'I want an India strong, tender and considerate'
'Youth has the power to change whatever it wants. They are the future. Youth has the power to set fire to water,' says champion boxer Akhil Kumar, in Rediff.com's continuing series where well-known Indians speak about the India they love.
I enjoy telling anyone that I am an Indian. The fact that we were born and brought up here makes a huge difference as we associate with it to the fullest.
Our values and culture make this country very unique. Though every nation has its own set of ideals, we have the ability to maximise even when we deal with the bare minimum.
That is a very, very, Indian trait. Also, our religious inclination makes us quite different from any other set of people anywhere in the world.
Despite being so many, and so varied, we have kept the sense of being Indian alive inside ourselves.
There are so many communities, yet we continue to co-exist with a level of understanding that is hard to find.
This makes India a unique amalgamation and Indians an extremely special group.
But we also face some shortcomings. The biggest among them is that we are still reliant on archaic systems that have no place in today's day and age.
Take something like reservations.
How can you ignore merit and put two people, who might be extremely different with regard to their efficiency for a job, and treat them the same?
It is almost like awarding one boxer the bout, despite his opponent doing better, just because he belongs to a certain section of society.
We have to uplift the poor and the needy, but not by creating further lines of segregation amongst ourselves.
I also feel issues like corruption, poverty and a sense of injustice that the common man feels at times should be looked into. It is no easy task, but it needs a guided effort from the people who matter.
In the past we were divided by the British. Let us not repeat the mistake and go on with it. Issues like reservations can, if not tackled now, become insurmountable for us.
I wish to see an India that is progressive, happy and healthy. But more than anything, is resolute and strong in its actions and tender and considerate in its approach.
Youth has the power to change whatever it wants. They are the future.
Youth has the power to set fire to water, but it needs the right guidance to know where to start the fire.
Akhil Kumar won a gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2006, a bronze in the AIBA World Cup 2008 in Moscow and came close to winning a medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He also participated in the popular reality dance show Jhalak Dikhla Ja, season 4.
He spoke to Laxmi Negi.
The complete series: Why I love India
Image: Indian soldiers take part in the rehearsal for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi.
Photographs: Ahmad Masood/Reuters