Some months ago there was one more fake news doing the rounds (when raja is feku then praja only gets fake news).
We were told that khichdi has now been declared our national dish.
Eventually it was found to be fake news despite photos of resident khichdi master, Ramdev baba stirring the pot with a hygiene cap on his head while his large hairy beard was waving around over the cauldron.
Is it a surprise to anyone that we took it seriously?! We have gotten so used to waking up every day with new plans and proposals to somehow add to ‘Brand India’ with the Bhagwat Gita becoming the national book, UNESCO awarding our PM as the Best on the world, mangoes becoming the national fruit, cows becoming more precious than women and girls, and everyone (including Pushpa) wanting to cry peacock tears.
So why not khichdi as the national dish? It was at least believable because after all, besides zero we have also given the world the concept of jugaad. We are like this only.
We are a country where 4 of the world’s major religions have originated. (and if you believe that Jesus met the Buddha and that Judas is buried in Kashmir, then we can take credit for a bit of Christianity also.).
India has offered unconditional refuge to Zoroastrians fleeing from Iran, Tibetans feeling from China, Jews fleeing from everywhere. There are as many as 8 synagogues just in Mumbai!
We have the largest number of Hindus and third largest Muslim population in the world. We speak 22 official languages but according to Census of India, the total number of mother tongues spoken in India is 1652. However, only around 150 languages have a sizable speaking population.
We have the Chitpawan Konkanastha Brahmins who may or may not have Bene Israel or Artic home origins and who are considered so high caste that they are beyond caste, and we also have the Jarawa tribals in the Andamans who may or may not still be practising cannibalism. We have 50 million Adivasis or native tribals, which is the largest amount of any country in the whole world.
Our genetics will probably reveal a delightful mix of everything from Afghans to Greek blood, Burmese to Tibetan. Gandhari of the Mahabharat was apparently from Afghanistan and Kaikeyi from Ramayan also from somewhere in that region. Alexander the Greek came with his armies to India and not all of them returned from the borders. The retinue of Thebaw, the king of Burma also stayed in Maharashtra and of his four daughters who were exiled with him, at least 2 married men from India. Helen, the famous dancer from Bollywood movies of the 80s is partly of Burmese origin though SD Burman, despite his name is from the Tripura royal family.
Even Taimur Khan whose photos flood social media is the son of a man who is 1/4 Assamese.
India currently hosts refugees from Bangladesh, China, Iran, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Meanwhile Arab states which are like next door to Syria have actually actively banned them.
We have amazing armed forces and abysmal politicians controlling them. We have so much wealth still trapped in the Kerala temple (estimated to be more than one trillion dollars at face value—not taking into account antique value!) and we also have billions of unaccounted dollars in Swiss banks but we continue to have as many citizens as the population of Russia living under poverty. (170 million)
80 million people eat beef, over 70% of Indians eat some form of meat/ chicken/ fish (the Bengalis call fish the fruit of the sea, so there you go). But we also have Jains who are not only vegetarian but also do not eat anything that grows underground (no potato fries, no garlic, no ginger, no onion. But they happily wear silk and pearls. Yes I know. It’s a religious thing. Logic does not apply.)
We manage to worship the Goddess and kill infant girls with the same passion.
We had Dr AP Abdul Kalam, literally a rocket scientist as our President and we also have the Akhil Bharatiya Gau Sewa leader telling us to cover the mobile phone in cow dung to protect from its radiation and to feed women cow dung to help with labour pains. We have love stories of Bajirao- Mastani and also of ‘love jihad’. We have women and children dying of completely preventable things like childbirth complications, unsafe abortions and diarrhoea while we are also one of the world’s leading destination for medical tourism.( worth USD 8 Billion at last count)
We have Dr Ambedkar who steered us to the longest written constitution of any sovereign country in the world and we have politicians still using caste politics for power.
We have Bollywood. Full stop !
Why just a national dish, India itself is a khichdi!
With increasing intolerance, bigotry and an attempt to homogenize everyone into one mould of acceptable Indian-ness, how long this dish will stay palatable is the question for the next generation.