Ruminations on the years gone by

“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones” : William Shakespeare.

A fictional piece intended to raise raw emotions in a mob inclined on forgetting the treachery enacted in the corridors of power of Rome. Like everything written by Shakespeare, you can interpret these exhibits of superhuman wizardry over words to suit you needs. I too indulged in the same. There are moments in our life that make us inexplicably happy, makes us want to scream in joy loud enough to snap our vocal chords so that those joyous screams get mortalized as the last sound vibe emanating from out mundane existence.

As i enact those moments in my conscious and sub conscious minds, i cannot fail to appreciate the single thread that binds those moments together is the element of surprise. There is no such thing as a pleasant surprise.

The earliest such surprise that my Alzheimer free brain can think of dates back to the early nineties- 1994 to be precise- I was in class three. Had not achieved much till then. was a mediocre at school who somehow managed to get a double promotion. Was the opposite of being an athlete. My only claim to fame probably was that I was the cutest person in the co-ed school. We had a 10 minutes break after two classes. My cheeks used to ache after that. In fact one of my teacher remarked that i am only fair guy in my class much to the displeasure of a few of my classmates. So coming to the pleasant surprise. I was asked by one of our neighbours to go and watch a quiz competition. The quiz was open to students up to class 8. So, I went. I thing led to another and I found myself participating in a team with another guy from class five. The quiz was a written one. So, the results were not declared immediately. Guess what we were third by getting five out of 30 questions right :D. The winner had around 20 questions right. But boy my joy knew no bounds !!!That certificate remains the most wrinkled piece of paper I still treasure. I got many a certificates after that but that one remains special.

Next surprise fast forwards my life to 2002. I was in Assam then- upper Assam. I just heard of IIT a year back and wanted to get in. But nobody I knew any of the interiors of any of the IITs. I had a row with my best friend that year. So, had spent the better part of the year trying to find out how to get into IIT. For a reality check, I though I should give NTSE exam. I was a student of the state board and the scholastic part of the NTSE was from CBSE board. And like JEE, nobody I knew had cleared NTSE. Anyways I gave the exam. I had no faith in the way our answer scripts were going to be corrected in class 10th boards. This lack of faith was vindicated when my entire school was awarded 66 in English. I gave NTSE so that I can back my claim that my state board sux in evaluation. On the day I was leaving for Delhi to apply for schools, I read the paper. The paper had my name. I was fourth in the state. prelim of NTSE So, I left for Delhi armed with evidence that my state board sux. Moreover, our state had a reputation for declaring results late rather late.

My life in kgp revolved around extra acads- kshitj, tech gc ,placement committee work and alumni cell- necessarily in that order :D. When I joined kshitj or ktj as we affectionately call it. It was not so big as it is today. I was primarily involved in events in Ktj but the biggest surprise came in spons. Me and chuha went to Delhi for our DP trip. DP as in Durga Puja– this trip is the time when we go out with a begging bowl to organize the fest that has become a phenomenon now. The year before the entire member team had collected around 20 k. Not even a single penny came from Delhi. Me and chuha were given target of 20 k from Delhi. By that time our entire member team had collected 2k from one months worth of calling. With modest hopes, I landed in Delhi and within an hr of my reaching Delhi, i started cannibalizing SF(:D)- the cult fest our bigger brother back then. By afternoon I had 8 k. Chuha had arrived by then, we then decided to meet one alum who was not so inclined on giving us money. I don’t know what struck me but i started talking to him about an ad. Chuha was getting frustrated by my side thinking we lost the money – why will someone sponsor us after hearing the nonsense i was blubbering. But I was in the midst of a Midas touch then and he backed me adding a few more nonsensical sentences.When I had finished, we got a cheque of 15 k. We had achieved our trips target in one day. We somehow held our nerves for a few moments and once beyond the visible range of Mr. Subhash Kalia – we indulged in mad celebrations. We got many more sponsorship deals – probably bigger in volume but first time surprise tastes sweet.

I am proud of being ruled by the British

Today, with the balance and perspective offered by the passage of time and the benefit of hindsight, it is possible for an Indian Prime Minister to assert that India’s experience with Britain had its beneficial consequences too. Our notions of the rule of law, of a Constitutional government, of a free press, of a professional civil service, of modern universities and research laboratories have all been fashioned in the crucible where an age old civilization met the dominant Empire of the day. These are all elements which we still value and cherish. Our judiciary, our legal system, our bureaucracy and our police are all great institutions, derived from British-Indian administration and they have served the country well.

Of all the legacies of the Raj, none is more important than the English language and the modern school system. That is, if you leave out cricket! Of course, people here may not recognise the language we speak, but let me assure you that it is English! In indigenising English, as so many people have done in so many nations across the world, we have made the language our own. Our choice of prepositions may not always be the Queen’s English; we might occasionally split the infinitive; and we may drop an article here and add an extra one there. I am sure everyone will agree, however, that English has been enriched by Indian creativity as well and we have given you R.K. Narayan and Salman Rushdie. Today, English in India is seen as just another Indian language.

The idea of India as enshrined in our Constitution, with its emphasis on the principles of secularism, democracy, the rule of law and, above all, the equality of all human beings irrespective of caste, community, language or ethnicity, has deep roots in India’s ancient civilization. However, it is undeniable that the founding fathers of our republic were also greatly influenced by the ideas associated with the age of enlightenment in Europe. Our Constitution remains a testimony to the enduring interplay between what is essentially Indian and what is very British in our intellectual heritage.

The idea of India as an inclusive and plural society, draws on both these traditions. The success of our experiment of building a democracy within the framework of a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious society will encourage all societies to walk the path we have trodden. In this journey, both Britain and India have learnt from each other and have much to teach the world. This is perhaps the most enduring aspect of the Indo-British encounter.

It used to be said that the sun never sets on the British Empire. I am afraid we were partly responsible for sending that adage out of fashion! But, if there is one phenomenon on which the sun cannot set, it is the world of the English speaking people, in which the people of Indian origin are the single largest component.

No Indian has paid a more poetic and generous tribute to Britain for this inheritance than Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. In the opening lines of his Gitanjali, Gurudev says:

“The West has today opened its door.
There are treasures for us to take.
We will take and we will also give,
From the open shores of India’s immense humanity.”

To see the India – British relationship as one of ‘give and take’, at the time when he first did so, was an act of courage and statesmanship. It was, however, also an act of great foresight. As we look back and also look ahead, it is clear that the Indo-British relationship is one of ‘give and take’. The challenge before us today is to see how we can take this mutually beneficial relationship forward in an increasingly inter-dependent world.I wish to end by returning to my alma mater. Oxford, since the 19th century, has been a centre for Sanskrit learning and the study of Indian culture. The Boden professorship in Sanskrit, and the Spalding professorship in Eastern Religions and Ethics, stand testimony to the university’s commitment to India and Indian culture. I recall with pride the fact that the Spalding professorship was held by two very distinguished Indians: Dr S. Radhakrishnan, who later became the President of India, and by Dr. Bimal Krishna Matilal. In the context of the study and preservation of Indian culture, I also wish to recall the contribution of another Oxonian, Lord Curzon, about whose project to preserve and restore Indian monuments, Jawaharlal Nehru said, “After every other Viceroy has been forgotten, Curzon will be remembered because he restored all that was beautiful in India.”

Words of Dr. Manmohan Singh, prime minister of India and possibly the single biggest reason why we as a country is today economically solvent.Thus I start my defense of my belief why I believe English should not be replaced with Hindi in India. My most fundamental objection to English bashers is hypocrisy. One of these enlight(dark)ened folks said that if I am proud of India’s economic might on account of our command of english, I should be proud of being ruled by the British and that I should be proud of the fact that we as a nation should be proud of the fact that we were a colony of British.so, here I am waging my war in the digital domain.

I shall try to establish my case on the following grounds
1)Hypocrisy
2)Need of Diversity
3)Dynamic state of any culture

Dwelling on the hypocrisy part of it, if we are to be ashamed of British rule, we should be ashamed of Aryan rule, we should be ashamed of mughals, we should be ashamed of being civilized. History books abound of tales of how the technically superior at a particular point of time conquered the less advanced societies and moved the wheel of civilization. If there was no invasion, probably we would have still lived in the caves. It is not that flow of knowledge is a one directional stream from the visitors to vanquished its a bidirectional affair.So if we are proud of Taj Mahal, if we are proud of Red fort, if we are proud of Ajanta and Ellora we should be proud of Victoria Memorial, we should be proud of Archaeological survey of India but for which many of these treasures would have been consigned to the dust.
We make no bones about cheering for Indian cricket team but some pseudo nationalist who are more fluent in English than Hindi feel that Hindi should have precedence over English. why should English tat give us bread and butter be the punching bag. Is it not against Indian culture to disrespect food.There is no disagreement over the fact that bulk of us have been ruled by a few since ages, how does it matter if the rulers of 150 years were born in Europe.If we are to be ashamed of British rule, we should be ashamed of parliamentary democracy, fundamental rights magna carta, rule of law. If we are proud of all these, we should be proud of whatever we have achieved under British rule.

Second thing is about diversity: Is language so important in context of nation like India where language can never be unifying factor. Language in a country like India can only be divisive ask the fighters of separate state of Maharastra and Andhra. A few argue that national language is as important as national flag.But by that logic we should also have a state religion. But we cannot in India as India allows it’s citizens to practise any faith. then again some might argue that if nobody objects to us speaking our language than what is the problem in enforcing another language. for me Hindi is as foreign a language as French, Latin or Hebrew or English. No matter what you say a person cannot be fluent in all language so Hindi was my third priority with English being the first for economic reasons. I make no bones about it. If Hindi was the lingua franca of the world Hindi would have been my first priority. But real world economics are different.If I have to chose between two alien languages, I would rather chose the one that buys my food and medicines.The some would say that not all people knows English in India. That is definitely because English is not promoted as much as Hindi is by government. If all of India becomes fluent in English, the economic gains will be enormous but it seems politicians only care of their own children go to English medium schools. Merely a fact that more people in India speak Hindi should ot be the reason for its imposition. Moreover more than fifty percent of Indians do not call Hindi as their mother tongue. Well I would not like to dwell too much on statistics for they can be most easily manipulated. But ultimately It remains a fact that India has too many languages to be associated with one language. Then their is logic of why only one national animal, but how does the choice of national animal hurts my pocket. If some symbol can help give national identity without any adverse effects than why not. It may sound selfish but if I am generating revenue for myself and paying my taxes doing honest work than is it not more patriotic than professing love for a language and evading taxes.

Finally dynamic nature of culture: hindi was not spoken in India from ages. It was Sanskrit,Pali, Pakrit culture is an ever changing wheel we should never try to stop this change for it is nothing but a futile exercise.