The Villain Without, The Villain Within

It’s difficult to begin when what you need done is the comprehension of all the problems you think are plaguing this nation. Irrespective of who you are or where you’re from, the problems encompass all sectors of the Indian machination – everything from production to consumption, from progress to preservation. Someone will hold the government culpable, someone else will hold the judiciary culpable (although I don’t understand the content of this accusation), and someone else will hold the people themselves culpable. Therefore, the problem is definitely not one-dimensional, but multi-dimensional simply because it is interdepartmental and interdisciplinary: what starts as kickbacks in the communications sector will culminate as inflation in the food sector, and many more such issues largely unpredictable in terms of their outcome because they are feasibly incalculable.

Whatever the solution may be, it has to begin inside one’s home. That is indisputable. When all the successes and failures of a country are attributed to its people more than anyone else, where else can it begin? For the sake of this post, I thought I’d consider what I think is wrong with my household, with the people inhabiting my household, with their perspectives of this world, with their influence on me. Please remember that, at the denouement, it is up to me to effect any change that I want executed, and that blaming people who have lived the same way for 40 – 60 years will serve to be of little purpose.

Laad Bazaar

Preserve or move on?

What irks me the most, if not the most often, is that everybody has to speak in the English as much as possible. One’s parents may be addressed as amma or appa, and one’s grandparents as thatha and paati, but beyond that, the time has to be asked for in the English, dinner must be asked for in the English, one’s friends addressed in the English; I may not be sure of it, but it is also possible that the kids be reprimanded in the English. Parents these days prefer having their child educated in an English-medium school. However, going by the current state of affairs, I don’t know whether they’re instructing in the English language or imposing the English way of life. I concede that it is, indeed, invaluable to be able to conduct and assist with transactions both commercial and otherwise; however, fewer and fewer people are asking why we learn the language in the first place. Having seldom bothered to know the purpose of inculcating a foreign tongue, the more-literate are voluntarily rendering the inculcation of a native tongue capricious. If that’s not an irony, I don’t know what is.

My grandparents still live in 1982, and this has had strange repercussions. I state that with considerable conviction because they reject technology and innovation – not to the end of disagreeing with the purchase of a PC so they can send and receive e-mail before they die, but to the end of misappropriating the successes of technology and instead attributing them to the resilience of the human spirit, ecumenically speaking. It is common knowledge, it is said, that advancements in science and technology have contributed palpably to the condition of life today, but it boggles me, sitting here, to think that everyone lauds technology for it. If there is no recognition, there will never be understanding, investment or development. Until 1982, the most significant contributions of science in the eyes of the common man were tanks, airplanes, bombs and corrosive gases – at least, that is what the engines and turbines looked like. For one, arguing with them even after knowing this bias is pointless. For another, when parents’ expectations are brought into the picture, incentives for defiance on the child’s part are overwhelmed by penalties levied for non-conformance. That’s what I call the loss of context.

Improper upbringing on the part of my grandparents has led to my parents being left with their dreams asphyxiated. Everybody knows how this story goes. For the sake of expounding on it, I direct you to this YouTube video a friend of mine turned me to about a year ago. It’s an episode of Poetry Slam (and I don’t suggest you skip it).

Is there more to the problems plaguing one’s household or have I captured all? I doubt that I have. Even IF most of what is hindering the best-laid plans of the country’s smartest and richest can be blamed on the asphyxiation of dreams, the loss of context and the irony of education, in all these years, the dissonance these ills have promulgated has perceptibly bled into the multifaceted intentions of the nation, setting not citizen against citizen but promise against promise, opportunity against opportunity.

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