Tuesday, May 26, 2009


And in my case, Pati too.

I recently posted a query on Indians on a professional networking site, by way of research for a non-fiction that I am, kind of, working on. Kind of, because the pace is abysmal, the sense of discipline completely lacking and the effort downright shameful. But that's another matter.

Back to the question on Indians. What I asked was non-controversially true but definitely offensive. I, to my innocent mind, felt the points cited were more offensive to the eyes and the sensibilities than to the ears.

While a lot of the responses were intelligent and gave comparable data from other nations; the others wrote back as if they have been struck across the face, personally affronted and belittled. Now, I really wasn't expecting this.

One respondent said that while he agrees that Indians are all this and more, I should not talk about it openly on a global and public forum such as the internet.

However, one Gujju Bhai out of Oklahoma took the cake. If I were to translate his response into Hindi, this is what he said - "Aur tere Baap, Bhai, Bete ka kya?"

Here is my question that is raising hackles with many -

As an Indian I have conflicting emotions for my country and my fellow countrymen. While I am extremely proud on one end, I am sorely ashamed on the other. I invite comments from Indians and the international set on what happens in their country and why?

I am extremely proud of India's history, culture, heritage, democracy, tolerance, festivals, religiosity or rather spirituality, languages, unity in diversity, natural endowments, colours, cuisines, pot pourri of different influences that have confluenced into an unique amalgamation we call India and the other usual suspects.

I am quite ashamed of the other, darker side of the continuum. Sample this -

1. A high percentage of Indians are illiterate or ill educated.
2. A lot of Indian men urinate in public.
3. Poor India defecates in the open.
4. Most Indian men spit in public.
5. A lot of Indians lack civic sense.
6. A lot of hypocrisy besets our attitude.
7. In our general bazaars, there is no honest price. We all need to haggle. But not in branded shops.
8. Most young urban and semi-urban India is rude, impolite and misses on basic etiquette.
9. Many of us deface our historical monuments.
10. We Indians litter our streets and public places.
11. Several Indian men are lecherous and have little respect for women.
12. Most Indian places are not safe for women, particularly in the night.
13. Eve teasing and other forms of harassment against women is rampant in India.
14. We do not preserve their culture and legacy well.
15. We have no driving etiquette.
16. We don't like the concept of queues.
17. We love to break the rules.
18. A lot of Indian offices thrive on politics.

I could add more...............

But at this stage, I'd like to understand from my fellow, literate brethren why we are like this only. And I would appreciate if the global community could give examples from their geographical region.

Further, I am of the strong view that Indians weren't always to be accused of the things I have in my list of 18. Yes, India has had a checkered history - British, Mughals, Aryans, Turks and so on. The young today, blindly ape the West. My agenda is to hold a mirror to ourselves, admit what is wrong (and what was not, traditionally, always so) and rectify it lest we be labelled a race and culture that is known for these very attributes.

India is an emerging democracy with its economy on an upswing and its democratic government going strong. I feel it is up to every individual to make a positive contribution.

And what you do not recognise or accept, you cannot change.

At this point of time I am looking forward to intelligent responses that put into perspective whys and wherefroms of these issues that I have raised. I am not concerned whether it happens in other countries or not. I am hotly bothered about why my country is afflicted with these malaise. Have we, traditionally been so, or have been a victim of myriad influences that have shaped our history. What can we as individuals do to make a difference? Are there positive examples from other countries that we can emulate?

I am proud of India, you see, but ashamed of what Indians have turned it into.

I would welcome your insight on the following -

1. Why do we have these issues in India?
2. What is the genesis of these issues?
3. What are the solutions - education, awareness, government, NGO, individual support etc.?
4. Which other countries have had similar issues and how have they tackled it? For instance, one of the respondents advises me that UK used to have the problem of men urinating in public and they have passed a law against it.

Picture courtesy - www.googleimages.com


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