Get A Grip and Up Your Game

Saturdays With Shivani

Two posts doing rounds on social media caught my attention last week. One was on the ‘scientific basis’ behind the alphabet of Indian languages that went on and on about how sounds are produced from different areas of our mouth and throat. It was interesting until the point it exhorted us to take pride in our languages and ‘let the world know’ of our superiority.

The second post had the Mona Lisa juxtaposed with an alleged Raja Ravi Varma’s painting. I say alleged because it was clearly a model who was dressed as one of the painter’s muses. I don’t want to dwell on that because I was more bothered by what was written beneath the pictures. It asked us to compare the two and pick one; obviously expecting us to choose Varma’s. The post concluded on the note that propaganda and ‘lobbies’ was the reason behind our ignorance for our country’s work and making Mona Lisa and the likes famous.

The need to belittle one and upstage the other is what irked me in both the instances. Isn’t it a little like comparing apples with oranges? Why can’t we pick both? What if someone really likes Mona Lisa more than anything else? Would we shame them for their choice or label them as anti-national? Why as a nation are we so insecure that we cannot generate pride in our greatness unless we bring down others? What is the message that we send out by making such posts— that we cannot handle others popularity and need to bring it down to feel better about ourselves? Don’t we look like a bunch of losers than a proud country when we indulge in this pettiness?

Let me state here that I am not getting unnecessarily worked up or blowing things out of proportions. These two posts are just examples of how our mentality works and how we are manipulated into feeling like a victim of world propaganda.

I have firm belief that India is a great country. Our diversity and the richness of our culture are unparalleled. We have more than enough to be proud of and there is no need to smudge other cultures for that. What we need is to provide more platforms where our culture can be celebrated. Our artists and artisans need patrons and visibility. There are efforts being done which as individuals we should encourage. Making, reading and forwarding nonsense posts is definitely not the way to do it.

Let us consciously make our kids aware of their roots by introducing our culture and language in a more interesting format. Unless we make it palatable for them, we cannot expect them to consume it; a fact we need to accept. Once we do that we need to step back and let them choose. If they still choose Mona Lisa then they have made a conscious choice that we should not question or shame.

We have perpetuated the idea of feeling good by making comparison for far too long. Its time that we embrace our culture and the rest of the world’s without the fear of losing our identity. I liked what Asha Bhosle said in a recent reality show and since she is someone we all see as our cultural icon, I’ll share it here- har tarah ka gana sunane aur gaane se hamara gana aur samrudh hota hai (listening to different types of song/ music makes ours richer).

Leaving you with this thought in the hope that we shall spend less energy on pulling others down and investing it in getting a grip and upping our own game.

Dr. Shivani Salil


  • Rhiti Chatterjee Bose

    I am in complete sync with what you have written. This is something I believe in deeply, to appreciate or love something doesn’t need any comparison, no need to bring others down to make ourselves look mighty.

  • S.Sen

    Very well written. I love how you pick up various facts and facets and analyze them.

  • Anjali Hazari

    Shivani you hit the nail on the head.
    We Indians certainly find it difficult to acknowledge others contribution or qualities . We seem to feel it takes something away from us.
    An extremely insightful and necessary post.


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