Today is Republic Day in India, the day when India (my country of birth) really became a nation, when it’s constitution came into effect.
Here is what I think the Indian people are up to……….
Across the nation, around 5% – the folks at the very top – are scurrying around in their Merc-350s or Toyota Land Cruisers with revolving lights, from one parade ground to the next, raising flags, waxing eloquent on seven decades of growth, prosperity and communal harmony. They drive off in a hurry, as little children wave little flags wildly at them.
Just below in the food chain are the 25%, the one I used to belong to, the most interesting demographic segment in India, educated folks who own modest flats and cars. This is the India that the outside world sees – the Indian middle class. Republic Day is the day when tears of pride brim their eyes when they watch those parades and flag hoistings on TV. This is the segment that used to shut India down on Sundays when the state-run Doordarshan TV aired ‘Mahabharat’.
Next we have around 35% – minimally educated slum dwelling folks who are aware of a day called Republic Day but are too consumed by the effort to survive, to be able to appreciate what the day means to them. Just as well, since the day really doesn’t mean anything to them.
The last 35% is the one that shows Republic Day up to be such a huge farce – illiterate folks in the hinterland who have never heard of anything known as Republic Day. They are too busy eking out a near hunter-gatherer existence, consumed by only one thought – of how to make it through the day.
By this evening, India will go back to looking like one of those snowglobes that you get in dollar stores, after you have stopped shaking it and all those tiny white particles have settled at the bottom.