Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Are we Normal

Last week my staff at the counseling Centre was disgusted to notice tobacco spit on our signboard. This week, it was repeated again. People have the habit to spit tobacco saliva in every nook and corner in this country, but it has to be at least “nook and corner”!! Given that our signage is posted well three feet above the ground level and on beautiful granite tiled wall in an office complex that hosts educational and service organizations, it was difficult to give benefit of doubt to anyone, how much so ever addicted to tobacco and spitting he may be!!! And this is just one of the incidences. Few days back there was shoe imprint on the signage!! Please remember that this victimized sign board is sitting silently three feet above ground on a private property. Patriotism considered, how does one explain any of these under any of the given parameters of love thy countrymen?? Having travelled almost over half the world, I refrain from comparing India with any other nation just to avoid the “what do you think of yourself” glance. But it becomes difficult to turn away your eyes every time you see people throwing all kinds of waste in public places, spitting at every possible place, throwing cigarette stubs right where they stand and the list goes on. Even if I give a consideration to the illiterate poor of this country who lack basic education and amenities, how to tolerate the so called urban elites? The posh washrooms in organizations are usually reeking and wet and stained, just outside the work place and beautiful houses there are heaps of foul smelling garbage, vehicles are parked in the most haphazard manner with no consideration for the other road users, every single person whether a pedestrian or a rider or a driver considers his/her birth right to occupy the very centre of the road, to block the left turns, to cut across speeding vehicles, to run through traffic signals…Hey! Is this all Normal? And then we take pride in criticizing the authorities in swish parties where we leave another heap of garbage and tell tale signs of our drunken rendezvous. I insist my children to take every piece of wrappers and shreds to garbage disposals, I have seen few more parents do that, but most still are worried about having clean cars and homes at the cost of public places. I do not know how you look at this, but I really feel the need to check out- Are we a normal country, to witness and tolerate and turn a blind eye towards everything around us and even contribute?


  1. I am probably going to write a comment here which is going to longer than your blog (well, like my comments on your other posts, so what’s new!).

    Is everything you describe normal? Absolutely! Does it need to change? Ditto! Change it will, in time...Modern India has been independent only for about 61 years now. Our parents, who were either babies during the independence struggle or were just born in Independent India, grew up listening to glorious stories of how their earlier generation fought the British Establishment. But when they grew up, they struggled to grasp the concept of Independent India and what it meant, what they had to do. They grew up thinking that fighting the establishment meant glory. I see this anti-establishment mentality in my generation too. The Government is the establishment so let us burn buses and trains, the company we work for is the establishment so let us not think twice before wasting its resources or taking it for a ride…the establishment exploits us so let us fight it and exploit it…

    It will take another generation before the deep rooted "anti-establishment" mentality is wiped clean from the Indian psyche. I see the clean-up happening already, in pockets, very slowly but surely. Independent India is all but 61 years young. I subscribe to CK Prahalad’s theory of India @ 75 but a key point he highlights in his theory is we must work on “moral leadership”. This is a direct quote from his India @75 vision –

    “A nation does not get rich first and then become less corrupt. A nation becomes less corrupt before it gets rich. The explicit, quantifiable price we are paying for corruption and the neglect of human resources in the country is staggering and should be the focus of national debate.”

    Stinky bathrooms can be cleaned up, smelly garbage can be picked up. Loss of $20 Trillion per annum due to corruption is the problem to solve. $20 Trillion per annum? Mind boggling, isn’t it? Think of that when you slip a 100 rupee note to a cop to get away with breaking the law! Another direct quote from CK’s India @ 75 –

    “As a country, India must have high and shared aspirations like it had in 1929 when the leaders of the then Congress party declared their ambition as Sampoorna Swaraj. Since then, India has never had a national aspiration which every Indian could share.”

    I think this national aspiration needs to be elimination of corruption.

    Coming back to your blog, I think the statement “Even if I give a consideration to the illiterate poor of this country who lack basic education and amenities, how to tolerate the so called urban elites?” is rather presumptuous. My observation of the “poor and illiterate” is to the contrary. I have found the poor and the uneducated of India to be law-fearing when they know the law, less corrupt, believers of due process and have faith in the system of justice. Go to any court of law in this country and you will find the poor with complete belief that justice will be done, waiting endlessly outside for their day in court while they are taken for a ride by the educated lawyers. The poor of this country believe in Independent India. They don’t proclaim to be proud Indians by clicking links on internet websites, heck they don’t feel the need to proclaim that they are proud to be Indian. They are Indians and they believe in India. It’s as simple as that for them.

    Instead of picking small battles with people’s mindsets, I believe our time, efforts and energies should be channeled into winning the war on corruption. We can win that war by understanding that the establishment is us. By understanding that we are burning our hard-earned money when we burn buses and trains. As CK says, corruption should be treated equivalent to treason. It is that serious a crime. That is what is holding India back. Mindsets will change, people will change…they will have to.

  2. Yep! We are very much normal. I agree that our habits, manners and etiquettes suck at every level. But that's India and we are Indians. I believe, that probably, exposure to such kind of an environment makes us deal with unwanted situations in a better manner. This makes us better managers in any given field and increases our adaptability levels.

    I definitely do not support such kind of activities, but then as Jay said Change it will, in time...

    BTW, if you someone again messes with your signboard, just add a note there saying "Please excuse me today!" Hopefully that should end this act.