I believe there is a constant war of credibility between the folks of Delhi and Bombay. The Delhi-wallahs think that Bombay is all about the two Bs: the Bollywood blokes and the Builder blokes.
Whereas the Bombay-wallahs feel that Delhi is all about the two Ps: rude Politicians and even ruder Punjabis. But then stereotyping has always been an Indian trait. Everyone South of the Vindhyas is a Madrasi. Every South Indian dish has to be vegetarian with an overdose of coconut.
Every person with slit eyes is a Chinky from the North-East and so on. Hence, when I am told that India is non-racist, it cannot be further from the truth. We are hugely racist if and when we aren’t communal too. And sadly, with economic evolution this has only increased and not reduced, as it should have.
Why are we like this?
For starters, we are a nation of stereotypes in almost everything we do. We know how to out people and cultures into buckets. If you see a guy wearing torn jeans with some khadi kurta he will immediately be branded an intellectual even though the said person maybe a prized dolt. If we see some woman in chiffon and pearls, she must be a socialite. If we see a woman in a torn sari with chappals, then she must be Mamata Banerjee. We Indians have it in ourselves to judge everyone and everything except ourselves and our own ideology or the lack of it. We will never ever have a problem with our friends as long as they are friends but the moment they aren’t, we’ll bitch them out.
We hate the rich until they invite us to their homes. We will bitch masala films out but we will still yearn to see a Ranbir Kapoor gyrate or a Kareena Kapoor titillate. We love to fight for causes: so we will light a million candles seeking good governance but the moment it is our turn to vote, we will have a zillion excuses. In Delhi today, people are falling in love with the Aam Aadmi Party but I can wager the fact that the Congress is likely to be back.
We are a country of leopards that change their spots every day! But then if you dig deep, there is a reason for that. We are an ATM country. We want everything instantly and more often than not we don’t want to work for it. When we elect people, we know some of them are crooks and rogues but then we justify it by saying ‘better of the two evils’: when we protest about something that is happening to our country, we will look for the effect than the cause.
You don’t build a country this way.
To build a country you need to recognise the kind of country you want to leave behind for your heirs. But in India, it is only the kind of home or company that we want to leave behind. We are a stellar nation when it comes to institution busting. In the good old days, a man and woman got married: today, there is an inter-continental shift with the wedding taking its toll both on the guests and the blokes who are getting married.
The day is not far when we will be marooned not as a nation but as people who think so selfishly.
As long as we continue to stereotype everything we do, there is no escape from the present nor will we perceive any value from changing this status quo. Most countries attempt to progress. We are running to stay where we are and at times, to move back in some strange regression.
It is not a happy place to be in but then guess what? It still hasn’t hit us. And when it does, it may be too late. Think about it.