I woke up questioning my ‘Indian millennial’ self if it is justified for me to be a resident of the United Kingdom. The country India bled out to not very long ago. Fitting question for my first Independence Day here, isn’t it?
One can argue that it is perfectly okay for a millennial – never saw the struggle, nobody cares about it in this time, and we have different issues to bother about as Indians, not who colonised the country in the previous century.
Or one can let it gnaw at that idea loosely developed during teenage that I’d never want to live here given all the history and so on. It forced me to think beyond my recent London thumakda moments.
So where am I? Post-colonial Britain? Debatable. Anti-colonial society? Maybe. I cannot claim to have learned much about the country in my less-than-three-months here. But I have definitely observed some things that make me believe that the state isn’t necessarily representative of the people even in a democracy. Sounds familiar?
Normal people. Bothered by weather. Rushing to work. Enjoying their food and drinks. Travelling on weekends. Paying a LOT of tax money.
Standard government. Political battles. Trivial matters. Troubled borders. Vague international positions.
Of course, one does have better infrastructure here than in India. But that doesn’t mean that public transport doesn’t go on strike or public places don’t leak after heavy rain or streets aren’t littered. It’s the same.
It’s a Conservative government. The issues are different, but the fundamentals are the same.
So, what if I extrapolate this scenario to the 19th and early 20th century? I admit I have not read any literature on English people’s sentiments on colonialism but I want to infer that not everyone would have been in favour of what the government did. Just like today. Just like in India. And it is really the people I’m living with now – not the government.
And I can ignore Churchill’s statues. Just like Mayawati’s.
Happy Independence Day!
PS – I will not pay to go see the crown jewels. Those are ours.