The Indian Speaks

The Indian Speaks (5)

We’re a schizophrenic nation, civilised on one level and medieval on another.” – Saif Ali Khan (a prominent Indian film star in his recent interview to the Times of India)

India is all things great – culture wise, history wise, art wise, diversity wise…India’s beauties make an endless list. When I talk about India with my friends, I do tell them all these things and they are mesmerised. I see the big eyes and the smiles and the appreciation. But when we talk about Indians, I don’t feel the need to present half the story. Yes, many Indians they meet in the west are often progressive and liberal. And when I present to them the truth about many others, they almost refuse to believe it.

What is the truth? Or what is it to my eyes, anyway?

I do think India is a schizophrenic nation. I have said this to many people in many different contexts. In a recent conversation with my father, in a different context, I said something on the lines of – “We are a confused nation. We have one leg in a boat that sails in rigid ways of the past and another leg in a boat that sails in the perceived liberal ways of the rest of the world.” And when I read the headline of the article reporting Saif Ali Khan’s interview, I nodded in agreement.

They send their children abroad for education but sit at home praying to the Lords that they come back with nothing more than a degree and an accent (i.e. no boyfriend!).

One is ‘allowed’ to choose his/her partner but only as long as the partner belongs to the opposite gender, is well employed and belongs to the same caste!

Girls are ‘allowed’ to go watch a movie with their friends who may be boys (this also may debatable in many households!!!), but the moment she has a boyfriend, she is chided for the same!

Sex, masturbation and condom – three words that are either uttered in hushed tones or not at all in an Indian household.

We have some really fine film makers. But if their voice isn’t dumbed down to sound appealing to the conservative masses, the films don’t see the light of the day. The censor board decided that a movie like ‘The Danish Girl’ shouldn’t be aired on Indian television! Reason? The board thinks that the content (the emotional journey of a man wanting to change his sex and has genital operation for the same) is too sensitive! Too sensitive? Really?

In this country, for most people, if you say “I am suffering from depression”, it translates to “(S)he’s mad!”

You can lose your sleep or even your mind. But you must not lose your virginity before you are ‘married’!

These are just a few things. I am sure there are many more examples. A significant fraction of Indians is more progressive than this. But I’m afraid it isn’t significant enough yet. There is a subtle but definite difference between appreciating our traditions and being regressive. I appreciate our traditions, culture, history and art. But I am not scared of change. I see reason in the way things have been but I don’t turn a blind eye to better ideas and thoughts. But I am afraid I can’t say this for most others!


What do you think? If you are a fellow Indian, what has your experience been and do you or do you not agree with these ideas? If you have Indian friends, what do you see in them?


14 thoughts on “The Indian Speaks (5)”

  1. Yass! OMG Exactly how I feel!!
    Sometimes it gets worse.. like the Controversy over the National Animal to be made cow and not Peacock..? Gods I almost spit out my morning coffee when i read that.. And these controversies about movie released.. Oh My God!, Pk and now Padmavati.. I don’t understand how people want to van movies without even seeing them!!
    This post is Preach..I’m so glad I found you!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked this post so much! I do think that intolerance is a big problem in India and I think the way we react to ‘new’ things is quite rigid, for whatever reason. I fail to understand why the rigidity.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this post! I wholeheartedly agree with you. What I feel is that we are such a diverse nation, divided according to religion, language, customs, caste, gender, and class. All these different divisions make it highly difficult for attitudes to change immediately. Moreover, I think our politicians use these differences and the fear of the ‘other’ for their own gain. In fact, based on the conversations I have with people of varied generations, I sometimes think that there, in fact, has been a steady decline in the society when it comes to embracing new ideas or considering things from another point of view.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have heard the argument that the diversity is in the way of acceptance to new ideas. I just don’t understand how or why. Irrespective of who you are and where you come from, rigidity isn’t justified. I actually find it funny that most people won’t even accept that we are a rigid society. Most people contend that opinion itself!!!


  3. Haha.. you nailed it..One thing I feel ‘Virginity’ , I feel if we loose with one , it would be pleasurable , else I feel it’s kinda masturbation with someone…


    1. I suppose that’s a personal thought and choice. This article isn’t about the pros and cons but about having the freedom to choose what you want to do and not being burdened by the norms of the society.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice post Aishwarya. I believe rigidity isn’t a part of Indian culture. It is a pest which has crept in and is reducing the potential of millions of people. Perhaps it is necessary to look at our past for inspiration. Could we have been the most liberal society that existed?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do think we were an extremely liberal society at one point in time. However it seems like that time was at least a thousand or more years away. And rigidity as it stands today is the fault of the society as it exists today. I don’t believe rigidity can be a part of any culture, I believe it has to do with the people, the society as I said!


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