August 14, 2011

The Article of Independence

For a civilization and a sub-continent, it's not quite clear what the specific import of 1947 is.

I do not know where to place the specific importance in the long history of India of the acts of the British when they creepingly occupied India first and then suddenly left when things became a bit too hot to handle.

Human lives however are measured on the scale of human lifespans. So it matters a lot to people whether the last 50 years have been productive or fruitless years in the story of India.

And the India story over the past half century has been famously a mixed bag.

India started its journey exactly like Nehru said: a great civilization awakened from long years of sleep.

It has mostly been drifting since then. India can't make any singular claims of achievement that it can be proud of as a signature feat of all of humanity.

People of India are mostly interested in trivialities -- such as religion and their petty family lives.

What of the future? More of the same.

August 08, 2011

The Story of India — Salil Tripathi

Here's the link:


Here's the complete text:


In the India in which I grew up, my father burned incense daily at the idol of Ganesha, the elephant-headed one who vanquishes evil, and my mother would keep the municipal water tap turned on at night, so that she would know when water would ‘arrive’ in our flat. Ganesha may or may not ward off evil, but the family needed water, and she would not leave anything to chance. The municipality ostensibly provided water 24 hours, but didn’t tell us that it meant 24 hours in a week, or sometimes, in a fortnight. If she kept the tap on, she would know the moment it would start to whisper and cough, and water would splutter, first as a trickle, then as a waterfall, and those sounds would wake her up, and she’d fill up the pots before others did, to make sure we’d have enough water.

This was when India was the poster child for aid agencies. More Indians probably knew about the US law PL 480, than most Americans: it sent surplus US wheat to India, thus preventing mass starvation. We weren’t badly off; we weren’t well off either. We had a home but no refrigerator, no car, no scooter and no telephone for a long time. We bought our first television some five years after my city had television.

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