Monday, January 25, 2010

There is much more to this beautiful country called India...


Today Indians all over the world celebrate the 60th year of Indian Republic, and this is an extremely proud and nostalgic moment for the people of India, who remember and regard the freedom fighters who fought tooth-and-nail to free India from the British colonial rule.

India’s tryst with destiny
It makes me recall that famous speech that Jawaharlal Nehru (popularly called Chacha Nehru) gave at the stroke of midnight on 14th Aug 1947, when he (Nehru), the first Prime Minister of Independent India and a majestic orator announced the dawn of India's freedom to the world. He said, "Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially."

He goes on to take the pledge saying," At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity." See the whole audio of Nehru’s speech on Youtube.

The over-amplified underbelly
Let me corroborate the title of this blog article with a real life incident that occurred with me a few days back. I had this short acquaintance with a group of about 4 tourists who seem to be completely in love with India and who wanted to spend 15 days simply touring this colorful and earthly country. This young and vibrant group had planned a short stopover of about 2 days in Mumbai and I was completely impressed by their thoughts about India and infact I was all geared up to help them make the best of their stay in Mumbai. 

I was all set out to help our visitors get the best from their tour in Mumbai. So, I made a quick mental checklist of places that I need to take them to, which included the famous monument, Gateway of India, shopping for some authentic leather at the leather market in Dharavi, a quick drive down the 4.5km stretch of the iconic Bandra-Worli sealink, dining and a quick tour to the beautiful heritage structure of India, the Taj Mahal hotel and palace….etc.

When I told the group about all that we can do, I was taken aback when I got to know, what they actually have come to do and see in Mumbai. They very simply said that, “All they want to see is the slums of Mumbai.” At that instance, I was filled with mixed emotions…a feeling of anger, shock and sadness crept inside me. I was not really happy of what India’s visitors thought about India….they only wanted to see the dark side…..the underbelly of Mumbai. Maybe I should thank (sarcasm implied) the so-called blockbuster, the Oscar winning movie, Slumdog millionaire, which over exaggerated the underbelly of Mumbai….and missed out on the developed and liberated India.

I have nothing against the movie….but the censor board needs to be cautious next time it permits movies which tell one side of the story and ignore the good part of it. People form opinions and change attitudes based on what media shows them.

We agree that with all the hype and the seamless development that has happened in India over the last decade-especially in Mumbai- a section of the slums still exists. But this section of Mumbai is not a tourists spot for god sake!! This is a section of society that has to be improved to bring it on par with the rest of Mumbai, and I am pretty optimistic that this change will happen quiet rapidly.

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Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!

And remember to stick around, because life is beautiful ;-)