If I were to ask you to name the best writers of the world across centuries, chances are that most of the writers you’d think up would be western writers. Let’s do another exercise. Think of great painters of the world across centuries. Again, chances are that most painters you’d think of would be non Indian. Without getting into the detailed reasons about why that is so, I want to state that this blog is not about writers or painters. I used this exercise to merely state a point: That there is at least a small component of the way we perceive our own, ‘local’ artists. I use the word ‘local’ deliberately. The word, in Indian daily usage, generally implies a lack of quality, sophistication and class.
The term is very popular in the middle class and the ‘Ah – of course’ westernized (anglicized and americanized) upper middle class and higher classes. In a nation where you aren’t worthy of much respect if you don’t know english (even though most Indian languages are equally nuanced and complex, if not more).
So why this rambling? because, in my opinion, this is reflective of a nation which is not comfortable in its own skin. And because of this, we are always in this frenzy to be what we are not, and what we even need not be. We anyhow don’t need to turn into another America or as our older generation would say, another Britain. We just need to be a better us, on the basis of what we define as better.
When you’d see what I am saying, you’d start noticing that every middle class kid need not only learn guitar, or think it’s cool to play rock music. You’d see that India, in it’s ‘local’ self is so beautiful and full of excellence that you might not even need to go to New York Art and Design School to learn about art and design 🙂 (although New York school of Art and Design is a great school). You’d see that India and Bharat have a lot to learn from each other and that each of them is a beautiful part of a much bigger and much more beautiful picture. You’d see that ‘local’ is not a bad word, and that if we embrace our local and global sides, something very distinctly modern-Indian would arise. Something which India would not need to pretend to like it. Something which would naturally be a blissful state for us.
A perfect embodiment of what I am saying is in this performance below. In this performance, I see Bharat meeting India. Its brother long lost in Kumbh mela.