Editorial & Analyses

    My Realisation of Real Bharat

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    Shammi Duggal
    July5/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    This created a cultural dissonance within me as I struggled to reconcile my Indian heritage with the allure of Western ideals.

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    By Shammi Duggal

    Born in 1975 to a middle-class family in Punjab, I grew up in an environment that aspired to everything Western. We attended English medium schools, spoke in English, read English classics, and surrounded ourselves with English clubs and crockery.

    As a child, I distinctly remember looking up at my family members who lived in the West. Shows like The Lucy Show and Different Strokes, as well as the Grammys, Michael Jackson, and Madonna, were our role models. The glamour of the American lifestyle, where the middle class was empowered to be assertive, free, and expressive, was intoxicating.

    Back home, Indian-ness seemed very confusing. There was a Pundit on DD's Discovery of India, holding a rose and speaking in a very British manner about his passion for India. Then there was a lot of talk about so-called “the father of the nation'', portraying a weak and feeble personality, with a stick in his hand, preaching "If an enemy strikes your left cheek, offer him your right."

    The child in me rejected the idea of a weak father. Yet the sense of duty and the lack of courage and clarity kept me confused for a very long time. Why did an English speaking, very British seeming lover of Lady Mountbatten become the Prime Minister and earned the power, luxury and the respect that comes with it? And why did the father get only a dhoti and a stick? A man who did not look after his own children and wife was made the father of the most ancient civilization. These questions kept haunting me.

    I rejected this idea of a father deep inside me. Glued to Enid Blyton then moving to Nancy Drew and graduating to Ayn Rand. While physically I was in India my head and heart could never find anything common between what I wanted to stand for or what came naturally to me to admire and gravitate towards and what I found in India.

    It's often said that children have an innate sense for truth within their families. Even when adults withhold it, the atmosphere, unspoken tensions, visible ironies, and unacknowledged issues are palpable and understood, communicated not through words but through an unspoken language of emotions and perceptions. As a child of Mother India I realised soon in our society hypocrisy and double standard is prevailing. And while at that stage I wasn’t dedicated to exploring truth as I devoted myself to my career and studies. But the nagging feeling that all is not right never left me.

    As a young management executive I saw a lot of growth working for US companies while living in Delhi. The Lutyen media outlets were my source of truth to understand the world around me. The political scene was fraught with corruption and instability with scams and riots and terrorist attacks rampant. Modi and Shah were the villains destroying the Ganga-Yamuna tehzeeb of India. Teesta Setalvad was the tormented woman lawyer who was the messiah of human rights representing the fight against everything wrong in India.

    Yet, nothing seemed to fit into its place. Modi and Shah the villains managed to bring so much development to Gujarat. The BIMARU states were home to the most corrupt governments with the self-proclaimed secular parties engaged in never ending greed of cleaning out the state coffers. The Congress at the centre under the leadership of a mute but extremely cunning leadership seemed so deceitful.

    Brain drain and exodus of the best and the brightest was extremely high. I graduated from Engineering in 1997. Not even 10% of my batch mates were in India within a span of 10 years of passing out. The United States, Europe, Australia or Canada were the chosen destinations. People like me who ended up staying because of a variety of other reasons were increasingly feeling defeated by having made the choice to stay back. As I said nothing seemed to fit. The hypocrisy and the lies I had always sensed in the ecosystem continue to pervade more and more and made me so ill at ease with the country and place and culture I called home.

    I distinctly remember the first video of a freelance right wing journalist I watched. I can never forget that moment. The year was 2014 and I was riveted. The next couple of hours I searched every possible talk of his and heard each one of them. I have never been the same since. It finally all made sense.

    And this is what I realised. The idea of India that was propagated by so called liberals and secularists was a lie. The strategy was simple. The best way to destroy a civilization is to teach them to be ashamed of themselves. Write history such that none of their own are made to look like heroes. Instil a deep sense of inferiority and a sense of defeatism where anyone who still has any brains left chooses to run away. The ones that are left behind continue to live in a slavery mindset which was a second habit as that is what they had known from 200 years of colonization and a sense of inertia and ennui pervaded.

    It was liberating to finally accept my discomfort with viewing a politician as the father of our great nation. I felt an immense relief unburdening myself of a figure who, in my eyes, embodied weakness and made me feel ashamed of my heritage. I rejected a father who instilled self-pity and instead embraced the legacy of Subhash Chandra Bose and Veer Savarkar. These were the true heroes who taught me to stand up for myself and fight for what is rightfully mine.

    While we believe India gained independence in 1947, it never truly did. The transfer of power in 1947 by the British to their stooges, was merely a facade. One family who mostly produced deeply troubled and unhappy narcissistic leaders, saw it as their birthright to rule over India. They treated the country like their personal backyard, running it autocratically.

    Finally, the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that no adult ever helped me with as a child, that no media in print or TV ever honestly and factually helped me put together, had finally been assembled for me by an independent retired freelance journalist.

    Once the cloud of gas lighting lifted, I found the real heroes and made peace with my roots and my motherland, India. The voices of Veer Savarkar, Shivaji, Sardar Patel, Subhash Chandra Bose , and the cries of millions subjected to emergency rule resonated with me. The ghosts of millions of Indians massacred in the name of secularism and tolerance, the deceit behind it, the racism, the divide-and-rule strategy, and the systemic impoverishment brought the light of clarity and with it came back the confidence and pride that was always mine to have been born in such a rich and old civilization, but was denied to me.

    In my mind, India became truly independent when Article 370 was removed. That was the moment when India, or Bharat, felt independent. I felt a sense of pride and belonging, realizing this was my nation.

    Life, however, had different plans for me. Just as I felt closer to my roots and proud of where I came from, I happened to move to Sydney. Once you have felt Bharat in your blood you always remain Bharatiya. I can leave India but India can never leave me now. The essence of being truly Bharitya is also the essence of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,' which means 'world is one family. ' This very notion of considering the world as one family, also instilled in me with the sense of responsibility of 'One Earth'. And as I live in Australia which is my Karma-Bhumi I continue to draw my essence from my Janm-Bhoomi Bharat.

    (Author has worked at senior positions with renowned corporate houses and writes about nationalism and the right wing in India. Currently lives in Sydney, Australia)