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I breathed life in 1979 in India. I lived here for twenty-some years, and then lived in US for ten years. The question of whether I feel proud to be an Indian is one which fills me with emotions. My loving mother, brother, cousins, uncles and aunts live in India. I dearly love some of the Bollywood movies. The teachers I respect most are those I encountered in India.

When thinking of whether I feel proud to be an Indian, it is natural for me to compare what I have seen in India with what I have seen in US. When comparing US to India, the first thing that involuntarily comes to mind is traffic, roads, poverty, and uncleanliness in India. Just yesterday or so, I read an article in Times of India (TOI) by a professor V Sunder of IMSc in which he mentioned that the first thing a six year old girl had to say after visiting US, was that she was able to cross the roads safely there. In general, traffic and roads is just one dimension of a country’s infrastructure. In all dimensions – be it power, internet, public conveniences etc. India is far behind US and even other developing nations like China. The only thing one can take consolation in, is that it could be much worse if you were living in some other countries. On the plus side, India’s infrastructure is gradually improving. CNG based buses were introduced in Delhi, Delhi Metro and its international airport are commendable achievements.

The country could do much better if it were not because of our corrupt politicians. There is no dearth of funds, but they go into these politicians’ pockets. This is our country’s biggest problem. And we are fed up of it. In this regard, my hearts go out to people like Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and their team who are battling selflessly for a corruption free India. If corruption ends in India, there is nothing to stop India from becoming a true world power and among the top ten countries of the world. However, the reality is that there does not seem to be an end to corruption in India. It is only getting worse. It is a shame that UP Chief Minister can blatantly use public funds to construct her statues all over the place. What can one say about the various ongoing scams - 2G scam, commonwealth games scam, etc. Bribery and extortion have become commonplace in India.

I now want to talk about the value of human life in India. Close to zero. I recently came to India in August 2011. In a span of one and a half month, I can recall at least three bomb blasts in the country – first in Mumbai (Zaveri Bazaar), then in Delhi High Court, and then in Agra. It fills the heart with grief to see the level of security politicians have arranged for themselves vs. people of the nation. Today’s (24/9/2011) TOI had front line news of a toll guard being shot over Rs. 27. The suspect is likely to be a politician’s kin or goon. In some sense, there is an uncanny resemblance between modern India and India of the past. The people of our nation are still being ruled – by “public servants” and politicians now.

Indian Govt. leaves much to be desired to protect our cultural monuments. Pollution is another story. The level of obsession with imported things and USA is another story.

The thing that I find most remarkable is that even after all this, most Indians feel proud to be an Indian. Is it because they have not lived in any other country, and so don’t have anything to compare India against?

I think the biggest praise for India will come from some NRIs who are comfortably settled abroad in developed nations. They have some attachment or the other with their motherland. Or perhaps because they are not doing anything for their country, and never face the atrocities a common man faces here, they take consolation in telling everyone that India is great.

As for myself, the corruption and crime I see in India, does not make me feel proud to be an Indian. What I am proud of is the “sanskars” I got being an Indian, and the immense sense of hope and hard-work I see in the aam aadmi of India. I salute to the spirit of the aam aadmi in India – s/he is constantly persevering and believes in “Phir Subah Hogi”.

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