Thursday, March 24, 2005

"Aam Aadmi" - The Common Indian

Last couple of days, on a forum of friends, we have been discussing about India - As a nation, have we progressed or regressed? have we become more liberal and free in out outlook, or have we become more corrupt? are we losing basic human values or are we sheding shackles of needless traditions? etc.

I am sure this kind of discourse is common to any society/nation undergoing changes.... and in such discussions/debates/discourses, often we have a tendency of focusing either only on the best or only on the worst in a society - and taking a position on that (mainstream media further enhances this tendency and cashes on it)...

...though India is not the benchmark for Utopia, but history unfolds.... there are common people who are helping it move in a direction, which is often not covered in the main-stream media.... which led me to revisit one of my favourite sites about the grassroot things which are happing in India

... and for the first time, I visited the personal page of D V Sridharan, the creator of goodnewsindia, which gives his personal view of India (as he mentions: "Every man has a view of his land and his people. This is mine. Of India....")

... and came across one of the most cogent description of the "aam aadmi" - the common man - who fuels India's development. To quote:

"In every society and country, the most noticed are the celebrities and the wretched. The former gets undue attention and the latter rightly, the much needed spotlight.

So is it with India's media. At some time or the other an Indian must wonder if the values and energies, (which) the rich, the famous and the powerful represent are all that we are going to depend on to sort the problems of the dispossessed. Is there anything at all 'out there' other than the play of the celebs.?

My own way out of my depression was to look for little known people and events that add up to a brighter future and publish their stories. Which was how was born.

During my travels I came across many Indians, who won't make 'news' because they are not in mainstream media's two great constituencies that I mentioned earlier. Nor will these little Indians make it to the main pages of

But they are nevertheless the stuff and guts of India. They rarely venture out of their beat, seldom disturb the structures they live in, scarcely interest newsmen, and are almost never unpredictable.

What is common to them all is this set: a family-centred life, modest ambitions that India can certainly help them attain, a conviction that their country is a good place to be in, that tomorrow will be better than today, a work ethic, an awareness of the power of the systems that surround them - the employer's, state's and God's.

They stand in lines to vote, send their children to the armed forces,practice their religions, pay their dues, hunt for bargains, treasure their ration cards, fear taking loans, reach out to poor relations, keep in touch with their 'native places', believe in divine justice, spoil their children, care for the elderly, venerate their ancestors, enjoy company picnics, celebrate the festivals, cultivate traditional arts, give alms, believe in destiny...

It is their collective lives that makes sociologists declare Indians are religious, have family values and are hard-workers.

Together, these little known people have powered the Indian continuum.

Material contentment comes easily to the these Indians. And once there, they begin to reflect. What next?: a new group, a skill, a charity, a happening, a journey, a discovery, a belief... the dormant social engineer in them is preparing to act..."

1 comment:

srikar said...

The desription of "aam admi" was indeed thoughtful. Recently ,i took a train from hyderabad to delhi, one of my first long journeys. people were getting in and out of my sleeper compartment, as it was a day travel. mostly people going to/back from offices. be in andhra,maharashtra,madhya pradesh, the people were remarkably similar. mostly around 40-50 years old. similar dressing.. of old but ironed trousers & shirts, tiffin boxes tied in polythene covers ,similar discussions abt their kids in coaching classes, their bosses in offices etc.... everybody wanting to know the cricket match score, everybody making similar jokes to their fellows.. . for one who never ventured out of andhra pradesh, this was quite an experience !.