Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jai Ho!!!

Owing to the lack of spam guards at Guwahati till third year, a number of junk mails would make it to everybody's inboxes, from the Director down.The most annoying of these mails was this proclamation which went something like this:

India has world's greatest brainpower

India invented the zero

Indian scientists are leaders at MIT and Silicon Valley

Bill Gates loves India

Third richest man in the world is an Indian (!!!!)
(etc. etc.)
Therefore, be proud to be an Indian!!! Jai Hind!!

I recieved this mail something like 10 times, each time sent by some idiot who clearly felt our patriotism could use a boost.

What kind of moron must keep preaching "be proud to be an Indian?". I'm not ashamed to be an Indian and I dare you to denigrate my country before me yes, but whatever achievements the country has made are split amidst a billion-plus people. Pride is something that should arise from individual achievement. What these mails preach is a blatant jingoism that smacks of some pretty deep insecurity on part of sender and creator alike. This same insecurity is seen when we jump for joy at Sunita Williams' achievement. An INDIAN in space, we say. Uh, and what of the fact that she was raised in America, is half-American and married an American? No no, she ate dhoklas in orbit!! There's deshbhakti for you. Similarly, we like to claim Rushdie, Desai, Lahiri and hajaar other such foreign citizens as our own, despite their not having been near the subcontinent in God knows how long. People who garn Western attention must be held close to the Indian bosom, no matter how tenuous the connection.

The reason for this rather lengthy intro is the news of Slumdog Millionaire winning 8 Oscars, including Best Picture. Or rather, the news of what happened after it. Readers here know my opinion of this film (go here for a quick refresher). A large section of the Indian populace found it similarly cliched and denigrating (see here), and the movie did not really sell in India.

But Sunday night changed everything. Monday (the corresponding day in India) became "India's day, a time to beam with pride as the world's largest democracy gathered up Oscar gold" to quote the LA Times.

"“What a day it has been for India!” gushed a television news anchor midmorning." to quote the New York Times.

And not to be left behind, our Param Pujya Pradhaan Mantri issued a statement saying that the people who worked on the film have done India proud, the Arthavyavastha Mantri said "the country of a billion people adopted Briton Danny Boyle's film as its own though it may not be an Indian film" and that said film marked the rise of Indian soft power and the Sansad "hailed the success saying the ‘historic achievement’ of three Indians winning Academy Awards is a global acknowledgment of the excellence of Indian artiste"

And India celebrated, apparently by going for a collective haircut if one is to believe the L A Times again.

Jai Ho!! Jai Ho!! Yet another reason to be proud to be an Indian. I can see the next mail coming.