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Being Indian

india Updated: Dec 29, 2007 22:59 IST
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Earlier you had self-respect. Now you have google. A google search for New India throws up 143,000,000 results. (Some of them are irrelevant but there are also those like a New York Times piece titled ‘The Myth of the New India’.) 2007 was the year we not so much fell in love with the notion of New India as learnt to embrace it as a different country.

This wasn’t India Shining. This was India so iridescent, so dazzled in the glow of its own success that it had turned an adjective into a proper noun. Talk about reinvention.

Money can’t buy me love but look at what love of money can buy me: stocks, and more money. The Sensex was a rocket this year. We took a ride. People became dollar billionaires by listing their companies. Forbes loved us. Fortune 500 loved us.

Goldman Sachs loved us. Indians were getting richer than… Getting richer faster than… India was growing more than… Ever more than… Ooooh.

Elsewhere, India (presumably the old India where an adjective remained an adjective) limped, coughed, spluttered and threw up some blood. One of every six Indians continued to live in the shadow of insurgency. Farmers continued to kill themselves. And nearly 300 million Indians continued to be unsure of where their next meal would come from. (I see some of them on the way home every night, wiping the AC-induced mist on my car window, begging for alms.)

Sometimes, you only had to fold up your paper, switch off the TV and walk out to see how the distance between the two Indias telescoped.

In self-satisfied, self-congratulatory Mumbai, the thumping chest of New India, people revved Mercedes C-classes on roads barely fit for bullock carts.

But hell, who wants a whinge?

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. In the patch of New India that I live, you can browse in a well-lit, well-stocked booze shop and pick up the ingredients for a mean Rusty Nail (Scotch — I’d recommend a 10-year-old Laphroaig — and Drambuie). Better still, you can have the stuff delivered home.

Cheers. Now don’t blame me for the hangover.

(Soumya wants lessons on the difference between adjectives and proper nouns. He doesn’t pump iron. He pumps irony.
soumya@hindustantimes.com )

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