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I have been thinking about whether we have one country, or does it have images of itself in other dimensions ... socially speaking, we seem to be divided into four Indias. There is the India that we think India is ... an emerging superpower, a culturally rich country that inspires and attracts citizens from all over the world to it; then we have the India of the politicians and the rich class of citizens: they care a hoot for what the poor and the middle class are up to; they dress in Giorgio Armani, carry Louis Vuitton bags, spray themselves with Chanel 5, eat at 5-star restaurants and indulge in corruption and hoarding of money to such an extent that they consider themselves immune to any punishments or accountability; the third India we have is the one seen through the eyes of the poor: an India filled with opportunities for earning a decent livelihood, an India where one can be as educated, as literate, as learned as one wants to be, an India where there are heroes born daily - heroes who save others, heroes who salvage the environment, heroes who fight for the rights of women and children, and so on. Finally, we have the India of media. If one watches Indian news channels from sunrise to moonrise for just one portion of one day, one may be forgiven for believing that nothing good ever happens, or will ever happen in this "rotten country". Ad nauseum they seem to go on about how this minister did this, and that bureaucrat did that. And, it's not just news reporting. They keep on showing the same clips over and over again, and the voice-over of the reporter is not the sane reporting of a seasoned journalist, but a sort of diatribe, a sort of shouting, if you will, and trying to badger anyone who has a view opposite to their own views. Which India are you a part of? Do share your comments in the area provided at the bottom of this entry.
India has been in the news, and for a lot of wrong reasons in the past few months. However, this month, it was in the news for reasons that involved two of its old adversaries. Pakistan and China. In a jail at Kot Lakhpat in Lahore, an Indian prisoner on death row, Sarabjit Singh, was grievously wounded in a dastardly attack by fellow prisoners with the connivance of jail authorities. Fighting for his life in the Jinnah hospital at Lahore, he finally succumbed to his injuries 2 days ago. The political brouhaha that has ensued as a result of what is seen (in India) to be the failure of the Pakistani state and the perceived connivance of the government of Pakistan in what is considered to be a revenge killing for the death sentencing of Afzal Guru in India ... has to be heard and seen to be believed. While Pakistan has been vocal in dismissing these perceptions and apprehensions of the Indian people, and calls the death "an act of violence abetted by jail officials" and the fight between Sarabjit and his attackers a "scuffle", India has been stating repeatedly that the government is involved. The most vocal critic of the whole incident has been Sarabjit's sister, who has left no stone unturned in her attempts to criticise both the Pakistani and the Indian government for acts of negligence, callousness, political brinkmanship and utter disregard for the human angle to the whole affair. I salute her for her very cogent thinking and her bravery in calling a spade a spade - even while she was on Pakistani soil. I pray for her and her family and wish them well. I don't know if Sarabjit was a culprit or not, but may Allah rest his soul in peace. In another incident. China intruded into Indian space in Ladakh and has now set up a camp and is developing nearly 30 sq. km. of the territory. Indian attempts to coax them to leave have been in vain, and they insist that the space they are occupying is not Indian territory but belongs to them. Salman Khurshid, the Minister of External Affairs is in a bind as India dare not "ruffle" the feathers of China, a military and economic behemoth in its own right. The third thing I wish to discuss is the repeated incidents of rape that are happening in India. Children and adults alike are the victims of rape violence. And it is not just about Delhi or the NCR ... it is happening across all states and in all sections of the society, including the rich, the famous, the privileged, the intellectual class and the educated. I hang my head in shame. Are Indians never going to learn to respect women? In spite of stringent laws and so much media publicity, there seems to be no end in sight for the women and children who are at the receiving end of rape violence. Finally scams are tumbling out of the Congress closet almost every day. The coal scam is worth thousands of crores. Now, in a fresh incident, the Railway Minister is involved in a bribe-scam for appointment of an individual to the Railway Board. Will India ever rise from the depths it has plummeted to? I invite comments from my readers.