Love makes the world go round they say; though Copernicus might disagree. But what makes people go around the world is a question still devoid of a clear answer. Could it be the lack of love? Nay, that would be being an extremist, and in matters of country and family, we Indians are anyway 'accused' of being one. Anyway, what's the big deal about people moving from one country to another, especially if the 'from' side of the globe is already overloaded with people?
Numbers never give the full picture, but they are quite an instrument to describe the magnitude of the picture. So when we observe that around 1,55,000 Indian students leave the country for either side of the Atlantic; around 1,70,000 professionals cross the Atlantic to grab a bite of the big Apple, with the Indians comprising a big 64% of the total H-1B approvals in the US, it is indeed a big deal. For a country where only 6.7% of the total literate population is able to formally enter a grad school or above; for a country which spends a fortune on a handful of its elite higher education institutions and their protégé, it indeed is a big loss. Hence the need of the inspiration to reduce this loss is more than ever. After all, why would someone with a sane mind choose the chaotic roads of a Chandni Chowk over a chic Manhattan lane to drive his Audi?
The answer is less complicated and less idealistic than it seems. I would stay here in my country and try to improve the state of things within my capacity, simply because it is mine, it is how I know life, and because I love my India. While this simple statement might seem pretentious to most of our 'common people' (Yes, somehow patriotism isn't one of the good values that our good old families tend to nurture in us from childhood.) it actually isn't. We actually judge ourselves a little too harsh on this, because the fact is; somewhere we all do love our country. Because loving it doesn't mean sacrificing our lives or the good things for the nation anymore. This love manifests itself in simplistic forms such as the food, the dresses, the movies, the traditions, the overbearing and nagging mama mamis and chacha chachis, the crowd, the rickety rickshaws and all things that we cannot imagine our lives without, including a lot of things we can't ever stop cribbing and whining about. It might sound contrasting but it isn't really.
Loving the country isn't really different from loving a person. Why do we love someone? It is certainly not because someone is perfect, has certain desirable qualities or fulfils our needs in the best possible way. It just happens because of the relation we share, because of the time we spend together, the memories we create, the lives we share and the connection we form. We love our loved ones with all their flaws. We realize, we accept and we grow to love their flaws as well, and at the same time trying to change them. The same relation we have with our country. We can judge it, we can 'not like' it at times or even often, but often we fail to realize that despite all this we love it, as it is ours, it is us! Anyone who has spent even a couple of months abroad will vouch for it. The desirable qualities of the first world infatuate us, but eventually it wanes out and what we miss is that connection, that understanding, that familiarity. That familiarity- of celebrating festivals along with the never ending trail of relatives; of attending the family weddings and dancing crazy to the inane bollywood numbers; of eating roadside puchka or vada pav; of waking up to temple bells and the taste of samosa and jalebi; of the faces that get concerned over a single sign of sickness we display; of the mismanagement, the chaos, all that is wrong with the system and of the newly found and emerging hope, that change is round the corner. Now which relationship doesn't involve change? More often than not, it is for the better!
So, yes I want to stay here and change the state of things, though it isn't the only or the main reason. In fact there is no reason; for, love requires no reason, hatred does. Love just is, and in the process it takes us through some beautiful changes, the one that our country is looking for. Maybe I won't be able to see the change, but then that wasn't a precondition. For the greater good, being selfless, contributing to the nation building- all these terms might sound coming out of some big heroic act but they are born out of sheer love.
Copernicus may rejoice purists may sulk, but even driving the Audi wouldn't be that much of a pleasure without the wide eyed looks, applauding comments and the children running and chasing it in the walled city!
(Lokesh Raj is a Delhi-based HR professional)