So it's India's independence day. 64th, as the status updates from Facebook have told me. What does it mean to me. Nothing. Till 2008, it meant a day off (I was already unemployed in Aug 2009). From work or college or school as the case may be. In school there was still something special about it. Going to school, singing the national anthem and getting sweets It felt a little different from other holidays. This year, but for Facebook, I wouldn't have noticed. The only date I care about right now is 21st August. That's when I get back to Charlottesville.
I find the 'India, I love you and miss you', 'Proud to be an Indian', 'It's India's time' themed messages and emails to be hilarious and confusing at the same time. I don't get it. I am as proud to be an Indian as I would have been to be a Chinese or a Kenyan. I don't have any control over that, right. My nationality and my country's past and present. More correctly - I haven't done anything to show my patriotism for my country. Lead a pretty comfortable, safe, normal life and pursued my self interests which will satisfy my materialistic and intellectual needs. Will I ever do something helpful for my country? Do I at all have any intentions to do so. Maybe and Yes. I don't know how or when but I do have this deep seated desire to contribute. No, not give a huge donation to charity when I am a millionaire. Something more lasting. Something which is not as easy as giving money.
I do realize that I am saying this sitting in the US, pursuing an MBA and planning to get a job which keeps me in this country for a few years. Double standards, right? I agree. And that's the reason I feel a little uneasy on such occasions. It bothers me (not as much as I would want it to, though) that so much of my life is centered just around me and nothing bigger. My dad gave the best years of his life and more to a steel plant. Yes, it gave him back a lot, but he belonged to the generation which saw the birth of the great Indian middle class. He contributed to it. He was part of the 'Nation Building' which Nehru had started. True, circumstances were different and had at times more bearing on his life's choices than intent. At least, that's my hypothesis. So this is not a comparison of character. It's more a stating of the facts.
And this brings me to my original point. I don't like it when people fool themselves by sending out emails and forwards on 15th August. It's almost like a compensation for not doing anything at all for the rest of the year. Of course, there are people who are saving lives in villages, fighting corruption and at the same time indulging in the mass forwards. My apologies to them. But I think that the majority is more or less like me. Actually a little worse, because at least I don't spam! I wish someday we would be able to come out of this. I wish that we would realize that a lot of us would lead very selfish lives and not try to put on a facade for a day to portray otherwise. I hope, however, that most of us get tired of it and end up doing something which has far more impact than a million status updates. That as the fortunate, highly educated, forward thinking 'future' of the country, we are able to change a few things.