The icon of India’s educated class, Narayan Murthy finds himself in a less than desirable controversy this week, regarding the National Anthem. And aapla Sachin, having cut the tricolour cake, isn’t having it and eating it too (for a change….think dismal performance+endorsements…but let’s not get started on another issue altogether).
Are we over-sensitive about our National symbols? Yes, perhaps we are. But consider, are we a proud country? Do we take pride in our nationalism, in our being Indian? I’d say not. A lot of people I know think the father of the nation was an outdated, if not over-publicised figure. That’s a matter of perspective and M.K.Gandhi is not the only thing that one needs to be proud to be an Indian for. The fact that a citizen of this country can openly voice his (or her) disdain over the most public figure in the country…isn’t that something to feel proud of?
I don’t think we are a proud nation at all. We have our share of gargantuan problems, for sure. There’s corruption, there’s appaling economic disparity, poverty, casteism, communcal tensions..you name it. And yet, a woman has lead this country which is more than the most powerful country in the world can say. A country that may as well be two seperate countries on account of the diversity in North and South (and tensions resulting) is run from New Delhi by a South Indian President. And while on this, so much for the image of illiterate politicos and communal tensions, how’s it that we have a Muslim ex-scientist (and face of India’s nuclear strength) for President…a much beloved one at that at the helm of a largely Hindu country?
But I digress. To come back, I wonder sometimes, what is it that makes me Indian? I live a life paralleled by my counterparts in big cities across the world, I speak (and think in) a language foreign to this land, culturally, religiously, economically, lifestyle-wise, I’m more distanced from the people in the state neighboring mine than I am from those in a continent across.
The National Anthem and the flag don’t solve any problems this country has. They aren’t meant to. They are symbols….visible symbols of Brand India. People, large groups of people need symbols to steer their belief and to unite their thinking. A nation of people, especially one as vast and diverse as ours needs definite symbols to align us under one description…INDIAN.
Also a celebrity in any field, lives in the public eye and hence has a certain responsibility to the public. With fame and popularity comes the power to influence people’s thinking. Both the people in the thick of this issue are national icons, role models for the youth of the country. They are symbols in their own right. And consider, each of them, as a brand is closely associated with ‘Indianness’….Narayan Murthy as the ‘home-grown’ Indian who makes us proud on the international scene and Sachin Tendulkar, darling of the masses of a cricket-crazy country represents a billion Indians when he takes up the bat. Being Indian has done something for each of them, the brand that each of them is. Is it too much to expect them to stay aligned to the Brand India? I think not.