My Winning Essay: “Flash Truths – Taking India’s Pulse” 2021

I have won the 2nd Prize in the 2021 nano-Essay Competition, “Flash Truths – Taking India’s Pulse”, organized by DownloadingMyMind (DMM) in association with the Society for Public Studies(SPS). Eminent Judges selected the winners. I appreciate the endeavor to use short pieces of writing to get a sense of how we feel about our country and what we might do. Here’s what I wrote:

Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota…

“Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota…” This was among my favourite dialogues as a child. Every time I saw a blemish on my picture perfect country, I wiped it away with these lines. I stood diligently during the anthem and felt pride when India won a cricket match. I was the quintessential patriot. But my patriotism never became a breeding ground for hatred.

This had a lot to do with my identities. As an economically privileged Hindu Savarna boy, Indians had always been kind to me. But when the scope of my interactions widened, patriotism and humanity came under conflict.

I saw that as people moved away from the identities I shared, it became increasingly difficult for them to live in this country. Incidents of class and caste discrimination, islamophobia, and sexual harrassment curbed my patriotism. I was still optimistic. When I saw a movie which addressed such an issue, I felt proud again. “Done,” I thought. “People shall start behaving differently from tomorrow.” But that wasn’t everyone’s narrative.

The acts I perceived as injustices, were justified for some and habitual for others. To my horror, I found that this imagined community houses a vengeance. People feel they have been bullied for too long and now it’s their turn. In their actions and words, people chose patriotism over humanity.

I have ignored this choice for myself. But today’s political climate gives me the perfect opportunity. And I choose humanity. There is good in this country — and in each individual. But the blemishes hiding it are too many for me to wipe. Happy Independence Day India! You’re free from my love. For even though I’m a beneficiary, I would rather not celebrate a mother who feeds unequal portions to her children.