I have been upset with the way India has been governed for decades. I’m 45 and attained political puberty at the age of 12 when I was elected as a member of the constituency executive of the Janatha party in 1978. It was the first time the independent India had a government other than from the ruling Congress Party of the Indira-Nehru dynasty. My father used to read out to us the atrocities under Indira Gandhi’s rule (the Emergency as it is still called in India). Only the Indian Express covered the scale of the atrocities. Forced vasectomies, slum demolitions without compensation, torture in police cells and prisons, imprisonment of opposition leaders. Many died and others disappeared without a trace. Only my father in our village subscribed to the Indian Express. He preferred it over the vernacular daily Manorama although he subscribed to that also. The radio plus two dailies was a major cause of strife in the family. According to my mother my father spent too much money on the radio batteries and the news papers. He never drank or wasted money other than on the poor who borrowed from him. The money he lent was always written off as they seldom got repaid.
My father could speak proper English in our view. He could read Indian Express and translate it in to Malayalam for a start. The torture of George Fernandez and Jai Prakash Narain in prison cells was narrated in detail in the Indian Express. I cried and felt so upset. We all wished the down fall of Indira Gandhi in private. When the elections finally were held we listened on the radio throughout the night for polling up dates. I still remember the joy of hearing, ” Shri (Mr.) Raj Narain of the Janatha is leading by thirteen thousand….. votes against his nearest rival Shrimathi (Mrs.) Indira Gandhi of the Congress from the Raebrailly Constituency…….after…………votes were counted………..We can now confirm that Shri Raj Narain has defeated his nearest rival Shrimathi Indira Gandhi by margin of fifty six thousand….votes” The joy in the fall from grace of Mrs Indira Gandhi for me was like the joy of a Jewish person in the fall of Hitler.
The news papers normally arrived at about 9 AM the time we set off to school two and half miles away. India still had not adopted the metric system and everyone referred to distances in miles in our village. Some even referred to distances in the Hindu “Metric” system. Girls in the schools wore short skirts and blouses and the concept of panties were still a decade or so away.
My simmering discontent against the governance deficit in India erupted in the form of an open letter to the Prime Minister of India on or around 15 February 2011. I have been in the UK for the past 14 years but only my body is in the UK. I love India first and Britain the second. Some times you criticise the people you love the most the harshest at times not even realising it.