INDIANISM…70 years and counting
Hi, my name is Aarya Babbar. Today, but almost a decade ago, it was not Aarya, rather it was Sajjad Babbar. Sajjad, being my late nana’s name, was quite a pride for me. Why? Well first of all because Mr Sajjad Zaheer was a radical revolutionary, a Marxist who fought for our Independence, a strong member of the progressive writers’ movement and what not. Being a boy you are always a tad more attached to your mom. So having my mom’s dad’s name always felt nice, that’s a different point that my dad’s fathers name was Kushal and I obviously wouldn’t have been able to enjoy my school years with the name Kushal Babbar (no offence dadaji!)
Coming to the name transformation moment, now please read carefully as you may get lot of trivia in the upcoming para:
I had just turned 18 or so, Sajjad still well imprinted in my passport… I get an offer for a film from one of India’s leading movie critic, Khalid Mohammed. He wishes to remake, or as our Bollywoodindustry people say, “inspired movie” from To Kill a Mockingbird offering me the main victim’s role and the lawyer who would fight my case would be none other than Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. Wow! Like seriously…Wow! Now imagine the state of an 18-year old guy – imagine yourself in those shoes – you would have to be a little cuckoo in the head to say no to this project. So obviously I argued with my family and everyone around that I want to do this! Everyone agreed it was a great project but maintained that I was too young to be making my debut. Nevertheless the meetings started with Mr Mohammed and after a few meets, he suggested my parents that perhaps Sajjad Babbar is not the right name to make a Bollywood debut with, there’ll be so much confusion around him – is he a Muslim…Is he a Punjabi…Is he a Hindu? You all should probably think of getting the name changed.” My parents, like any set of protective parents, who wish to give a secure future to their child, took the advice of such an ‘intelligent critic’ and changed my name to Aarya.
Even today, I don’t understand why that happened. Not that I dislike Aarya, I am humbled by what this name has given me but Sajjad Babbar – for me this was just not a name, it was the ideology that my country India breathes with, ‘Unity in Diversity.’ How would it matter if my name Sajjad Babbar suggested I was a Muslim…A Hindu…A Punjabi? Sajjad Babbar declared strongly that before anything I’m an Indian and a proud one at that! In my country you may be a Sikh, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Christian, a Gujarati, an Assamese, a Manipuri, a South Indian – doesn’t matter – because at the end of the day we all salute the tricolour together! Whenever, wherever we are if we hear the national anthem we stand up, respectfully and we feel pride in it! Pride in being an Indian! At the time of Eid at Mohammed Ali road no one is asked if they are Muslim and only then served sheer-korma. In a Gurudwara, at the time of langar, no ID is needed to prove you are a Sikh, no Church has ever stopped the entry of non-Christians, at Vaishno Devi all are embraced with the same humility when they walk up the hill to the Goddess!
This is my Secular Free India but more than a century back it was not free.
1857 to 15th august 1947 – 80 years! It took of struggle, blood, sweat, humiliation, violence and non-violence for India to call itself a free secular nation.
Still, as we approach our 70th Independence Day, we casually take it as just another Bank Holiday. Why?
Do you realise over the years the date, 15th Aug has actually become one of those Red Alert days in our country. Why?
Every Indian, consciously or unconsciously, fears going out at crowded places like a mall, amusement parks, movie halls etc. on this day. Why?
Why, on the day when we should actually celebrate freedom, we fear it?
Why is it that in the capital of our country, women feel scared to even go out after 8 pm?
Why is voting still done on caste preference?
Why is it that despite living in a free country we no longer have freedom of speech?
There are many issues which make me angry. I’m sure there are many more issues which would make you angry, but anger, sadly, is not the solution or else The Hulk would have been the happiest man.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t wish to talk about what my country has not achieved in these 70 years of Independence because I believe that given infrastructure and the corruption that my country has survived and is surviving, it has achieved a lot! I just wish to talk or speak about what I don’t like about us – you and me. First is our complexes and our insecurities when it comes to our country. We just want to look at the West and be all envious but it’s the same mentality as looking at our neighbour and being jealous of the fact that he has a bigger TV set than ours. We often crib that the West has better roads, it’s cleaner, and wish India was like that. We count our problems…Population…Pollution… Corruption! And this cribbing starts as a child – right from school years, when if the teacher catches the child speaking Hindi (just a reminder it’s our national language) in the corridors of the school, the child will be punished, thus what gets instilled in the mind of the child? Speaking Hindi is a wrong habit, speaking English is a good habit! This child, when he grows to be a teenager, and if in his group there is a boy or girl who doesn’t speak good English are made fun of, cracked jokes on. “Waah…maine toh aaj tak London ke kissi school mein kissi bache ko angrezi ke ilawa koi aur bhasha ka istemaal karte hue nahi suna!”
A dying language is the sign of a dying community, a dying community is the sign of a dying culture, and a dead culture will give birth to the death of a country.
Like you, even I don’t have a solution. I don’t have a solution to these issues which is increasing every single day, trying to decay our country’s growth.
But at least I know what is wrong – wrong is not my country…wrong is us. We have to get rid of this habit of saying, ‘Chuck it…it doesn’t concern me!’ Perhaps you are right it doesn’t concern and affect us today but it shall tomorrow and that day it’ll come and bite us hard!
So for that sake let’s try starting a movement today. Let’s start “Indianism” where we don’t throw garbage on the roads, where we don’t break signals when the police guy isn’t looking, where we buy mostly brands which are Indian, where we promote what is ours. Let’s go for summer vacations in our country rather than wasting thousands of dollars abroad, let’s try educating ourselves about our politicians – who are they…What is their educational background…Why should we vote for them…Have they done any work in there last constituency…What is the economical standing of our country right now in the world? If we wish to do road processions let’s not do it with noise pollution, no God demanded to be drowned or to pollute the air or hurt someone’s eyes or kill an animal for their happiness!
I’ve spoken a lot but not spoken enough. There are so many things I wish to say, you wish to say and perhaps everything that I’ve said is something we all already know about and talk about but are not waking up to it. We are laying back in our recliners and complaining about Congress, about BJP, about AAM Aadmi party – let’s not stop the complaining, it is good, complain even more! It shows you are a conscious alive breathing Indian who wishes to bring about a change but don’t be that Indian who calls Kejriwal a messiah today then votes for him, makes him the CM, then calls him a fraud and in the next elections again appoints him the CM to again call him a fraud! Cause then, my friend, the fraud is not a Kejriwal, a Rahul, a Modi, the fraud is you, me, the fraud is us!
Let’s consciously, this 15th August 2016, WAKE UP INDIA.
Let’s consciously, this 15th August 2016, WAKE UP THE INDIAN IN US.
Let’s consciously, this 15th August 2016, WAKE UP with INDIANISM in our hearts!