Ever since I came across it for the first time in my 9th standard Indian history textbook under the section, ‘The Partition of Bengal’, the word ‘swadeshi‘ continues to fascinate me till date. More than a century may have passed since it was coined; yet, I believe the word still hasn’t lost its relevance. Swadeshi means ‘of one’s own country’. It is easy to understand the relevance of this word during pre-independence days, but how is it relevant in today’s times?
I have often been taunted by my mother (all in good humour) for being an ‘angrez’ (foreigner) whenever there has been a difference of opinion with regards to selection of certain items of use. Most of our elders, grandparents in particular, often accuse us of being too heavily influenced by the western culture thereby loosing connection with our matrubhoomi; criticising us for all our choices — from the type of clothes we wear to the type of movies we watch and even to the kind of food we eat. For a generation brought up on a diet of ghar ki dal-roti, it is not easy for them to understand the nuances of the ‘Pizza generation.’
What is being ‘swadeshi’? Will switching from jeans and t-shirts to kurta-pyjamas make us more swadeshi; will shifting from burger to vada-pav add to our swadeshipan or will giving up head banging to the sounds of Metallica in favour of silent-peaceful sittings at ghazal nights contribute to the swadeshi component? Agreed that our generation is more versed with the works of Michael Jackson than with Kishore Kumar’s, yet I can claim it out loud that we are more swadeshi than our ‘respected’ khadi clad netas, who have hundreds of crores of rupees tied up in some Swiss bank locker.
Agreed that our generation is better acquainted with the life of Steve Jobs than with Lord Rama’s, yet I don’t have any reservations while declaring that we are more swadeshi than the bribe taking police officials who have been deployed with the job of maintaining law and order. Being swadeshi is not a tag that one should be wearing as an object of display; rather it is a feeling that should be engraved in the core of our hearts. It is the sense of existence which makes us rise on our feet at the sound of the national anthem.
As for us the pizza generation:
We might not exhibit our swadeshipan through our appearance, but one ill word about our country can give rise to the deadliest of rage among us. We might look for opportunities to settle abroad, but deep in our hearts, there always is a craving to have a bite of that roadside bhelpuri. Our worldly voices may at times accuse our country for its shortcomings, yet at the same time, our inner voices are constantly praying for the betterment of our nation. We do at times give way to mediocrity and resort to jugaad, yet when it comes to seeing the growth of our country, the sky is where we aim at.
We may be the SMS generation which believes in communicating less in person and more through the social media, yet we cherish the concept of joint family, a hallmark of our nation’s heritage.
Just because our English speaking ability is better than our abilities in Hindi doesn’t imply that we are ignorant to the historical significance of Sanskrit. “Do not judge a book by its cover,” is a famous English idiom. Take the pain of checking out the contents of the book before commenting on its quality. And to the people who think of us as apes of the western world — “Our likings may be influenced by the trends in the West, phir bhi dil hain Hindustani”.