Monday, November 22, 2010

The Hidden Pain of India

sāre jahāñ se acchā hindostāñ hamārā

ham bulbuleñ haiñ us kī vuh gulsitāñ hamārā

Better than the entire world, is our Hindustan [India],

We are its nightingales, and it (is) our garden abode

According to a legend, Mahatma Gandhi sung this stanza over hundred times to motivate himself when he was imprisoned at Yerawada Jail at Pune in 1930. Such was the effect of those sentences that powered the spirit of Indians to fight against the British. Written in 1904 by lesser known Urdu poet Mohammed Iqbal, the lines of his poem still continue to have a profound impact on the people of India. Content with first two sentences, not many Indians bother to read the complete poem written by poet. While the poem starts with over optimistic lines such as India being better than the entire world, eventually the poet finishes the poem with tragic end. The lines are cryptic and do not address the tragedy directly. The last stanza of the poem had a profound impact on me. Whenever, I read this poem, I wondered about the hidden pain of India referred in it. I shall not go in detail, but let me highlight the last three stanzas of the poem.

yūnān-o-miṣr-o-rumā sab miṭ gaʾe jahāñ se

ab tak magar hai bāqī nām-o-nishāñ hamārā

kuchh bāt hai kih hastī miṭtī nahīñ hamārī

sadiyoñ rahā hai dushman daur-e zamāñ hamārā

iqbāl! koʾī maḥram apnā nahīñ jahāñ meñ

maʿlūm kyā kisī ko dard-e nihāñ hamārā!

Ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome have all vanished from the world

Our own attributes (name and sign) live on today

Such is our existence that it cannot be erased

Even though, for centuries, the cycle of time has been our enemy.

Iqbal! We (Indians) have no confidant in this world

What does anyone know of our hidden pain?

Being born in India can be the greatest gift or the worst curse, depending on how you are going to spend life. Walking through the streets and markets, there were times when one feels lost in the crowd. Sometimes, when so many people around, it is easy to misinterpret life and lose track of where you are heading. Just like every other country, in India, its culture has its positive and negative effects. Unfortunately, in recent times, the Indian society has picked up more negative effects than positive. The acute lack of development and self-confidence has transformed the society into a self-destructing monster. Majority of the people in India prefer to remain backward, unclean and cultureless. They see developing with time as burden and feel it as a threat to their so called ‘culture’. The sheer magnitude of resistance from people towards understanding change and taking responsibility has continuously pushed the country towards poverty and sickness.

Ask an Indian about community service, 9 out of 10 would not even know what it actually means. Here’s an interesting example, most Indians treat ‘India’ equivalent to their ‘mother’ and yet, India would easy top the list of world’s dirtiest nations. The sheer indiscipline among people and lack of true respect towards the nation is the cause for uncleanliness in the country. It won’t take more than few minutes to understand that, Indians are as hypocrites as one can get. Most of them won’t do anything close to what they preach (that includes me too).

So, is that the hidden pain that poet was referring? I don’t know.

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