By Aditya Mani:
I have always wondered how marketers and advertisers come up with taglines for products that relate not only to their customers but also carve a seat in eternity for themselves. It is a very interesting process, as I have come to learn and I set out on finding a suitable tagline for our country — India. Over the past few centuries, India has had visitors and travellers from all over the world and all of them have tried their hand in this very endeavour. Some of them have captured the beauty of its landscape, others have appreciated the cultural heritage and some have even rued the fact that the number of mobile phones far outnumbers the number of hygienic sanitation facilities. Some highlight the passion that millions of Indians share for either the game of cricket or for celluloid entertainment. Some call it a grossly uneducated society and some explicitly voice the growing concern in the western countries over India’s economic and technological growth.
After a limited stint on this land, I have zeroed in on a suitable appellation or a tag-line if you may, for this poly alias country (which according to many self assumed patriots should be called Bharat as opposed to its more western name India) — “India — tolerant to everything except its own insecurities”.
The Indian constitution and the Indian judicial system pride themselves on being strong proponents of the first part of this statement; which does hold true on most occasions. In a country where religion is more important than the basic necessities of life, we are pretty closely knit, riots and politics notwithstanding.
However, one knows that India is in a state of social turmoil when even the most trivial of matters irk the sensibilities of any one of the multitude of factions in India. Concepts such as freedom of expression and opinion are blatantly thrown out of the window in a pompous attempt to gain political/egotistical mileage. Case in point being the infamous extradition of the painter M. F. Hussain or the countless times that a film’s title had to be changed to accommodate an influential person’s ego in it. Even when Shahrukh Khan had proposed the inclusion of Pakistani players in IPL — 3, it was met only with contempt and condemnation. Delving further in to the tumultuous world of cricket, one can’t help but be sympathetic toward an erring player as he walks with a huge bull’s eye on his back. Even Sania Mirza hasn’t been able to distance herself from the discerning gaze of the Indian mentality as she keeps dodging bullets after bullets, be it for her on court attire, her remarks on premarital sex or her alliance with the Pakistani Cricketer Shoaib Malik.
Although India is accused of being grossly intolerant to the aforementioned issues and more (just ask South Indian actress Khushboo), it has been extremely benevolent and liberal with some other law breakers. Who would know this better than Ajmal Kasab or Afzal Guru? eh? While one is living the sweet life with over 8 lakh being spent on him daily, the other, it seems, is too busy for his own death row. And with all the money for their security coming from the tax-payers’ pockets, the only thing left for the Government to pamper them with is to tuck them in and sing them lullabies. Saddening as it may sound, this constitutes but only the tip of the iceberg, where tolerance of corruption, bureaucracy, communal riots, poverty, blind faiths, an apathetic education system bring up the rear. So, if there were ever an award instituted for tolerance, India would definitely be the frontrunner in the race.
I had heard some time ago, that “The highest result of education is tolerance.” If that is the case, India certainly topped the class.