From malnutrition to disease, the Indian stereotype has long been riddled by negativity. But amidst the pollution and the chaos, the crowds and the diseases – there are things that defy that stereotype and in the process, redefine what it means to be Indian. In no particular order, here are five things that broke the mold recently.
Scaling New Heights
We have plastic polluting our waters, garbage rotting on our streets and particulates populating our air. To say many Indian cities are dirty would be to state the obvious. But there are those among us who have pledged to clean a mess in freezing winds and subzero temperatures.
With pyramids of discarded sleeping bags, oxygen cylinders and human excrement, Mount Everest has been dubbed the ‘world’s highest junkyard’. Recently, the Indian Army pledged to clean up over 4000 kg of trash from the peak. With climbing season just beginning and our jawans pledging to take action, its safe to say Swachch Bharat just peaked!
Made in India
From cheese to chocolate, Indians have long been used to buying the ‘imported’ version of commodities as a hallmark of quality. Recently, India’s space agency ISRO launched the first space shuttle that is entirely made in India. Weighing almost 11 tonnes, this shuttle will generate data that will help reduce the cost of space launches by almost 90 per cent. And this comes on the heels of our Mars shuttle Mangalyaan being lauded globally as the most efficient of its kind. From space shuttles to soap, its time to switch to the desi version!
From Mandaps to Microscopes
In recent years, frogs in India made international news because of the weddings that we decided to host. True story – in several Indian states, it is customary to carry out frog weddings to make the rain gods smile. Thankfully, the frog scene in India has changed recently due to the efforts of a single man – Dr Biju.
Biju has discovered 89 of India’s 388 frog species including this purple frog (which speaking of weddings looks like the offspring of a frog marrying a pig). The Economist recently called Dr. Biju the “closest thing Indian herpetology has to a celebrity” and I think we can all agree.
Every Child Matters
India is fighting many battles for its children’s well-being from child marriage to malnutrition. The statistics are overwhelming and many young lives in India are indeed at risk. But the story of Pune-based engineer Aditya Tiwari, 28, who is now the youngest single man in India to adopt a child, is inspiring.
Tiwari fought against a confusing adoption system which is set against single parent adoption, a dysfunctional bureaucracy that keeps moving children across jurisdictions, and pervasive social prejudice (who will marry you if you adopt) to take his son home. Incidentally, Aditya knew all along that Binny – his adoptive son – was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Maybe things can change in India, one child at a time.
Palace of Dreams
From touts ready to take you for a ride (literally) to the debilitating lack of bathrooms on the highways, the horror stories about traveling in India have crossed the globe. Perhaps this is why it is heartwarming to see one of our own top the list of the world’s best hotel. The Umaid Bhawan Palace was recently voted the best hotel in the world, according to Trip Advisor. It’s good to see Jodhpur topping the best that the world has to offer.
Indeed, for every truth about India, the opposite is also true. Who would have thought that from being the country’s ‘default operating system’, we would move to an (almost) Congress-Mukt Bharat? Here’s to defying the stereotype and breaking the mold. Jai Hind.