The end of secondary schooling of a stereotypical Indian student's life also means the end of history classes, vande mataram (national song) and jana gana mana (national anthem). I've been both unfortunate and fortunate to experience different schools. The first school I attended was run by a part-time priest in a village temple. All the children, irrespective of their grade, sat together and the sole school master went in turns to teach us. The last school I attended, in huge contrast, was apparently the best school of that time in my state (in terms of competition). Between those, I have also been to a couple of Christian missionary schools. As far as I remember, Independence day has been more or less a religious festival where we worshipped few idols placed infront of the flag-post raised in the school's playground. Though in this case, the idols are of not gods, but humans. Every year, the school authorities invited few chief guests on this occasion who iterated few traditional remarks about Independence and our duties, listening which we were bored as they were exactly the same as the remarks from every other guest. Many other things changed from school to school, but not this.
I respect those who chose/choose to teach in Indian schools, more than anyone else. Because it is financially least attractive, yet the most important work in the country. But this should not be an excuse to not criticize them. The criticism holds true for every adult as well. They talk about Gandhi as if he is a God, and Nehru as if he popped out of the heavens. You can replace Gandhi and Nehru with any leaders' names. They preach all the non-sense about India, that is constitutionally incorrect to say the least (My favourite of all: Hindi is the national language). This they do, because of two main reasons: inability to question and submissive attitude both of which are artifacts from colonial rule to an extent. And, they are too religious in following the textbooks and going not an inch beyond. They teach about the developments in India as if they are all heroic efforts of a single person. This in summary is how we are taught about our country.
Go to a random Indian school, and ask the students about Kashmir: you will see stupidity intermixed with patriotism at its best in play. Or if that is too strong, just tell them that Nehru had a glass of wine: you'll be happy if you step out of the premises in your given shape. Somehow, which I think is true with people from every country, we are conditioned as such: to think that our leaders are ideal, our country is the best, our culture is perfect, so on and so forth, we just cannot imagine otherwise.
This can not get any worse. The effect of demi-godification of those prolific leaders during the initial stages of life (esp. schooling), is profound in day-to-day life of the people. This completely demolishes the ability to criticize and learn. If I see Gandhi being worshipped, I can only admire him, I can not be inspired. How can I be? I need to know that he failed sometimes, so that I know I can also fail, and then succeed one day! When I was in Turkey, I saw their flag everywhere, in every corner of the street. I was told it inspires nationalism which is needed to bind them together. Pushing our leaders, country and ideals beyond the human elements definitely does the same magic. But this country does not need that binding thread called nationalism at the cost of peoples wisdom anymore. The people of this nation aged 65 years together in their marriage between cultures, languages and regions. They should have learnt to co-exist by now. If not, they will.
This attitude of thinking affects politics the most, with each citizen vouching for the leader in his/her own caste group, devotionally whether that so called leader is worth a vote or not. Not to mention, the movie industry, sports... you name it! There are indeed other factors in action, but the principle behind each of them is the same: demi-godification. The act of questioning has long been forgotten by our kins. Gandhi's autobiography and Nehru's Discovery of India emphasize the single most crucial thing which they say captured the whole Indian philosophy and thought, and that which thrust the nation to its independence: Truth. Truth alone triumphs is what our national emblem says in commemoration of that (Satyameva Jayate/సత్యమేవ జయతే). Yet, in this very nation, we deprive ourselves of it under the cover of ignorance, submission and peoples' worship. We should ofcourse be greatful to all the people who fought for our freedom and more so, for the leaders who brought those people together. But it is all the more important we know their regrets besides their wishes, their failures besides their successes, and their motivations besides their actions. It is the only way to fill the knowledge pot over generations. The pot will have no value if it is just passed on with an admiration, of whatever scale it might be, for it loses significance the next moment.
Reading Nehru's Discovery of India made me feel so bad that today we live so inferior a life compared to what our leaders have dreamt for us. But it also makes me proud to have had such a wise generation leading us to what we are today, and it definitely demands much more rensponsibility on our part. Happy Independence day!