Independence? From what exactly?

As I sit here typing this blogpost on the eve of my country’s seventieth Independence Day, my brain is being raped by the deafening traffic outside. It has been many years since I have had a full night’s sleep. The traffic is relentless. The pack of stray dogs in my street barks all night long. The students next door have drunken parties every night. Night after night, the noise of construction gets worse and worse. The administration, as always, doesn’t give a shit.

In my country, stray dogs roam free, to bite, maim and kill tax-paying citizens like myself. If I protest, I get intimidated and beaten up by animal activists. That’s because rabid dogs are protected by law. Their human victims are not.

In my country, a husband commits suicide every nine minutes. I’m one of those rare husbands who didn’t. If I protest, I get thrashed and then thrown into jail by Feminazis. That’s because women have laws to protect them. Men have none. None whatsoever.

In my country, I cannot decide what to eat. Someone else does that. In my country,  I cannot decide which God to worship, or which God I do not want to worship. Someone else does that. I cannot decide what I want to see on my TV. Someone else does that.

In my country, I cannot speak my own mother tongue. Because someone else wants to shove his language down my throat.

I cannot provide the education I think fit for my children. Because that education is reserved for someone else. I cannot get the jobs I want for my children. Those jobs are reserved for someone else.

In my country, less than 2 in 100 taxable citizens pay income tax.  I pay income tax for ninety eight other Indians who perhaps make more money than I do.

I cannot walk on the pavements. Because thugs on two-wheelers drive on them, in full view of the police. I cannot visit the few parks that still survive in my city, because there are too many garbage dumps in the way. And because crossing the street outside my home might get me killed.

In my country, more people are killed by vehicles than by terrorists and natural disasters put together.

We have the fastest growing economy in the world, boast our politicians. We also have the fastest growing population in the world. We also have the highest number of stray dogs per capita. And consequently, we have the highest number of deaths due to dog-bites. We also have the highest number of pedestrian deaths in the world. If I question those who drive on pavements and those who fling their garbage on the streets, I get beaten up and told that this is an independent country.

This, to most of my fellow Indians, is what Independence means. The right to abuse. The right to ogle. The right to throw refuse on the streets. The right to urinate in public.

Godmen in saffron robes sing praises about our ancient country’s hoary past, our glorious culture, our “sprirituality”. Their ashrams are dens of debauchery, their coffers are filled with black money, their beds are warmed by highly paid whores.

Seventy years after foreign rulers left our soil, we still go back to them for money to fund our development. Seven decades after independence, emigrating to the West is still considered the greatest achievement. Seventy years since we became a free country, owning the passport of another land is still the ultimate symbol of success.

Seventy years of self-rule, and I am still called a “Madrasi”.  Still abused as a “bomman”.

I am a loser you see. I chose to own an Indian passport. My former daughter dumped me for a rich old fart, because I refused to leave my parents and my motherland. What a fucking loser you are, her mother said to me in the divorce court – before joining her elderly lover in Canada.

We do have the biggest and the best Constitution in the world. I know, I read it. But yet …

As a husband I have no laws to protect me from my vicious wife. As a father, I have no rights to see my child. As a man, I have no legal defense against any woman who chooses to destroy my life. As a pedestrian, I have no legal means to protect myself from rabid dogs and drunken drivers alike. And as a Brahmin, I have no rights of any kind.

The foreign rulers have left, but we are still enslaved. By intolerance. By casteism. By religion. By over-population. By language. By the sheer weight of garbage on our streets. And worst of all, by corruption.

Ecologists across the nation have repeatedly warned that the country is racing towards ecological disaster. But the politicians continue to chop down trees, pollute our lakes and burn down our forests.

Where else in the world can one see a lake filled with stinking foam? Where else can one see a foaming lake literally on fire?

India is still one of the poorest nations on earth. One of the most corrupt nations in the world. One of the most unsafe countries for women.

In my country, a 1000 sq ft apartment costs more than a 2000 sq ft bungalow in the USA. Yet, a maid in that country earns more than I do.

Are you not proud to be an Indian, thundered my friend – who left India twenty years ago. I wonder how to respond.

The right question is not whether I love my country. Of course I do. Otherwise I would have left many years ago, when I had the opportunity.

The right question is – does my country love me?

I guess not.

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