Who are we?…

Who are we as Indians? I frequently ponder at this question while I’m driving on the road. I see utter chaos on the roads…people cutting traffic rules brazenly, driving on the wrong side of the road, jumping signals without regard to their safety or others. This is not just about the traffic in India…but a larger question on who are we? Is this what we are as Indians?

I find the traffic scenario to be a manifestation of our Indianness. The Indianness that we all so proudly cherish. Yes, as Indians we have a lot to look and feel proud about. Our rich culture and heritage, our famed resilience for any adversity and our will to survive any odds. But is this will now becoming a means…a free pass for us to disregard the feelings of our fellow Indians?

Life is a struggle for us, yes..we all start our day with the motivation to earn two square meals for us and our dear ones. We start our day from home by praying to God that the day passes through fine. With a smile on our faces we step out of the house, only to be confronted with the harsh realties of life. Be it on the road, the train or the bus. We brazenly break rules..display a callous indifference to our fellow passengers who’re just as eager to reach their destinations and get their day started. We drive on the wrong side of the road and if someone dare question us for that..we shamelessly shout back at that person or just turn a blind eye to him. While in the bus or the train we do not forsake our prime seats for the women, children or the elderly. In our mad rush…have we forgotten something called “insaniyat”…the beautiful word that could have only come from this land?

As a society we’re an uncivilized, disorganized, unruly, unlawful and yes…unsympathetic bunch of people. We preach morality to the rest of the world, but forget basic etiquettes of civilized behavior when it comes to practicing it among ourselves.

Rule of law is something that we have absolutely no regard for. This feeling permeates through every strata of our society…be it the rich executive or the simple thelewala. If the police catches us breaking the law, we simply think of bribing them to achieve our purpose.

Now mind you, one might say that its the government…its the system. But what is the government and the system? It is us..we the people that form the government and system. If we’re willing to have our way by bribing the constable…why would he refuse it? He is human and needs that money for his family. But are we right in offering him a bribe to save our skin? Absolutely not, we’re the greater offenders in my opinion…we’re committing a double crime by committing the first offense and then the second offense of bribing a law enforcement person.

In our private discourses we often hurl choicest of abuses at the Western world. Fair enough, they have their own massive drawbacks…too much consumption, disregard for elders, too much of an emphasis on “me” and an undercurrent of racist behavior (more on this later…). How are we any better than them is what I ask? We have no regard for rule of law, no sense of civic responsibility (look around and see how we openly urinate in public, deface public monuments…and the ubiquitous paan stains all over) and bad habit of poking our noses in other peoples’ lives.

I feel disgusted by this behavior of our fellow Indians. I am proud to be an Indian…but watching their behavior makes me ponder…who are we??