Sometimes we underestimate ourselves. It takes a foreigner to put into perspective what a great people we really are and our tremendous achievement in the face of what appear to be insurmountable odds. Let us hope we can continue to remain the peaceful and tolerant people we
have been through history. When fanaticism and fundamentalism rear their ugly heads in our country we must realize that they are the exception and not the rule. If we stop to compare ourselves with our neighbors and the rising intolerance and xenophobia in even developed nations such as the U.S..A., we should be truly grateful to be living in India.
New York Times reader comment on India going to the polls, "The world's biggest exercise in democracy" April 15, 2009 It is truly the greatest show on Earth, an ode to a diverse and democratic ethos, where 700 million + of humanity vote, providing their small part in directing their ancient civilization into the future. It is no less impressive when done in a neighborhood which includes de-stabilizing and violent Pakistan, China, and Burma. Its challenges are immense, more so probably than anywhere else, particularly in development and fending off terrorism -- but considering these challenges and its neighbors, it is even more astounding that the most diverse nation on Earth, with hundreds of languages, all religions and cultures, is not only surviving, but thriving.
The nation where Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism were born, which is the second largest Muslim nation on Earth; where Christianity has existed for 2000 years; where the oldest Jewish synagogues and Jewish communities have resided since the Romans burnt their 2nd temple; where the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile reside; where the Zoroastrians from Persia have thrived since being thrown out of their ancient homeland; where Armenians and Syrians and many others have to come live; where the Paris-based OECD said was the largest economy on Earth 1,500 of the last 2,000 years, including the 2nd largest only 200 years ago; where 3 Muslim Presidents have been elected, where a Sikh is Prime Minister and the head of the ruling party a Catholic Italian woman, where the President is also a woman, succeeding a Muslim President who as a rocket scientist was a hero in the nation; where a booming economy is lifting 40 million out of poverty each year and is expected to have the majority of its population in the middle class, already equal to the entire US population, by 2025; where its optimism and vibrancy is manifested in its movies, arts, economic growth, and voting, despite all the incredible challenges and hardships; where all the great powers are vying for influence, as it itself finds its place in the world.
Where all of this is happening, is India, and as greater than 1/10 of humanity gets ready to vote, it is an inspiration to all the World.
- V Mitchell, New York, NY