And next year's words await another voice
T.S. Eliot. Little Gidding
Unrelenting hope amidst unfathomable despair.
India was here before. Bofors, Shah Bano, Mandal, Kashmir, LTTE, Masjid, IMF, Bluestar, Bhopal. India endured.
Best part, it wasn't a messianic strongman who led us out.
***Gandhi spoiled us. We search for superheroes who do not exist.
Democracy spoiled us. We seek angelic outcomes from human institutions.
Vastness spoiled us. We summon strength from our continent-sized weaknesses.
It isn't a superhero or an institution or her vastness that will save India, rather the common sense and ability and hard work of ordinary Indians.
I learned this from an illiterate Indian carpenter. Born in caste-riven Eastern UP to parents who could give him nothing, he bootstrapped himself out of despair, went overseas, and became indispensable to privileged hotshots like me. I asked him, why? So that, one day, my children will grow up to be like you, he told me.
I've never been more humbled in my life.
He couldn't care less for patronizing superheroes who saw only his faith and caste and poverty as vanity projects to pad their egos. There were no institutions where he grew up. He was a nobody among India's intimidating vastness.
But this illiterate carpenter taught himself to be more skilled at what he did than superheroes could ever dream of being. He saved himself with unrelenting aspiration, sheer will, and his own two hands.
This is how India will be saved. All she needs is for superheroes to get out of her way.
Let me end where I started.
And all shall be well and
All manner of things shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one
Happy new year!