Mera Bharat Mahan!

Last year, I’d taken my son to the U S of A just before Halloween and he was so impressed with that concept. And his cousin later called to tell him she has bags & bags of candy from Halloween that should last till Christmas and he felt so cheated.

“Amma, Can I dress up in a costume and get candy from people in Chennai?” He asked.

I was horrified. “No way! They’ll think it’s some new-age begging!” I said.

“Why???? Won’t people be kind enough to kids to give them candy?”

“It’s an American concept da.” I explained. “Not everyone will know the meaning of Halloween here.”

“You know what? ” He said, narrowing his eyes. “I hate being an Indian. Indian festivals are noisy & scary, they do not like giving candies to kids, the roads are so filthy, people around us are so rude to each other. And everything is so difficult here. Can we please, please go & live in America? People there are so kind to kids. It’s so much cleaner and everything is just awesome!”

I was horrified at his lack of patriotism.

“How dare you say that? ” I bellowed. “India is your home country. If you say you hate it, it’s like saying you hate your own mother. Do you get me?’

He was shocked at my outburst. “But Amma, I’m only telling you the truth!” he countered.

“Enough! Not one word from you”. I said and resumed driving, seething inside.

But then I calmed down after giving it a lot of thought.

Now whose fault is that children these days do not feel the tug of pride about their own country?

I can’t speak for all kids, but other kids like mine – have never heard of the freedom struggle. the Brits are just another source of toys to them. They get to taste life in other countries either by first hand experience on holidyas or by all the movies and serials they watch.

They have at least one aunt or uncle happily settled abroad.

Most of our cities have malls &  stores just like the one they see abroad.

When I was young, maybe because we were just one generation away from the freedom fighters, it was taken for granted that we were proud of our country and its achievements. We mugged up stories in school about Bhgath Singh, Kumaran, Gandhiji, Sardar Patel, so on & so forth.

Everyday at assembly we’d recite The Pledge.

Foreign countries were some far-off lands which we’d get a glimpse of only in Enid Blyton books or the occasional English movies one went to.

Almost all the movies in the theatres used to play the national anthem at the end and all of us stood ramrod straight to show our respect.

(My uncle used be furious if he ever caught me sitting down when they played the national anthem on tv!)

But today, with the world becoming a global village and all, there’s precious little we can do to make our kids patriotic.

My son hates Diwali because he’s terrified of crackers. He loves Christmas because he gets presents.

And new clothes & sweets are not exclusively for festivals anymore.

Now how do I inject patriotism into his mind?

Do I start by telling him stories of brave soldiers who laid their lives for our great nation’s independence?

Do I start educating him on our rich history and how we were miles ahead of any other country hundreds of years ago in every field?

Do I stand a chance getting his undivided attention while competing with the Ben 10s, Beyblades, Kick Buttoskis, PSPs of his world,  who hold him captive the second he gets home?

And when I see the news everyday about thousands of crores of rupees swindled in various scams by politicians, the sheer audacity of those in power, the cheap mind-games played, the vengence unleashed by some in power, and close to home the over-flowing garbage bins….

All make me feel I should just shut up and let him figure it out for himself.

Jaihind!

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3 Comments

  1. anushasrikanth said,

    March 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I totally understand the rage. This is the question I ask myself when we want our kids to grow the Indian way… we are always trying to define the Indian way. In the last few decades, in the name of globalisation and change, we have stopped thinking for a moment the things we do to embrace that change. Do the malls and cineplexes that adorn a colorful facade in anyway better the daily struggle of an Indian? This is something that requires serious thought. That thought which is seeded in most of our homes today has a long long way to go before it can bring any life altering change.

    So true…

  2. Vidya said,

    March 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Hamara Bharat mahaan! The only way to keep the elves from speaking the truth is to not show that progress and greater quality of life IS actually possible, but only outside our Home 😉

    hehe.. i shall try, but it’s going to be difficult! 🙂

  3. March 28, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    I think each generation is caught in dilemma situations. The youngest ones, also seem to have one now.
    Interesting. As you said’ let him figure ti out” seems to be the best option.

    ya, true…


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