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Welcome to India: a nation of national shames

“The results of this survey are both worrying and encouraging.”

As I read the above gem from the transcript of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s speech on the release of the HUNGaMA report (see What we can expect from the HUNGaMA survey), I was reminded of my high school civics textbook — “Our constitution is rigid and flexible” and other similar poppycock-sounding statements. But let’s grant that, as leader of the country, one has to frequently couch the bad news with some good. Let’s look at another gem:

“Problem of malnutrition is a matter of national shame.”

Couldn’t agree more, Mr. Prime Minister. I would go one step further and say that it should be a matter of “national Kolaveri.” (For the 1% of readers who have successfully shut their ears and eyes to the Kolaveri sensation, Kolaveri (in Tamil) translates to “murderous rage”.)

The above gem from the Prime Minister’s speech, widely tweeted on Twitter and systematically headline’d in all the mainstream media sites, was the inspiration for this post. I mean, this is not the first time we heard a Prime Minister, a Cabinet Minister, or any number of (even non-politician) Indians start a sentence with “[BLAH] is a national shame”.  Incidentally, the last time Prime Minister Singh called something a “national shame” was as recent as Dec 24, 2011 (a mere 17 days ago), regarding the falling “sex ratio” data from the 2011 census data.

Instead of curating my own list of India’s national shames, I decided to enlist Google’s help.   Here then is the list, in no particular order.. Sorry… I meant to say, “Google results order”. All the screenshot images link to the original story. (Viewer discretion advised, especially if you look at India with rose-colored glasses.)

Malnutrition a matter of national shame
Corruption a matter of great national shame
Commonwealth games - India's national shame
Of rapes and sexual assaults: India's national shame
Of prostitution and AIDS - India's national shame
914 girls to 1000 days: India's falling sex ratio national shame
Corrupt India (black money) is a national shame
On M.F.Hussain and religious intolerance: India's national shame
(On a different level) Jugaad - National Character, National shame
100% cutoff in premier educational institutions - national shame
Cash for votes, 2G: national shame
The great national shame: continuing farmer suicides
A national shame called "ragging"
Gujarat riots a national shame
Honour killings a national shame
Bhubaneshwar: day of national shame (movement against bonded labour)
Khap panchayats are a national shame

After ploughing through 26 pages of Google search results data, I’m going to give this a rest. And rediscover my optimism tomorrow.