Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Tale of Two Faces

Today morning's peek-a-boo at Desipundit informed me that The Republic of India is alarmingly surrounded by "Failed States" on all sides.Being the avid Googler I looked into Google News for a deeper insight.It seems that someone came up with a 12 point rating system where the countries are evaluated.Higher your rating....lower is your country's state of affairs.Name any one of our neighbouring countries : Pakistan, Afghanistan, Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal....they all have scored almost a perfect 10 in all the indicators that characterises A Failed State.Our big neighbour across the Himalayas the Peoples' Republic of China came 54-th way ahead of India whose ranking was 93 among the 146 countries around the globe.Pauline Baker, president of the Fund for Peace, gave a generous certificate that India had greater social mobility and was more decentralised than its more populous neighbour. The true Indian in me immediately started singing the BAAP of all patriotic song ....yes the one-and-only-one Manoj Kumar starrer :

"O mere desh ki dharti ublhe sona, ublhe heere-mothi,
O mere desh ki dharteeeee..............................................."

Just when I had reached the patriotic momentum with the high-pitched EEs suddenly with a EEEEK my song came to a screecthing halt. Another news at the bottom of the screen reflected that India is the home for more than half of the world's under-nourished children.Yes we know that last time President Clinton had visited India both the nation had signed a secret deal.Since the North American landmass was tilting under the weight of its obese population we decided to maintain Earth's center of gravity at the center of the Earth India would balance the weight.There was a very fierce competition from the famine striken and war torn African nations who were also trying to do the same favour to their European counterparts.But at the end it was we the Indian's who were responsible for the Earth to still rotate at 23 degree axis.Of course our friendly neighbourhood Pakistanis and Bangladeshis did add to this 73 million figure but by far India remains to be the biggest contributer to the list.So puff goes my balloon of national pride and I sit at my desk with my head hanging down.

And then I realised that there is not one but two Indias that run parallely in the nation's lifestream.

In one India a business development manager courtiously advises his American clients "Since this is your first day in India I would suggest you rather avoid the currys ". And then with his homework done he suggests "If you like Italian there is a nice little resturant down the lane". The client thinks "Hmmm...thatz cool...but when do I get the free elephant ride".
And thus a successful million dollar outsourcing deal is signed.

In the other India transactions also happen with lunch suggestions. Look at those two gentlemen with one assuring the other "Don't worry whereever I am taking her,they will treat her like a queen".After a few moments of hesitation the father lets go off his daughter's hand and clinches onto the sack of rice.One smooth transaction and a girl is sold at the cost of a sack of rice.

In one India at 2:00 am in morning a call center executive putting on his best American accent is trying to help a frustated user in US : "Yes Ms. Thickhead next time you need to shut down the computer don't switch off the plug.I know it's a bit of irony but you need to press the start button to shut down.That way you wouldn't loose your data....Ok I will put a ticket to the design team suggesting a button name change in the next release.Is there anything else I can help you.Have a good day.Byee"

In another India at 2:00 am in the morning a farmer takes a last long look at his sleeping wife and children before turning to the hanging noose that awaits for him. After all this is the only way he can escape the sharp teeth of the money lending sharks.Too bad he doesn't have a helpline to call.And even if he had the nearest phone booth is 30 miles away.

In one India in the tinsel town of Mumbai inside a sound-proof studio the upcoming female model bares it all in the couch test.The next hour the progressive film-maker chats with his journo freind over a glass of beer "Aare dada ...she's the rawest talent I have ever seen.Just the kind of woman I wanted to potray in my historical Jhansi Ki Raani.Wait for the movie to complete and then you will realise that I got an eye for jewels".Journo friend makes a mental note to pass on this masala to Page 3 editor.

In another India not so far away city of Pune a 13 year Bulu from West Bengal is re-christianed as Chameli and is thrown to the highest bidder for her virginity. An hour later she's one more face in the crowds of Budhwarpet.If she's very lucky enough she might escape AIDS.

In one India the newspapers is carrying a photograph of the genius Indian-American boy collecting the first prize in the spelling bee competetion for correctly spelling the longest word in English dictionary "floccinaucinihilipilification" without the slightest hesitation.

In another India inside a shady joint in the coastal sea-beaches the visitng foreign tourist asks the manager to spell out the name of the boy he had chosen. After all calling the victim by the first name adds a new thrill to the pedophelic lust.

The list is endless,but with each battling contrasts of the two faces of India the dialectics between these two grows more acute than ever. So long these two shades of the fabric otherwise known as the Great Indian Society had been running parallel to each other. But what happens if they intersect ? What will they find when they look into each-others eyes ? Compassion or hatred ? Will they embrace in a brother hug or crush one-another to death ? Will India's growing population of the urban rich manage to pull up the rural down-trodden ? Will the poverty striken rural Indian crowd drag down their urban counterparts to darkness ? Most importantly will this duel take place in our times , in our share of history ? More and more questions keep on piling in the space that divides the two Indias.

The Zen Master told his pupil "The ten thousand questions are one question. If you cut through the one question, then the ten thousand questions disappear ". I am still searching for the ONE QUESTION.

Anyone got the answer ?

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