A nation like India represents a collective of diverse ideologies that have, over time blended together in quite a mesmerizing manner.
This is the India I have always believed in. Being a son of a retired Fauji does make it easier though, especially when he had this massive battle scar on his leg to a sport like a trophy of sorts. But he had moved into a different role with the Government just before I was born so I never really lived in a Fauji household but more in the aftermath of one. This new role of his did give me a closer insight into the life of an Indian diplomat as we spent a close to 4 years in Rome, Italy.
During holidays in India, I would get to see and experience a different world; my Mother’s side of the family. A family name of great significance in the eyes of the people of Tamil Nadu. My Grand Uncle (Mom’s Father’s younger brother) was someone everyone knew and revered, worshipped like a God, treated with the utmost respect. His name was M G Ramachandran (MGR).
To me, he was just the guy whose massive portrait hung in the central hall of our family home, this superhero who would beat up bad guys on screen but would somehow never kill them but make them apologize instead.
Summer breaks from boarding school were filled with stories of the man’s great achievements in Tamil Nadu. My grandfather, whom I was extremely close to had wanted his children to pursue regular careers. They were made to work to make their living and were in fact not even allowed to step into politics. My mother was married into a military household while her Sister married a Doctor in the forces which could have so easily been some big movie star, industrialist or politician. It was a choice. A conscious one.
Over time I began to understand and respect that choice. The story of my grandfather and his brother, the famous actor turned politician was of very humble beginnings – having to work their way through the emerging theatre and drama in Madurai to small roles in cinema and eventually breaking through and then one of them becoming a big star. While grandpa chose to pick up character roles or play a villain occasionally (which was hilarious because he couldn’t hurt a mouse), MGR became a demi-God. No. A God. Not to us but to many others.
But none of this meant that any of us cousins had it easy. We worked our way through school like most others. I went to a Christian convent and was the only Hindu singing in a church choir for 4 years. I then went to a school in Chennai that was deep-rooted in Indian culture and tradition. I got to learn shlokas and started to appreciate India and everything Indian a lot more. We worked through college and pursued careers successfully. I took up a career in advertising and marketing and created an alter avatar by the name Vin Sinners, an individual with a band ideology. I moved to Dubai in 2005.
Vin Sinners released its 1st album in 2011 and after a brief tour of India in 2013 became the first rock band in the Middle East to be signed to a major label – Universal. The 2nd album was released in 2014. Soon after, being the songwriter for the band, I started to write lyrics that were socially aware and engaging. But music was well…just music. A hobby.
I believe my big wake-up call with regards to India happened in 2004 after I saw a ‘dynast’ family ‘appoint’ a puppet to run the country while they worked their way around from the sidelines. I remember writing on my blog ‘A black day for democracy’. Social media was only just becoming a force of awareness. I had strongly believed that the country had made significant progress under the strong leadership of Shri AB Vajpayee and I could not fathom how the electorate had not seen that. There was obviously a lot more to it.
In the years to follow, I read more, saw more and watched more closely as a once-respected politician was reduced to being a robot on a remote, watched as a young woman was gang-raped in broad daylight, as terrorists attacked our country repeatedly and we did nothing about it, in spite of knowing who was responsible. All we got was a bit of lip service – if that! Then when Anna Hazare started the anti-corruption movement in 2011, I believed in it. I actually believed it would be the face of a change that India so desperately needed. But the moment I saw the political ploy that Arvind Kejriwal pulled, I knew it would die its own death.
And then there was Narendra Modi who was the longest-serving Chief Minister of Gujarat who was now the challenger. I tuned into several channels to see what people said about him and realized that mainstream media abhorred the man. But why did Gujarat repeatedly believe in him? Clearly, if any of the accusations made against him were true, the electorate would reject him. But they didn’t. They repeatedly put him in office for over twelve and a half years. He spoke with conviction, displayed a blueprint for a new India, an inclusive India that could and would not be bullied. He respected Indian traditions but also made himself aware of new age matters like technology, social media etc.
And he came from humble beginnings and worked his way to a position of leadership. No entitlement whatsoever. To me, that ticked all the right boxes.
In Modi’s first tenure, I’ve seen liberals pounce on every little thing done or undone in an attempt to foil his larger plans for the country. The problem with any electorate is that they expect immediate results. While much of the grass-root development that was actually taking place was ignored by the media, the people took note. The media and the opposition chose to take on a leader on the basis of corruption with the Rafale deal and with poor economic growth as an aftereffect of demonetization. They tried to tickle the electorate into thinking of the challenges that so many people felt in the wake of de-mo. But Modi’s strategy was to let time speak for itself. Today, India is the fastest-growing economy in the world and we all know how the ‘chowkidar chor hai’ campaign by Rahul Gandhi was an absolute and total flop show.
Most importantly, the respect that Narendra Modi has for our Armed Forces is something I personally feel tremendous gratitude for. Our men and women, serving on the frontlines, keeping extremist forces at bay are the ones who ensure that 1.3 billion Indians can sleep well at night. His focus on governance and efficiency within the Government is something many Indians have never seen.
Yes, there are still many issues that need to be resolved. Yes, there is still a lot of red tape and yes, there’s still corruption at many levels. But not for long. The gumption, resolve, commitment and dedication that Modi has been able to percolate down to each and every one of his Ministers and bureaucrats is infectious. Very infectious.
This, my friends, is NATION 2.0.