Tomatina India
To me, India is not one country but a “theme & ideology” under which many countries stay together. The demography, psychography, and even economy changes in each 500kilometers. We have more than 200 languages, varied cultures, rituals, and societies. Even the religious beliefs for each religion are diversified (even within same religion). It is actually very tough to create one movement pan-India.

Interestingly, we do have common AIOs (Youth segment) for few factors, one of which is the hatred against the politicians and bureaucrats. The “Anna team” (the team behind anti corruption movement in India) understood it well and created the movement successfully. This is the first-ever post-independent movement in India which appealed to all the youth in India across the demography, culture, class, economy and social barrier. The team successfully promoted it through alternative media, word-of-mouth, open press, radio stations to gather support. The government was bent, finally.

zindagi-na-milegi-dobara-posterOn the other hand, we have the “Other India” that lives in socio-cultural Utopia and dreams of being “exotic” within this very country. For example, in the wake of a popular Bollywood movie which glorified Spain through its crap story, half-Indian actress, and a six-fingered hero, the “La Tomatina” came to India. The original La Tomatina festival was a yearly event that was started in Spain to overcome the over-production of tomatoes and reincarnate Spanish tourism. However, this event is now being enthusiastically “copied” as a “social activity” by some enthusiasts in Bangaluru and Delhi! The fetish for being “westernized” is rooted so deep in our genes that we fail to recognize the price of a tomato (in India) vis a vis the hungry Indians. (In the original La Tomatina in Spain, the tomatoes come from Extremadura, where they are less expensive and are grown specifically for the holidays, being of inferior taste!) Or, is this actually a fetish for showing off the power of money to the “other India;” a fetish that is growing in monstrous proportion in cities like Bangaluru and Delhi: “See, I can smash so many tomatoes…which you might never have eaten in your life.”

It’s unfortunate that we, being Indian, fail to understand that this country is culturally rich enough to arrange or re-invent any mode of social activity (which is fit for our demography) rather than merely copying others. A socio-cultural activity such as “Holi” (which unfortunately became religious, later) was designed by our forefathers to initiate the social network and social belonging, spreading happiness and peace—the same purpose that La Tomatina has in Spain. The most common disease in “India.inc” is living in a socio-cultural Utopia, which many youth relish every day. When these daydreams break, though, they land back in the smokey, polluted, poverty ridden, class-barricaded roads of modern India.

Read more about Indian youth culture on Kaustav’s blog, Ingene Insights.

Ed. Note: The event was later cancelled due to public criticism and the government’s refusal to grant permission.