If one were to believe what our texts, general media say about Indian culture, its rich traditions and heritage, its renowned religious tolerance, our belief in non violence it gives an impression that this is the best country one can live in. If our cinematic claptraps have to be trusted, then this our villages are full of pure milk and honey, a little dusty, but wtf, look at our ever helpful smiling neighbours, the entire village is one happy family.
I don't know about pure milk and honey, but we have been certainly brought up on very pure bullcrap indeed!
First, lets handle the culture and traditions bit-All this clamour by the cultural fascists who want to paint the country orange are guilty of malafide ignorance about our diversity-regional, linguistics, ethnic, religious, caste, class and what not. Even in one religion, lets say Hinduism (though I believe there is no such thing. It is a foreign coinage), the sheer diversity in philosophies are mind boggling (ranging from there is no GOD to multiple Gods). Similarly, in Islam there are many faiths ranging from Deobandi types to Ahmadiyas (who by the way are not even considered by many as true muslims). Anyway, many of these diverse practices and belief are so different that they are in conflict against each other, natural consequence may be. Since the fascists' narrow interpretation of "Indian culture" is so monolithic, their wish becomes command for their cadres. Worse part of this is, these people are not only politicians or such public figures always. They can be found at your neighbourhood, your building society, market, office, stadiums and nearly everywhere else and in all religions. They come in various hues and shades and are virtually unrecognisable. What the hell, they sometimes can be found in your own mind, showing up in some moments of truth.
Next, Heritage - Now whose heritage do we talk about? Indian history (whatever is deciphered so far) is rife with so diverse socio-political purpose, that it can atleast be cut in three dimensions. These three dimensions are region, time and class (as a surrogate for caste in the medeival ages). The political actions, its social and economic moorings change significantly if one travels in any of these dimensions. The same society, in different times may act very differently and to complicate the matters further, different practices may emerge for different castes. For evidence, pick up any two history books (of real historians) on the same topic and they will not be similar. For instance, read on the reign of Aurangzeb by JN Sarkar and SM Jaffar. While I agree that the historians since time immemorial have interpreted their versions of truth based on which camp they belong to. But still there are some irrefutable points that both sides bring out which the either side choose to ignore. So whose heritage are we talking about.
Thirdly lets take our hallowed Non Violence. Have you heard of any country that treats its women so badly that they are killed either through abortion or as new born or if she is unlucky enough to survive both then throughout her childhood, bit by bit? I am of course exaggerating, but the gravity of the situation today is horrifying. This country treats its poor badly, like animals. This country treats its old badly. So what kind of non violence do we preach to the world? Doesn't our poverty levels (whatever limits the Hon'ble Planning Commision decides) tantamount to violence of gigantic proportions? We aspire to sit in the high tables of UNSC and G20s or G-Timbaktoos but what treatment do we mete out to our fellow citizens? What honour do we bestow to our olds? Leave the Govt., how do we treat our grandparents and parents once they cross a certain age? Keep a hand on your heart and ask yourselves, do you want to grow old here? Frankly, I am not. To borrow my mothers words, the retirees should be given a cynide pills along with their superannuated compensation as an option.
I think that far from all the myths propagated across the world most of us (sometimes me included) are a bunch of intolerant hypocrites, who are too judgemental, too parochial and too engrossed to notice (let alone care for) it.