The idea of India, from Connecticut

Published - April 07, 2015 01:55 am IST

A bus driver in Connecticut told me recently he wanted to rescue India from the cow. I had to stop whatever I was doing and request him to explain. His level of understanding of the problems that face India, his seeming seriousness of purpose to do something about it, and his power of articulation, were impressive indeed. Here is some background.

My husband and I shifted from India to the United States (to Connecticut) in November 2014. We don’t have a car yet, so we mostly rely on the bus and the kindness of people we have met here.

We were returning from a gathering on a rainy day in January 2015. Ours was the last stop for the bus. The driver struck up a conversation, and asked us where we were from. On being told we were from India, the first question he asked was if we worshipped the cow. At a loss of words, we said yes. “Oh! I have to save India from the cow,” he responded.

James Flores was born in Hartford. He grew up in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, and came to the U.S. when he was 18. He joined the U.S. Army and was stationed in Europe. He met a lot of people from India while in Germany and had a first glimpse of what Indian culture was like. He learned two new words there, shukriya and dost. With a dream to help humanity, he became an elected member of the Town Council. He knows Spanish and English as he can easily communicate with multiple sections of the community which has a diverse population. He lives in Willimantic with his wife and two daughters. He is a substitute teacher at the Windham High School and a bus driver for the Windham Region Transit District. He volunteers at a soup kitchen.

His anthem is “Imagine”. His purpose in life is to make the world one: no religion, no caste. He does not like the fact that the concept of untouchability still exists in India. And that some people are still forced to collect human waste with their hands. Honour killings wouldn’t still happen but for the persistence of the caste system. He wishes that the government did something to make India one.

He takes inspiration from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. He believes that “when you want something, the whole universe conspires to make it happen.”

This is how he chooses to save India. He wants Indians to be aware of their own power. Before that, he wants India to be aware of where it is now. India has a fifth of the world’s population but does not have the veto power at the United Nations Security Council? He doesn't know how India will manage to end the environmental pollution and degradation that foreign companies are causing on its land unless it has such a veto power.

A united India will have more power than some of the biggest powers of the world put together. India is divided and media-controlled.

The people themselves are not serious-minded. They are busy making and watching Bollywood movies and American-style television shows. How will India become a developed country if it remains so Americanised? India is losing its individuality. Indians blindly copy American ways without understanding the implications.

Indians are not free, they are still afraid of what other people might think of them. India needs to be brought to the world. For America, India is still known as the land of cows, elephants and snake- charmers. How can you worship the cow but hate another human?

He ended thus: “I want to save India from hatred and bring the 1.3 billion people to the world. Not just that, imagine India with Pakistan and Bangladesh, imagine the brotherhood, imagine the love. Just imagine.”

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