A hundred years ago, in 1911,
The Jana Gana Mana, which later became free India’s National Anthem, was sung for the first time at the annual convention of the Indian National Congress at Calcutta…
The first flight (a Humber biplane carried mail from Allahabad to Naini junction) took place in India…
The first Indian team and the first Asian team defeated a foreign team when they won the 1911 IFA Shield defeating the East Yorkshire Regiment…
Today, a hundred years later, in 2011—the free India that we live in has not much to boast about, other than the figures on paper which supposedly indicate our growth rate, and the billions in our kitty with which we go arms-shopping. The latter lures some of the leading leaders of the world to talk about India being their ally or even a nation which has significant potential.
All our national symbols are in a shameful state of extinction, death or bankruptcy. The Maharaja is on the verge of closure due to bankruptcy… the tiger is on the verge of extinction… the national game—hockey (yes, it is not cricket) is gasping for air and well, the national morale is dead, and national pride is outsourced.
Yes, a sense of apathy and gloom seems to be overwhelming us quite forcefully in the past few years. The media plays on our cynicism and does quite a good job of thickening its layers within us. While the panellists on the news channels scream incessantly and the members in the Parliament flex their muscles and each goes about guided by self-interest alone, can we pause and think a bit? Can we do our bit? No, not because our Independence Day is round the corner, but because our nation is our identity and we have no option but to live by it. If we make our identity a little less shameful, it shall make living easier for us. From the point of view of our self-interest then, let us take a few small steps…
There is not much meaning anymore in dwelling on the broader picture; on the macro-reality…as it is quite a humongous task to start ushering change therein. Hey! What if we cannot change the world at large… we can very well take our own small steps in our own lives… and usher in change that shall onset a chain reaction !!!
Just as we go about living our own private little lives, unmindful of others—so also, we can go about doing our bit, unmindful of what and how much are others doing. Beginning with whether we, our nation or rather this planet needs more children or not—take your call. Similarly, whenever we go about taking our shopping cart swirling around the super market, let us think three to five times, before we mindlessly consume. Do we really need all those creams and those many conditioners or those many cleaners and softeners or floor cleaners? Can we have a little mercy on the suffocating rivers and other water bodies? Do we need to keep buying newer models of cars, mobiles, laptops, watchers and other gadgets—all of which are going to increase that dangerous stockpile of non-biodegradable e-waste? At least, let us wait till humanity arrives at some solution to get rid of the toxic waste. Can we pause a while and then splurge? If each one of us can do that, we shall do our bit and the resultant change will not be miniscule but definitely a bigger one.
Can we also pause before we act and react with other fellow humans? Is it possible to detoxify our relationships? Maybe small steps but let us at least begin. Let us accept the rights of others to do as they please, and let go of the instinct to ‘control’. This one small step will drastically reduce violence in our societies. One small step in cutting our respective egos and urges a little bit, and we shall talk better with others. We shall be able to treat others more respectfully and lives shall be a little happier. Domestic violence, molestation, abuse of children, senior citizens and minorities, incest, and many other ills can be more effectively controlled by our small steps than the huge plans and policies of our governments. We alone have to live in our society. It will do us no harm if we can make it a little less ugly. Do not worry about what others are doing. Do your bit. You talk with and treat others respectfully and genuinely not try to control others and that shall be enough. In the chain reaction that ensues, a little less use of anti-depressants, sedatives, mind controllers, and sleep-inducers shall also beautify the society immensely.
There are roles for which we are paid and those for which we aren’t—at least not monetarily. We are engineers, doctors, teachers, system analysts or bankers…and then we are fathers, mothers, sisters, sons… Is it possible to take a small steps in the way we carry out the roles. Probably, we can borrow a few minutes from the time that we spend before the TV analysing whether the PM is playing his role well or not. Have you taught the right values to the children whom you have brought here on this planet? Are they turning out to be humane, intelligent, capable, and well-balanced individuals? Do they whine and complain; aggressive and angry; dissatisfied and selfish; insensitive and ignorant? Well then, that is the kind of society we and they will have to live in… Do they and do we throw the garbage of the house and the vengeance of our system out at the designated place? And what about the roles for which we are paid? If only every sweeper would have done his job; every minister his duty; every security personnel his vigil; every doctor, every teacher and every person his role effectively, our country would not have been on the verge of losing its national ethos within less than a century of its Independence.
Just a few minutes of reflection before we react, act, consume, spend, teach, produce, burst out, talk, write, and throw.
The decision is a big one.
The steps are small though.
The impact will be huge, nevertheless.
Dr. Navniit Gandhi
Dr. Navniit Gandhi is an academician and an author. She has authored two Books, two online-Booklets, and several articles in newspapers and magazines, till date.