National

The India Story And A Bouquet Of Narratives

Bharat has changed. We are a Vishwaguru. Stop whining

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A protest march over Manipur violence
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The enlightening conversation with the old man happened at a place named Chitkul—the last inhabited village on the Indo-China border in Himachal’s high-altitude Kinnaur district. Exactly 30 students studied in the only government school in the village.

On a fine morning, they were playing a game of tug of war. The picturesque, snow-capped Himalayan range stood tall in the background. An old man from the village was breaking cobbles with a hammer. The path leading to the school was full of these cobbles, causing inconvenience to children. The old man took it upon himself to break the cobbles so that a stable pathway could be built. Every morning, he would spend a couple of hours breaking large cobbles with a hammer; one cobble at a time. Silently, diligently. No one asked him to. He wasn't getting paid for it.  

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He replied in monosyllables, without looking up. When asked if he knew who the prime minister of the country was, he knew. The year was 2014. Even a last-mile village like Chitkul, like all of us, was excited about the impending good days. There was a sense of optimism all around. The country was changing, people were changing as well. 

The old man's selfless love for Bharat was worth appreciating. The fact the village was devoid of basic facilities like healthcare, education, proper roads, electricity and water did not bog him down. Just like our soldiers posted at Siachen or Kargil. Harsh weather condition is not an impediment. Bharat comes first. The old man, in his own way, was helping in nation-building by focusing on development in an under-developed village. Amrit Kaal, after all, is not just a slogan. To make it a reality is a collective effort.    

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It seems like we are already on the auspicious path. Bharat just hosted a very successful G-20 summit, just another feather in the present government’s already feather-y cap. 

Dilli kitni sundar ho gayi hai (Delhi is looking beautiful these days),” said Mohammad Husain Raza, an Uber driver. Because of the massive beautification drive being undertaken by authorities, traffic snarls were common ahead of the summit. But no one was complaining. At least Raza wasn’t. Public Works Department (PWD) workers were placing giant PWD-embossed flower pots on the pavement. When asked if the three-day mini-lockdown was going to impact him, Raza—whose family of five is entirely dependent on the couple of thousands he makes by driving around his cab for 14-16 hours a day—says: “It’s a small price to pay. The summit is very important for the country.”  

There are some delightfully ordinary people around us who have extraordinary love for Bharat. For every anti-national intellectual and journalist criticising the government and government policies on ‘Prime Time’, screaming their lungs out, there are these people who defend the government. They are everywhere. They even sneak into our WhatsApp and enlighten us by sharing WhatsApp University gyaan. Some highly educated and privileged people of all ages as well as ‘NRI uncles’ who left Bharat in the 60s, 70s and 80s are a part of this clan too. They all remind us of our glorious past and an even more glorious future.   

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Sadly, these true Bharatwasis don’t make ‘breaking’ headlines, no one covers them, they are not news space-worthy. That's the nature of news business these days. Agenda setting and building narratives on a daily basis are, after all, time consuming tasks. Image is everything.  

But we need to celebrate these desh'bhakts'. Despite the hardship they face in their day-to-day lives, they thrive, and they thrive happily even under unhappy circumstances. Failed welfare schemes and economic policies, unemployment data, currency fluctuations, press freedom, corruption, inflation, stagflation, freedom of speech and expression, Manipur and rising fuel prices are secondary issues. Some of them struggle for daily bread and butter, but they are ready to be “2 Rs trolls’.  

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After all, it’s all about perspective. We are empowered enough to pick our narrative. The one that suits us. So, next time if we get stuck in a traffic jam, we should not complain about traffic mismanagement, overpopulated cities, too many cars, or collapsing urban infrastructure. Instead, a couple of stark-naked children from a nearby urban slum dancing beneath a fountain in a public park visible from our car window should bring smiles to our faces.  

Every heart-breaking story these days has a heart-warming counter-story. The present media takes care of that. Instead of getting disheartened by the news of Cheetahs dying one after the other at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, they want us to take pride in the fact that effective government policies have helped tiger population in the country to surge. Instead of complaining about moon-like craters on city roads in monsoon, they want us to celebrate the fact that we are the only country that has managed to land near the moon’s south pole. Instead of worrying about the high number of unemployed youth in the country, they want us to take pride in the fact that frying pakoras is a skill that is being promoted as entrepreneurship; a new way of job creation. Men, women and infants dying at a government hospital in Nanded in Maharashtra, or any government hospital in the country for that matter, is a grim reality, but let's not forget that we aced the Covid vaccine game.
  
Distraction is key. And this is positive distraction. Here’s an example straight from our kitchens. Very recently, the humble tomato went missing from our cuisines for a few days. Soon after, the LPG cylinder prices were slashed by Rs 200. Amid the euphoria, no one bothered to address one of the main reasons behind tomatoes going berserk—the unusual heat of March and April resulted in pest attacks, which took a toll on tomato production. How is unusual heat a government problem? It’s a global phenomenon. Climate change is real, and farmers will have to be innovative to deal with weather vagaries; government policies won’t help much. Why blame the government for the loss of lives and property in Himachal floods. The hills are shredding, because glaciers are melting. What can the government do? So, please board a Vande Bharat and rush to the nearest hill station. Tourism must thrive.

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Numbers matter, data matters. Yes, some data is hidden from the public eye for public good, but the rest of it can be managed to justify the rise and rise of Bharat. 
 
Bharat has changed. We are a vishwaguru. Keep your petty grievances aside. Bharat is a huge and a hugely diverse country. We will always have a handful of anti-nationals who will oppose everything. There are going to be minor hiccups in the form of regional disturbances or communal tensions. One such ‘anti national’ rightly said in a movie: bade bade desho me choti choti baate hoti rehti hai. The other ‘anti-national’ who commented on growing intolerance in the country was asked to go to the neighbouring country.  

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Hence, be wise. Choose your side. Go where the masses are going. For your peace of mind.  

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