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The juice of the jalebi trickled down my chin. To top the jalebi, I had a hot glass of creamy milk. The thought crossed my mind: this is incredible India! India is truly unique in its own way. It is a land of contrasts and variety. What else would you call a place with more than a thousand recognized languages, numerous cultures originating from the different regions, people of so many varied religions, casts, and creeds existing together in harmony?
Not far off from Mukesh Ambani’s billion dollar home, are hundreds of small and large clusters of slums, filled with filth and poverty. Beggars beg on the same streets on which Bentleys and BMWs vroom. India has witnessed major leaps in the field of science and technology but still there are people in remote areas of India, who sacrifice human beings to please deities. Foreign countries like the US want Indian IT professionals because they are considered amongst the best of programmers, while there are still many areas which don’t even get electricity; computers are a distant dream. There are so many challenges in front of us but still, keeping the faults aside, Indians are doing a great job in taking the nation forward.
India has the heart and the spirit. There is true brotherhood in our country. When there is an accident on the road, people gather around. Neighbours know neighbours and help each other out. Indians care for other Indians without any prejudices, keeping differences aside. Exceptions exist but generally Indians have a helpful attitude. In some countries like the US, everyone minds their own business and people do not pry into their neighbours lives. Years pass and still people do not know who lives next door! In India on the other hand, if someone moves to a house, their neighbours visit them, help them get settled. There is nothing wrong with the American lifestyle. It is just that Indians are different and have a reputation of being warm and welcoming, apart from being a little nosy. Indians have great hospitality and treat their guests very kindly; “atithi devo bhav”. Tourists from all over the world are struck by the warm welcome they receive anywhere they go. We learn to accept them as our own. There are so many extremes where we live, that discrimination is out of the picture. Even in a DTC bus, there will be people of so many different religions, castes and cultures that it is hard to find a handful of similarities. But, still they share seats and exchange smiles.
Faith moves mountains. In Indians, faith is in plenty. Superstition is a credulous belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge. But what harm lies if someone wants to believe in something. Obviously, inhuman and irrational practices like that of sati had to be abolished but what difference does it make if a black cat crosses your path and instead of ignoring it you take a few steps back to nullify the bad omen. Belief differs from person to person. Indians have complete faith in whatever they believe. In India it is amazing that even the poorest of the poor are ready to pay a pundit for an elaborate hawan when there is not even enough food to eat for the next day. This seems quite irrational to a few of us but it does work wonders for the poor person. Happiness comes only from satisfaction and doing what he believes in, makes him happy. In India, festivals are celebrated with utmost zest and passion. May it be diwali or holi, or for that matter, even Christmas or Id, people pray and rejoice. Such a festive atmosphere is created that hearts are filled with joy and hope.
Before the British rule, India was counted amongst the wealthiest of nations both, in terms of riches and spirituality. The Colonial rule came as quite a blow to the country, but Indians must feel proud that they have made the country recover so much after independence. Through the consistent efforts of several generations, India has become a prominent country on the globe and has also become a temporary member of the UN Security Council this year. These days, Indians are everywhere. So many different kinds of people share this wonderful country. The strength lies in our mutual tolerance and unity. You may be a Muslim or a Hindu, a baniya or a jaat, a malayaali or a Punjabi; but you will always be an Indian.