in desperate need for an artificial adrenaline boost, looking for vanilla in a black hole of the unbearable lightness of being. 

The political and corporate elite of this compulsively poor and unhappy nation-state is on its thick-skinned brink, floating in a drugged state of déjà vu, brainwashed by the mediocrity of 24x7 television and Bollywood, and all that stands for the High Growth Rate, where jaundiced eyes and emaciated bodies stare at you from every damned corner of a failed nation. That it is all still holding together, despite the rut and the rot, is nothing but a filthy quagmire looking like still waters, stuck in the anti-clockwise vicious circle of being and nothingness. 

Jean Paul Sartre would call it a classic case of unfreedom celebrated as freedom. Erich Fromm would be more subtle about this ‘escape from freedom’ phenomena, whereby you actually run away when you see a moment of authentic meaning, so conditioned their minds have become with all the hypocrisies, thoughtlessness, untruth, insensitivity, organised corruption and lack of intellect and feeling which marks this pumped up, simulated consciousness of ‘I love my India’. 

Which India, you might ask? What is your India? In which glorious geography and social history is this India situated? Inside a multiplex showing a garrulous, third rate, mindless Bombay movie, a shopping mall with scary escalators, in the wisdom of our antiseptic celebrities who are posited as role models? Or does it reside inside the manufactured domesticity in a gigantic multi-floor, multi-billion building of the richest man in India, the absurd architecture showing a dirty finger to the city of slums next to the sea? 

So, whose India is it, is it only for those, the obscenely rich, who control everything we see, eat, feel, pray, live, love: gas, petroleum, radio, cinema, TV channels, newspapers, multimedia, water, electricity, food, retail, vegetables, philanthropy, real estate, cosmetics, daily needs, soap, shampoo, cricket, you name it. Whose India is this, theirs or ours? 

Between the corporates, the political class and the bureaucracy, it’s a thick skin which marks this stink, and we all know how it stinks, because we don’t smell it anymore – like half of urban and rural India shitting in the open, or tens of thousands living next to filthy, dirty, shitty nullahs which were once pristine rivers, where half-naked children with bloated stomachs play games. Are they children of ‘I love my India’, or should they all die slowly of epidemics and dirty waters of urbanity’s waste? 

How many examples of cold blooded brutality can we witness to become more thick-skinned, without ethics or hope? Like the Bob Dylan song, how many days does it take for the prime minister to realise, for instance, that scores have been butchered in Kokrajhar in Assam, and a few lakh are living an open-to-sky life, eating and shitting in under the big blue bedspread?  The darkest irony is that he has not even contested an election to become the PM; besides, he is a Rajya Sabha MP from Assam! What are his emotional linkages with this beautiful, unlucky state, one of the marginalised seven sisters of the Northeast? Does he have strong emotions about anything – except on how to push in market fundamentalism down our throats to benefit the corporates at any cost? 

They killed 17 tribals in cold blood in Chhattisgarh. And we are all supposed to rejoice! As if nothing happened. Nothing happened? You kill your own people and you want us to sing, Satyamev Jayate? 

Tens of thousands have committed suicide in Vidharbha, and the Union agriculture minister is still positioning for more power, despite the cash-rich BCCI in his lap. Pray, what will he do with more wealth and more power when he has all but dumped his own people in the state trapped in a severe, protracted drought?

Truly, I love my India. Hum mein hain Hero… Hero go, India go! 

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: AUGUST 2012