Monday, August 15, 2011

Independence Day 2011

So, last week I was thinking what's special this Independence day. First, I thought "Wow! Maybe India will throttle England the previous evening at Birmingham". Well, lets not talk about it. Then I thought maybe I'd press Dad for a drive to Pondicherry. Yeah! I'm getting too optimistic these days. After some stupid ideas here and there, I found myself in front of my TV on Thursday night when Aarakshan (the movie) and its ban was making headlines everywhere. I irresistibly wanted to see the movie asap and thanks to Santosh for cancelling his trip to Coimbatore, we caught it at PVR last night (Saturday). I didn't see the damn co-incidence until then. But, I have been all pumped up and energetic since then.

No, I'm not going to review the movie. However, as a nation we need to stand up and applaud Prakash Jha's guts to have touched an issue as sensitive as reservation (reejerwaysun as the guy sitting next to us pronounced it when we asked him the meaning of aarakshan). You'd be disappointed as I was, if you thought the movie is about taking the side of a specific so called (under/over/beneath/upper/super-over/deep-under/whatever) privileged section of the Indian society. I don't blame him because as a sincere filmmaker he has come up with an unbiased screenplay. He has tried to bring about a balance and left it there, for us to make the judgement. In a nutshell, whichever category/view-point you belong/support, you'd not feel left down.

As every Indian citizen (who never believes in a balance), I had my reservations against reservation. Any student/parent who have sat through the Anna university Engineering admission counselling center would have that anger (when the green mark against your preferred seat becomes red and you are still outside). Thanks to the deemed (read as your-money-is-doomed) university concept, I was exempted of that tension. I haven't put much effort for my boards and its fair to say that I have had my share of luck when it came to all those phases of my life. However, what my sister went through during her counselling (poor thing - a shot so sincere as hers deserved better) was unacceptable to me. Well, no regrets now. She has found her way out and in style.

Ask me and I'll blame it on our rich but biased tradition. Call me non/un/fun Indian but I'm not going to take that back. I believe in Satyameva Jayathe and Athithi Devobhava as much I detest the difference that our culture has created. What the hell are we supposed to do? Our ancestors came up with a profession based caste/class system. Well, it suited them and that time period. Even then, only a person well-trained and fit for the job did it. After hundreds of years, how many millions of people have moved out of their ancestral profession? But, why do we still have this caste system that rooted in profession? And why this class system that rooted in caste? Thank God that there was no IT (profession/caste) back then. Man! We (IT people) wouldn't even have water to drink today.

Coming back, yeah, I have always asked, "Why 50%? Give 100%". Whatever I knew but would never accept, hit me hard about how true it is after seeing the movie. One set of ancestors are literate. Another set is not. One set is hard-working. Another just knows to boss around. So, reservation actually came into place to set a common platform. But how successful was that?

It was pretty successful for all, except for those it was meant to help. The politician transformed poor dalit leader (not anyone specific) who loudly voiced (BRAVO!!!) against untouchability, caste-ism, racism etc, and even went for jail to get reservation to be implemented, is fine. His children are rich. His grandchildren were born with a silver spoon. He goes to the US for treatment even if all he has is diarrhea. He gets a personal VIP darshan in Tirupathi. He is corrupt to the core and when arrested/questioned, he will claim that he is being targeted because of his caste.

What happened to the people he raised his voice for? They were listening to him and praising him back then. They were really anticipating him to bring about a big transformation in the system. That he did. They expected their lives to change. That he didn't let. For him, they have to stay the same today and they obediently have.

Media. I'm not sure if they toss up a coin before covering a story, to decide their stand. They research. They run around. They analyze. They question. They answer. They cover. They uncover. Only thing. If they do any of the above abiding by the laws of democracy and journalism, and not for their TRP rating, it makes lot of sense. Someone supports reservation, they make it an issue. Someone talks against reservation, they make it an issue. Someone makes a movie about reservation, they make it an issue. It was far better when media said issue and it only meant the day's issue of the newspaper.

Reiterating that our rich culture has nothing but created divide among us, the only thing we will ever be united about is being different. Its like my workplace. Testers and Developers hate each other and keep fighting until the management announces Q4 results and say, "No Incentives this year". If they show the unity of voicing (silent enough that no one will hear) against the management, in their work, the product will be light years ahead in terms of quality. This difference exists from education to matrimonial.

Religion, Caste, Sub-caste, Super-Sub class, Sect, Language, Star and the horoscope. If only all these match, the guy or girl is qualified for judgement as the actual match. Don't even get me started on horoscope. To my knowledge, if the positioning of the celestial bodies at the time of your child's birth matters so much, all you have to do is to DO IT at the right time after calculations and predictions. If that catches up, all astronomical towers will be full of father-in-laws and mother-in-laws. What if every child starts blaming his/her parents for why their horoscope doesn't match with what they want to do in life?

Again, we are going way away from the topic. My point is that as long as these differences exist, someone is benefited. Simple example. There is a saying in Tamil that roughly translates to, "If the town is split, the clown makes merry". He gets double the chances to perform and it doubles his income. Thus, this split that was accidentally created among us benefits a whole lot of people who will do anything to keep it that way. And the vote bank turned reservation system will remain like that forever.

It sounds very simple and bad-ass annoying when I say that I look at Independence this way. The bigger picture. If the British were still ruling us, the only division in this country probably by now would have been them and us. :)

But, that's just a stupid thought. I'm still one among the proudest of Indians in Independent India. On this day, having blurted out so much and having let out my boohoos, I salute all those great people who spilled sweat and blood to win us the India that we have for ourselves to ru(i)n. I wish all of you a very Happy Independence Day!

For a change, lets try practicing it.