It is not special and there's nothing much to write about either. Over the last few days there's been this cricketing controversy in Australia that has brought the entire nation together. And that made me wonder why the nation doesn't come together at other times. In a dream, this collective outcry for justice is not misplaced jingoism. But in reality it is nothing more than just that.
But, for the sake of the hundredth post, we will skirt reality and the real issues plaguing us and indulge like a birthday boy. We will assume there is this conglomerate of all the Indian business houses, not unlike Capone's syndicate, but for a better cause. We would assume today that the Tatas, Birlas, Ruias, Ambanis, Murthys, Premjis, Majumdars, Mahindras, Godrejes, Mittals, and Mallyas have formed a circle, holding hands. To make it even more dramatic, take a low angle shot and make the sun set from between the legs of the tallest among them. That should be Ratan Tata, I think. They are holding hands and have formed a huddle like our Indian cricket team, with their heads lowered and chanting something unintelligible. In unison. They are in a pledge. Are they talking about how to help India overcome the shame of being number 127 in the world (the poorest of the poor are here too, so don't run to Bangladesh or Somalia when you want to adopt a child) and also close the gap between the poor India and the other image of India which makes it the eighth richest country too? "I mean, hellowww?" they must be saying right now.
I look to my right (and by some strange cliched imagery embedded in my mind all this was happening in front of the Gateway of India, Mumbai...even the sun setting between Ratan Tata's legs was setting into the Arabian Sea...) and see a young IIM graduate talking about her dream to a bunch of her frnds. She is worried about the migrant laborers and their children. Her dream is to make sure these children get free education wherever their parents go. For now she wants to start in Bangalore, a city that has seen an unprecendented amount of concrete structures come up in no time. She has already started by getting a few people in her area to teach the kids. And as she was talking, someone in the group suggested getting medical insurance for these people. How will she convince these guys to part with Rs 1000 every year for the sake of medical insurance, I wondered, and moved along the promenade. There were more interesting things to see.
At the next congregation, there was a hot debate on about why India doesn't get a medal from the Olympics. Dola Banerjee is the world number 1 in archery, Vishy Anand is the chess world champion, we are the twenty-twenty world champions, Narain won the A1 GP in China, but we don't have athletes or swimmers. One guy suggested we should get enough money channelized into athletics to pump up the sagging spirits of parents who put their children in tennis and cricket classes. Like hockey has seen a revival, let us get the sponsors too. Who will give this fool his money? A cricketer can make more off the field just by posing for a brand . . . why will parents listen to this dreamer? I walked on . . . soon we will have 5 million software engineers and 2 million cricket stars . . . I wonder who will build the bridges over the Godavari and the Ganges!
Dreams tend to end when you are at the most interesting part. Mine, however, faded. I walked down the beach and there was a lot more to hear, emerging voices of the youth who have idolized Che thirty years after he died, of Indians who have come back from their cushy jobs abroad to do their bit for the country . . . and by the time the sun finally set that night, I knew India had changed. There's hope of a few Indians who love their country to emerge from the shadows of petty personal goals and to stand up for one cause or another. By the time the sun rises again, these men and women will replace the Pappu Yadavs and Deve Gowdas and stand beside the Jyotiradityas, Rahuls, and Omar Abdullahs.
Am awake now. But something makes me want to believe the dream.
(My belief in "someday" is strong. It is baseless, but strong nonetheless. You gottu give me that much for being an emotional, oversensitive Indian. One such someday reads like this: "Someday, we will either quit spitting on the roads, or will reach such a height that there will be special schools in Denmark teaching kids how to spit on the roads.")