The credibility and incredibility of India
29 May 2011
‘Incredible India’ is the tagline or theme of India’s drive to attract tourism. It is a tag that has multiple uses of course. It is a call for pride in nation. It is also made for jingoistic hurrahs. What is ‘incredible’ though and what is incredible (or credible) about India, I wondered.
The word is derived from ‘credible’, i.e. ‘capable of being believed’ or ‘plausible’. It refers to things that are worthy of confidence; things that are reliable. Incredible, being the antonym, means ‘so implausible as to elicit disbelief’ or ‘astonishing’. I think the impression that India is trying to create is that it is an out-of-this-world kind of nation and experience and therefore, the most alluring tourist destination for those want to see and experience something that’s sorely missing in their respective worlds.
I am sure that a country as vast as India is naturally endowed with many treasures that people from different parts of the world would never have seen and as such would be duly amazed by. It is a country that has a history, has diversity of people, language, culture, literature, music and religious beliefs and attendant customs and rituals, all of which are of the ‘out of the world’ kind as far as the random visitor is concerned. There are other things ‘incredible’ about India.
India is essentially a product of a gelling that occurred consequent to invasion and withdrawal by the invader. It is incredible that it has not broken into its consequent parts, therefore, especially considering there are 123 secessionist movements. Peasant insurgency is on the rise and various groups are now active in 220 districts in 20 states, covering almost 40% of the country’s geographical area. The Centre does not talk about such things, but deals with these issues in ways as brutal as those practised in Kashmir.
It is incredible that India, in the name of democracy, has killed or tortured over 250,000 Sikhs over the past 14 years.
It is incredible that India, even while lobbying to obtain permanent membership in a restructured UN Security Council, strutting around as a ‘First World’ aspirant with a healthy growth rate and endowed with nuclear capabilities, is saddled with close to 450 million people who are illiterate (37% of the population), with more than a quarter of the people living in abject poverty. Under 5 mortality stands at close to 70 per 1,000 live births.
It is incredible also that India, with so many skeletons in its cupboard thinks fit to fish for non-existent skeletons in other people’s cupboards. India, endowed with traditional knowledge on a vast range of subjects including medicine, and indeed having acquired the latest knowledge and technology in the matter of treating illnesses, seems so reluctant to take the medicine it prescribes for others, Sri Lanka for example.
It is incredible that India wants Sri Lanka to investigate alleged human rights abuses while happily disregarding all protocols pertaining to dealing with dissent (including protests and violence) and in treating detained suspects.
Can Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, S.M. Krishna, Shivshankar Menon, Nirupama Rao et al honestly say they are not being two-tongued when it comes to Sri Lanka? Are they not tongue-tied in Geneva on the moves to destabilise Sri Lanka and turn back the achievements with respect to separatism and terrorism, because they are worried about regime change back home after the key ally of the Congress Party got booted by Jayalalithaa?
Isn’t it true they have to make sure that the lady is kept happy by pandering to the anti-Sri Lankan mafia, cajoled, hoodwinked and/or purchased by the riffraff rump of the LTTE, a dreaded terrorist group which by the way India armed, trained and funded? Or is it because India wants to be on the good books of the USA, UK and the EU in light of Security Council aspirations?
India is an incredible country for many reasons. It is pretty pedestrian too, as countries go, when it comes to double standards, double-speak, pointing fingers at the mote in someone else’s eye while doing nothing about the beam that blocks its political vision.
India must do what’s best in India’s interest. If India wants to remain a thug in the eyes of Sri Lanka and other countries in the region and doesn’t really care for their opinion, that’s fine. The problem is that while such a course of action would serve the Congress Party and its corrupt and self-serving politicians, it will not automatically yield nation-resolve in that country. The 123 secessionist struggles will not end. The peasants will not stop revolting. Poverty will continue to scar opulence, and roadsides will remain as lavatories even as visitors marvel at all the other ‘incredible’ things that are part and parcel of ‘India’.
In credible Sri Lanka, we will continue to cheer Sachin Tendulkar and be sad the day he hangs up his cricketing gear, be amused by Sonia Gandhi’s ignorance and S.M. Krishna’s arrogance, be amazed at India’s ‘friendship’ claims, and we will suffer the consequences that those who have integrity and self-respect must undergo when faced with storms beyond their strength. I am certain we will not panic as a nation, for we know that time is longer than life and a nation that was self-made and not pieced together by an invader does not have to deal with the burden of self-doubt.
The serendipitous don’t shout. They live. For centuries. They don’t have to claim incredibility. That’s for the arrogant and arrogance, ladies and gentlemen is typical of the ignorant, the inferior and those lacking in substance.