As India celebrates its 70th Republic Day, I reflect on my own last decade as an NRI and how India has made a difference to my life over the last few years.
While many of us left many years ago or were naturalised citizens, India has always had a special place in our hearts and over the years it has increasingly made that heart beating stronger and prouder.
In the last few years, India has been increasingly in the news for all the right reasons — Launching scientific missions to Mars, leading the world through a slowdown in being the world’s fastest economy.
We have shown our neighbors that no more will India sit back and take a terror beating. We are the No.1 cricket team in the world! However, most of all the greatest pride has been due to some of the national programmes launched under Narendra Modi that has lifted tens of millions out of poverty on a scale that has never been seen before.
Many of us find his work ethic inspirational like traveling the world in 3 to 4 days and only sleeping on flights before turning up for his own party in the next state election to garner more votes. It’s his dedication and his work ethic which has really been a breath of fresh air to decades old nepotism that has existed in Indian elections.
Every year I stare at the parade on Republic day and marvel at India’s technological prowess. Not just weapon systems but the interest and dedication of India’s youth to come up with new technological solutions via a downloadable app.
We can not only launch our own GPS system and even multiple moon missions but can also direct you to a new and tasty meal via Zomato. Made in India! Maybe via even using an Indian GPS system to do so.
However, over the last 3 to 4 years with so much progress, they will always be naysayers. Many will point out to concerns regarding lynching mobs, and while such concerns may be valid, they also belay concerns regarding a very selective news media.
For every sporadic concern of mob related violence related to cattle smuggling and people getting caught, they are tens more deaths inflicted by cattle smugglers on those trying to protect the illegal transport of cows. However, these valiant souls never get a mention for the life they have lost in the gruesome violence that involves cattle smuggling.
Every President of India has come on TV the night before, speaking of tolerance and inclusiveness. However, it seems curious to me that generations of refugees over thousands of years have always come to India seeking a safer place. The reason why is it so because of Hindus have great tolerance and their belief in the idea of “Vasudeva Kutumbakam”, the world is one family.
The list of refugees is exhaustive. From ancient history of Parsis, Jews and Syrian Christians to more recent of Bahai, Ahmadiyya, Afghans and Burmese. Indeed, the current UNHCR data shows that over 200,000 refugees are currently making a home and thriving along with the Indian economic surge. Over 1 million Nepalese have made India their home because of better opportunities!
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What is however worrying is the daily media news regarding intolerance. It feels overstretched and falsified purely by smaller political parties for their own corrupt gains and for vote bank politics.
The greatest worry for us that can stare in from outside is a return to such crony corruption via decades held multiparty systems without any real leadership. Dynasty and nepotism of leaders offering unrealistic and impossible freebies including houses to win elections are India’s greatest danger in the months ahead.
India’s future lies in its technological progress and its entrepreneurship for the youth of India to come up with new ideas to not only sustain themselves but to power India’s technological revolution into the next decade. This however will never come about, if crony politicians resort to handouts to get votes.
As NRIs, although we carry new passports but we still care passionately about the land of our forefathers. It is that which makes us and guides us in our daily life including choices we make for the years ahead. While we may all come from different backgrounds, if anybody asks me where I came from, I shout proudly India! Jai Hind!
(The writer is Vikram Hakura, a distinguished professional living in the US for last one decade.)