Bertrand Russell wrote “Why I am not a Christian.”
Kancha Ilaiah wrote “Why I am not a Hindu.”
Shashi Tharoor wrote “Why I am a Hindu.”
Shashi Tharoor thinks his book will appease Hindus. Kancha Ilaiah has had his book banned in universities but that will not stop its truths from spreading.
I would like to explain why I am an Indian, in the light of these developments, via negativa, and more rarely, in a positive vein, under the present cicumstances of a crumbling economy and our present political and sociological situation. My aim is to show that India is a bigger concept or construct than what either the Hindutva brigade or people like Tharoor know of or understand, and unless one redefines it now we cannot go forward. My essay shows the cracks in the common perception of what it means to be Indian and deconstructs the binaries to show those who fall between the cracks as a result. My methodology will be confusing to those who have never seen Lacan or Derrida actually applied, or post modernism or post structuralism or deconstruction, but to those others who know of this method my essay will be clear as an atttempt to fracture the idea that there is a monolithic entity called India, which is or was instead only a post-truth shifting morass or mass that is fluid and constantly shape-shifting and the fixity I have in it or anyone else is only ideologically provisional in these days of fast changing technology and science and can at any moment be replaced with a better combination or mess and so it behooves those who think the concept matters to understand that the concept itself is now under threat and can melt away if they are not wise to realise it has to be all inclusive and dynamic, and not static, as those displeased with it can go and live elsewhere with no difficulty in these days and the loss will be for the country.
I am an Indian because I am not a Hindu or a Muslim.
I am an Indian because I don’t know Hindi or Urdu or Sanskrit or Arabic or Persian.
I am an Indian because I am not upper caste or lower caste.
I am free of caste.
I am an Indian because I am not upper class or lower class.
I am an Indian because I am from South India with no memories of partition, its riots or Mughal supremacy.
I am Indian because I do not write in Malayalam but in English.
I am an Indian because I am not a communist or Marxist or Leninist or Stalinist or Maoist.
I am an Indian because I am not a tribal or adivasi or Dalit or feminist or poor or underserved or underprivileged or marginalized or belonging to LGBTQI, but refuse to be silenced in speaking for them.
I am an Indian because I am not privileged or served or rich.
I am Indian economically because I have very little assets and wealth, but also debts, being typically petit-bourgeois.
I am an Indian because presently I am not in India.
I am an Indian because I am not in the army.
I am an Indian because I am not a farmer, but a brain worker.
I am an Indian because I was born in India and live most of my life in it.
I am an Indian because while India is my country, and i definitely do love it, I do not consider most Indians either my brother or sisters.
I am an Indian because I am proud of all of India’s rich and varied heritage and not just some parts of it or things in it others want me to be proud of.
I am an Indian because I do not mistake India for Bharath.
I am Indian because I do not worship cows. I eat beef.
I am an Indian because “satyameva jayate” seems better as a motto to me than either “vande mataram” or “mera bharath mahaan.”
I am an Indian because I do not believe in the so-called greatness of Indian culture.
I am an Indian because I am happy with the present National Anthem. I am an Indian happy with our present flag and constitution.
I am an Indian because I do not belong to the political parties of BJP, Congress or AAP or Marxist or any other party.
I am an Indian because I am a brown skinned man from the race of Dravidians and asuras and not from the race of those who came from the North with tales of a new conqueror and the avatar of an imaginary, geographically located god.
I am an Indian because I am from Kerala. I am an Indian because I am a Malayali. I am an Indian because I love my family, extended family and my relatives.
I am an Indian because I fight for women, the disadvataged, the disabled or differently abled and the children, but only in and with words, usually, and by helping them, and not with weapons, as much as for workers and labourers and the poorest of the poor.
Presidential rule would suit India best now, in the absence of coalition rule which is the only way forward, and coalition rule is not exactly democratic and has to be replaced by another way of governance. I am an Indian as I am post or anti- democratic, anti-capitalist, anti-feudal, not fascist, not theocentric, not for monarchy, not for communism, or the republic, all of which I consider failed systems of government.
I am an Indian because I believe in the values, ethics and morals of Jesus Christ, and Buddha, as greater than that of other torch bearers of mores for civilization.
I am an Indian because I believe as Ambedkar did in reservation and conversion and as Gandhi did in ahimsa. I am an Indian as words like varna, gothra, kula, jaati make no sense to me. I am Indian as there is no urban-rural divide anymore as far as I am concerned anymore.
I am an Indian because I am a citizen with rights and duties in a sovereign, socialist, democratic, republic which is suppposedly humanist, secular, liberal and standing for liberty and equality and fraternity but isn’t nowadays and has never heard of a word like equity.
I am an Indian as its land, air and water and flora and fauna belong to me and my family as much as to anyone else and I belong to the same land and can own it and its water and air and flora and fauna which is my actual metaphoric mother and father. This naturally entails eco- and environmental responsibility.
I am an Indian who believes that nationalism, nation, state, India, religion, culture, caste, class, gender, history, race and other such flashpoints of ideology are all as much constructs as myth is, being partly compounded of the imagination and lies as well as reality and the truth.
I have explained both why and in what all I am an Indian and what or in what all I am not and if this makes me not Indian or less of an Indian in the eyes of anyone else in India or the world, whereas to me all this uniqueness makes me more of an Indian than anyone else, it is because they do not understand the diversity that is actually India and the possibility for unity that it actually offers.
Dr A.V. Koshy is an established author and writer who is a poet, critic and artist. He has a doctorate in Samuel Beckett’s Poems in English from the University of Kerala, now published. He has co-authored and published a monograph of essays called Wrighteings: In Media Res and has several, published research papers to his credit. His greatest desire is to build a village for people having autism where all their needs are met. He runs an NGO called “Autism for Help Village Project” with his wife for this dream to come true. He has fourteen other books out now as fiction writer, literary critic, poet, academician, literary theoretician, essayist, editor, anthologist, co -editor, co-author and co-contributor. His latest and perhaps best book is a collection of short stories Scream and Other Urbane Legends.
© Dr Koshy AV