For the last two decades, many references have been made to the dichotomous nature of socio-political conditions India experiences. Whether it is the popular culture, movies, or politicians, most of us will acknowledge having come across “There are Two Indias Living In This Country”. Whether the statement is an attempt to strike accord to the populist sentiments, or a clichéd attempt by our politicians to fill up the gaps of adequate measures in their speeches/messages, no can deny the veracity of the sentiment. It is painful, but true.
A few years back, TOI, like many of its creative initiatives, had launched a campaign, “India vs India”. The campaign was all about the gulf of the two contrasting sections of Indian Population. "There are two Indias in this country. One India is straining at the leash, eager to spring forth and live up to all the adjectives that the world has been showering recently upon us. The other India is the leash. The other India says, 'Give me a chance and I'll prove myself.' The other India says, 'Prove yourself first, and then maybe I'll give you a chance.' One India lives in optimism of our hearts. The other India lurks in scepticism of our minds. One India wants. The other India hopes. One India leads. The other India follows."
A preliminary look at these lines might reap in certain appreciation for grabbing the essence of the disease India suffers from. But trying to look deeper into the campaign, one would find there is no true message in the campaign.
It is true that such gulfs exist. Our societal perspectives stem from feudal notions. In a transition from a feudal to neoliberal capitalist structure, some will catch the pace of time and succeed, and there will be others whose dogmatism and idiosyncrasies will deeply cost them. But when such a gulf exists, the question is, what do we do? Do we patronize the gulf? No. Should we be ecstatic considering India is doing well for itself despite of the gulf? No. Should we choose sides and let things be the way they are? No. We must immediately realise that for the holistic growth of any nation, it cannot afford to endure such massive disparities between different sections for a perpetual period of time. Such disparities are nothing but a continuation of the feudal notions humanity and society has fought hard to vanquish. So, when I look back at the phrase, I apprehend that it might seem as an attempt to catechize a certain kind of elitism, perpetuation of class distinctions (this is one is of a different kind) and a nation sitting on a time bomb.
Our country cannot afford to have two Indias. And it should not. Our recognition of nationality comes from the country we belong to, and if there is a confusion in what country it is, there is a big question mark on what our identity is, as nationality is an important part of who we are as individuals, what rationality we are endowed with, what principles and notions we live by. In any society, there are individuals who are better endowed, groups who are more educated, hence having a contemporary perspective on issues and a definition of rationality in its modern essence. It is a thing to be thankful about, not to be very proud about. (An Islamist fundamentalist living in the most marginalised society of Afghanistan would have been a different individual had he been born in a well to do educated family living in suburban Chennai). Understanding and helping one another is what takes a society forward as a collective entity.
We are one nation; different individuals, suffering from similar problems.