IT’S NOT INDIA FOR ME YET

July, 2016: New Delhi (India)

Mostly awaken and partly in dreams I go everywhere, do my job and run my chores every day. What do I think of? Do I dream of big cars, huge bungalows or several other amenities I can gather or about a beautiful woman? No, I am busy making ends meet and I barely make enough to be able to put food on my table. So what do I dream of? I am a common man with simple interests without the luxury of even mourning on my losses for I have little time to invest into such unfruitful events.

I dream of better days.

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I may have a normal 9 to 5 job and maybe I am a daily wage worker but my reactions are common (read same) for every policy they make and every amendment they do. Why? Because results are the same. I am living the same way I have been living for past many years. What’s changed? The color of my trousers from dark blue to light shade of the same or wait! May be its greyish now and the color of buttons on my shirt too certainly, rest everything is the same.

I am promised things once in half a decade and then I wait for those promises to be fulfilled till it’s someone else’s turn to make similar promises and then not realize them. I really don’t know or want to know why they need to say so much if they can’t do it. My son won’t believe me if I’d lie to him and he comes to know it. Well, why only my son, nobody will trust me again the moment I can’t live up to my words. May be either they have not learnt this truth or probably they don’t care.

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I may not be happy when they sit in their buildings and make policies for our homes whom they call unauthorized colonies and slums, but I don’t mind it when they come to make promises for days I might not see in my lifetime – I am happy to hear them for I can earn 50 or 100 rupees just by standing inside or around those tents, below large loudspeakers, and clap every time they finish a sentence or pause to make another start. Sometimes I am also given flags which I can sew as cover for my pillow once I get two of those. I am certainly not moved by what they promise they can do rather I am perplexed if they can do anything at all.

I don’t feel enthusiastic if they make ties with another state or may be an investment is coming from another world as this never affects my life, again, as I am disappointed when I hear of scams of millions of rupees. This money was supposed to make my life better not of some foreign bank manager’s for I have heard they already have got plenty.

We were promised of milk, roads, ration and equal opportunities but we got stray cows, muddy byroads or road with potholes, ration cards but not enough ration and just few odd jobs that I do in a year or may be the same old office job and no security.

Now if you are mistaking it as my disgust, you are judging me. I am not at all pessimist or coward or anti-nationalist or anti-globalization. I love my country but not people who play sheep when they are predators.

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Well everyone’s got to help themselves and what’s wrong in that, you ask? It’s that they have these things – the promises made to me, stuck under their carpet for the next elections. No, not to be fulfilled, you are mistaken again, but to put a show about and then put under the same carpet, below the same chair, for another 5 years or so. I have voted and many of my acquaintances, family and people around me as well and sometimes I haven’t deemed any of them good, which is pinching. Then they say I am not at all interested in national interests and I am not patriotic. Why am I not a patriot, you ask? Because I haven’t got time for it. Don’t crease your forehead and frown; I am busy living; well, rather surviving. Darwin may have said it about the fittest but I like to think I am an exception for for the moment I seemed to be the most unfit creature to live around and be a part of them, for my ways are not sophisticated and aren’t deemed a lifestyle worth following. Often they have debates on TV and in newspapers- why people in this country aren’t as patriotic as a country in the west. Or why people don’t think about nationalism. This might come as blow to you – while some are ‘able’ to sit and write and speak and discuss and blame and shout about the patriotism, nationalism, rationale belief, equal opportunities, secularism and black money, most of us are busy earning just enough to keep us going. This makes me remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” said that the people will think of higher needs of recognition, belonging, esteem, spiritual and other abstract ones once the basic needs are fulfilled. So we aren’t there yet – most of us. But we are willing to make efforts provided you are willing to be fair. It’s a system of opportunists that has grew gradually from the chances of exploitation and blinding faith built up on the helplessness and non-unity. So before I think of India, I have other things to take care of. Between the time I wake up and by the time I go to sleep I can’t afford to accommodate the thoughts about nationalism and other types of display of affection towards my motherland.

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I am proud at times for world looks at us and we are talked about. What is more ironically funny is we are also the country contributing, significantly large if not most, illiterate and poor population to the world. We are developing but I see only a faint glimpse of it and it still is beyond my reach and till then it is only Sangam Vihar, Dharavi, Nagpur or Telangana or Nagaland for me. There is time for it to become India yet.

Photographs and Words – ©SanjeevKumarPandey

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