India – well if truth be told, I don’t have words to describe what an amazing country it is. I think these wise words of Mark Twain would suffice, “India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend and the great grandmother of tradition.” You won’t find any other country so diverse and unique. We are the world’s biggest democracy having the longest constitution in the world. We profess “unity in diversity” and follow it. India was once called the ‘golden bird”, we had plenty of wealth, riches, food; we were prospering when we were robbed by the Mughals and then later colonized by the British. By the time we won our independence, we were crippled with poverty, illiteracy and debt. It is a developing country and we have come a long way from where we started our journey. Though it is a pity that many instances of communal violence, riots, periods of disharmony have tainted our history but we haven’t yet forgotten our true culture. I am proud to be an Indian and I love my country. We Indians grew up listening to songs like Made in India, It happens only in India, suno gaur se duniya walo, etc. However there are things that make me sad. While writing this article I had trouble to think of good things about India and we will all admit that the situation indeed is more inclined to the negative side. Though we have achieved so many things that any Indian will be proud to boast about but still we have a long way to go. Here is a list of some of the things that make me proud and some that make me sad and yes! these things happen only in India.
10. “Super” Train Journeys
The Indian Railways runs the world’s fourth largest rail-road network and is also among the largest employers. I am a frequent traveller in train and every time I see many foreigners travelling in the unreserved second class in spite of having the option of other more comforting classes. The reason is that travelling in an Indian train is an experience of a lifetime. As soon as the train you are wishing to board arrives on the platform, all hell breaks loose. There is an absolute chaos involving people trying to get out and get in at the same time. After getting in you will have to try to get on your seat, even if you do have a reservation given that you were able to get a confirm ticket after long waiting in a line or an hour of trying to access the IRCTC website, because someone will be trying to ask you for adjustment over seats or to move over your luggage. Our trains do have both Indian and Western style toilets; it is highly likely that you might see people getting in with an empty water bottle. Still even with all these hardships, there is a hope that you will find romance blooming on the train with a pretty female co-passenger.
9. Open defecation and urination
This is a very common sight every morning in Indian villages: People going to the fields with a water-filled container to answer the nature’s call. Did you know that about 50% of the Indian Population don’t have toilets in their home? So much for development! BBS columnist Rahul Tondon wrote about a house whose inmates had to paint their walls with the images of deities to prevent people from urinating on their walls. And also people spitting after having “paan” wherever they want is also common. Mumbai has actually introduced a “spit inspector” to stop people from spitting in public places.
8. Caste system and Reservation
This is one of those things that make me sad. Everything in India is based upon caste. There might not be any other place where there is a reservation based on caste in almost all walks of life whether it be education or getting a job. I am not against any caste system or reservations based on that, because it is indeed beneficial for those who are discriminated in our society of being a low-caste or untouchable, but it is a shame when a well deserved candidate loses a seat in a college or a job just because of his or her general category.
7. Animals are worshipped
India is a place where cows are considered holy and a snake is considered to be the nag devta. No one in their right mind will ever dare to hurt a cow or a snake, lest the wrath of gods falls upon them. It is a country having the famous Karni Mata Temple in Rajasthan where thousands of rats dine with people and scamper over their feet. This may give any elite European a nightmare but for Indians everything is about faith. They say that gods and goddesses can use any form to protect the believers, fish, bird or even a rat.
6. People arrested for liking a Facebook status
Many of us know about this incidence and are indeed shameful about it. Shaheen Dhada was arrested for a facebook status that she posted questioning the Mumbai shutdown or bandh, after the death of politician Bal Thackeray, under section 295 A and section 505 (2) of the Indian Penal Code for deliberate acts intended to outrage religious feelings. Her friend Renu Srinivasan “liked” the post and both were arrested followed by vandalizing of an orthopedic clinic owned by the uncle of one of the girls. This incident sparked a furor about the lack of freedom of speech in India and the post immediately went viral on facebook and twitter with many people supporting the girls by reposting and liking it.
India is full of people with countless superstitions. You will find Indians stopping mid-way if they see a cat especially black cat crossing their paths unless someone else crosses before them. They will drink a glass of water if someone sneezes while they were leaving for some important work. They have so much belief in auspicious days that there have been instances when parents induce fake labour pains or plan ahead so that their child is born on an auspicious day for a better future. Marriages are fixed according to the planetary movements. Gold sales peak on the day of Akshay Tritiya. To protect shops from “buri nazar” the evil eye, their owners tie lemon and green chilies at the entrance.
4. Cricket is a religion
For us, Cricket is a religion and Sachin Tendulkar is the god. Though our national game is hockey but cricket is above all. We bleed “blue”. For Indians, cricket players are our ideals who motivate us to perform better than ever. The starting of IPL has increased the cricket mania all the more promising the entertainment and fun of a 3 hour movie. From cafeterias to canteens, every place turns into a stadium when the Indian team gets on the ground. There is no other country where a cricket game can halt a whole nation. No other things ties the Indians together like Cricket which resides in the hearts of billions of Indians.
India is known for its traditions. Its customs are unique and some may even consider them conservative and orthodox but these traditions define an Indian and these are the reason that even today the family unit still survives and people have not lost hope over marriage as a sacred union of two individuals. It is still a place where the daughter-in-law covers her head in front of her elders; kids seek blessings from their parents and grandparents before going for exams. It is a place where people believe in ‘atithi devo bhava’ meaning guest is god. We remember the almighty before the starting of any auspicious event. The Indian wife still goes a day without food and water for the long life of her husband. On the down side there are also things that are severely criticized about India. India is the only place where girls are worshipped but killed before they are born. There is “moral police” to keep tabs on youngsters on Valentine’s Day with an aim to protect our Indian culture.
2. Indian Cuisine
India is famous all over the world for its mouth-watering cuisine. As soon as one thinks of India one thinks of food, with its thousand colours, aroma and textures at war to win over your taste buds. Indian food is known for its perfect blend and use of spices. Every city is famous for some particular dish for which it is known for, to name a few Rajasthani dal-baati-churma, mumbai’s vadapaav, Idli dosa native to Chennai, kerala porotta, hyderabadi biryani, makke di roti and sarso ka saag and the list goes on and on. One can’t just forget to mention sweets when it comes to Indian cuisine. We Indians love sweets and anyone who has once tasted the famous Bengali rasagulla can’t help himself but ask for more. Rajasthani ghevar, fini, Agra ka petha, gulabjamun, barfi, gujia, etc. are the things you won’t find anywhere but in India.
1. Diverse Culture
India is a land of diverse cultures, religions and communities. There are 28 states and 7 union territories and all of them have a different type of clothing, food and language. There are 22 official languages and more than 1600 dialects are spoken. Even after all the western influences and globalization, it has still managed to keep its cultural diversity intact. India is the only country which is an abode to people following so many religions: Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, etc. This is the only place where the word ‘Ali’ nestles in ‘Diwali’ and ‘Ram’ is present in ‘Ramzan’. Here one doesn’t care whether it is Christmas or Diwali or Eid, but every festival is celebrated with same zeal and excitement.