I am an Indian with Birth rights!

 

Traffic2Lokmanya Tilak had said, “Swarajya is my birthright, and I shall have it”! Swarajya is self-government. Tilak had said this when the Britishers were ruling India. As a society, we take certain sayings by great men like Tilak seriously, especially when it suits us. This morning I went for my morning walk and enjoyed the lovely weather. Near our home there is an excellent and broad street with trees; most of the establishments on the street are commercial. Hence at 5.30 in the morning, it is an ideal road for a walk. Suddenly, I saw that there was a cluster of 50 to 70 motorcycles and about a hundred plus young men. I had seen them yesterday too, but I thought maybe they are meeting there to start a walk or run a race!

But today I saw a truck, and there was lighting on the footpath that could be seen from a distance. I thought that there could be some film shooting taking place. But when I went near, I saw that there were heaps of milk pouches manufactured by six or eight different companies. Total milk lying on footpath must have been about five hundred litres. At Rs.40/ litre its cost would be Rs. Twenty thousand, and per month billing would be Rs. Six lacs or 0.6/ million and per year turnover of Rs. 7.2/ million. Not bad! But the gentleman who was running the show was using a public place to run a biggish business. At that time of the day, no authorities would be awake to check this misuse! It was the business man’s birthright as an Indian citizen.

One aside in this story. After the milk was distributed, all the used plastic bags  employed as bulk carriers were strewn on the road. After all, it is the job of the corporation to clean the streets. As against we have seen that the Japanese are assigned separate sections to watch world cup football matches. After the game, the Japanese clean their whole stand of kachra before departing.

Near my home, on the main street, an ice cream vendor occupies about 250 square foot of road and footpath area to run his ice cream parlour, chairs and all for customers. He is there between 6 pm to 11 pm, on a crowded road. He has six to eight ice cream parlours all over Pune. This location must have been his first “parlour” established on public property as he lives nearby (he must have put it up initially as a small-time businessman). Though his business has grown large, he continues with his birthright of using public property. The anti-encroachment team of the corporation are, of course, not “aware” of the misuse.

The Indian government has made it mandatory for people to build toilets inside homes as a prerequisite to stand for any election. People have taken it seriously and built the toilets. But some manly, macho people still use their fields for the morning ablutions. They feel that it is stupid to use a toilet for the purpose. Birthright?

I started thinking of many such birthrights that we assume are granted to us by the constitution.

  • Spit anywhere and everywhere
  • I have seen many people especially drivers of buses and taxis, who rinse their mouth with water from their water bottles and spit it out! Why can’t they drink the water instead of spitting on roads?
  • There are shopping areas in cities. Government and armed forces officers and their families go for purchases. The entire road is a no-parking zone for four-wheelers. But the owners of cars ask the drivers to park on the road and wait there. Why can’t they ask the drivers to park the vehicles in designated areas elsewhere and call the drivers when they are done?
  • When a small businessperson starts his/her business without following rules, it is not justified but understandable. But as they start occupying footpaths and roads in connivance with officials, it is not fair to others. The statement that they are poor people etc. does not justify misuse at all.
  • A small percentage of people break traffic rules, the world over. We as a society do this in bulk. If there is traffic signal failure in the main junction, we create gridlock of vehicles in such a way as if there is no tomorrow. I have seen in many countries where intersections are without traffic signals, but traffic moves smoothly. I had shared a story with you sometime back about a Chartered Accountant, originally from Delhi living in Sydney, Australia. When he was asked why he was so thrilled to go home to Delhi? He said, “I feel claustrophobic here. I am looking forward to going to  Delhi so that I can jump traffic signals, at least 30/40 times!” Amen, God Bless!
  • Our so-called educated brethren chewing beetle leaf (Paan) consider it their birthright to spit in any corner, on the staircases, on roads. They feel that if they spit in corners, it’s ok! It is the same as the dogs use the poles to do you know what!
  • Some birthrights are specially conferred city wise. Our Pune people have added non-compliance of helmet rules as their primary duty while on city roads. They will find various methods of breaking the law. They hang their helmets on bikes on the mirror handle. When they reach near an intersection, they stop and put on the helmet to avoid fine. Some organisations have made it mandatory to wear helmets while coming to office. Our friends follow the same method. Just before they reach the destination, they put on the helmet as the rules do not allow entry without a helmet.
  • There is an interesting story of a highly educated surgeon. He was travelling on his son’s scooter, and at an intersection, he stopped on a zebra crossing. A few days later his son told him while having morning tea, about how the police had fined the son. The son said, “Daddy, you seem to be the only one standing on a zebra crossing that day. Police cameras have sent a photo to me. I paid Rs.200/ fine today morning.” Our surgeon friend was livid. “How can the police make me pay the fine?” I am a renowned surgeon blah blah!” His son said, “Dad, come on, it is system driven. Cameras caught you, and since it was my bike I got the photo”! But our friend was justifying this to his group of friends and said that he would never go by that road etc. When his friends suggested not to stand on a zebra crossing in future, he gave a nasty look to his friend!

What is so unique that we behave this way? What could be the reasons? DNA? I don’t care attitude? Fundamental lack of sense of discipline? What is it? Lack of fear of the authorities?

We seem to be proud of our exotic chaos, we are proud of all the dirt spread around us. And that’s why foreigners flock to see us. They have never seen such confusion anywhere in the world, so they come here to shoot movies showing the worst of us and go on to bag Oscars for depicting Indian at its ‘best’.

And then, we blame our politicians for how corrupt they are. When we are so undisciplined, so selfish (ignoring public property to suit personal comfort, needs a term worse than selfish), then how can we expect them to be ideal? I think we deserve the corruption in bureaucracy and politics we are facing today. Our politicians are as selfish and undisciplined as we are. We then even blame our youth for brain-drain, I think there is nothing wrong in escaping this mass indiscipline if one has better options abroad.

Friends, any suggestions? Do you know specific reasons why we behave the way we do? Let us discuss it, no point in ignoring any further!

False Pride 1!

My friend Ravi and I were chatting about overall situation in India. As usual the discussion came to the question, why no areas in India look like areas in any developed country? Every city has its own Harlem, China town, Dharavi and such tough areas. In most developed countries they manage to hide these areas from out of town people. Those who live in the same city would obviously know about such area. These areas are what can be described as “Fact of Life”. But in India even in Non-Dharavi parts of cities, are seriously deficient. It may be public toilets, it may be roads in posh areas, railway stations, bus stations. What is it that we are lacking? Where is India deficient?  

We are doing great in IT, ISRO, Motorcycles, and we are trying to improve ease of doing business in India. These achievements can make every Indian proud. India’s road network is improving, Metros are coming to different cities. Airports are being modernized as are many other places. We have a very large population; if used properly, it can be a great asset! Improvements are seen in the field of Agriculture. Our economy is growing at a brisk pace. Still I don’t feel great from within. Why is this happening?  

I feel that all improvements are negated by attitude of overall population. We have ministers who declare in public forum that Darwin’s theory is bogus. We had a lot of ruckus created about a movie which is based on an undocumented 700 years old history. Nobody knows anything about that history. Everything is hearsay! But some Ku Klux Klan type of organizations have offered a booty of Rs.20/ million plus to cut off the nose and ears of the lead actress! How is the actress connected with this? She is just doing her job based a role offered to her! The producer and director are producing this movie based on their interpretation of the historical fiction. This ruckus wasted a lot of time of Supreme Court, putting pressure on local security forces due to uncertain situation in many states. Does this status make you proud? 

Yesterday, we had our alumni annual get together. We first met at our college boat club. Nostalgia and the tea served in the canteen went hand in hand. Some of us had not visited the boat club since 1971! We enjoyed our cuppa in plastic cups! To our horror we found that at 3 to 4 crumbled cups were thrown on the ground. We are supposed to be elite engineers from elite 150-year-old college! Did this make us proud?  

I had shared with you a story about a doctor who is our contemporary. When he was caught stopping, on his two-wheeler, at a signal on a zebra crossing. When he was fined by an automated system he was livid! I had shared with you a story about a trained Chartered Accountant of Indian Origin, living in Sydney. His idea of fun after going to India on a holiday was to break traffic signals 30/40 times! There is story from England of a group of Indian origin people living in the same town. They were from one village in India. One of them dialed a number in India, then turn by turn they talked with their relatives. Total call duration was 8 hours. When the person received the next bill, he promptly raised a complaint. He claimed, “Yes, we do sometime talk for 15/20 minutes, but 8 hours call indicates that there is a technical error”! The phone company promptly removed their 8-hour call from the bill. Do these stories make us proud?  

Most of the stories I shared above are about the so called educated, elite people from our Bharat Desh! Unless these basic behavior changes, how can India improve? I read a statement somewhere. A country is considered developed, when rich people travel in public transport. This happens in UK where Ministers and MP’s go to parliament by tube. Though a lot of good things are happening in India, we as a society are always looking to cheat, break laws with impunity. If govt officials try to implement law, they are threatened and sometimes beaten. The most famous statement on Delhi road is, ” Do you know who my father is?”  Very rarely an influential  parent will allow the law to take its own course against their children, even if a murder is involved.   

Sometime back, I had read a story about Police Commissioner of Tel Aviv. He was found talking on cell phone while driving. The policeman on duty, asked him to stop and fined him. When he read the person’s name on the license, he realized that the person was his biggest boss. Commissioner paid the fine. Couple of hours later the policeman was called to Commissioner’s office. Policeman was worried but on reaching there, he was awarded a certificate for exemplary work! Recently, a couple of ministers were photographed, driving two-wheelers, during a political rally, without a helmet. City police are afraid to even discuss making a police case out of the incident! Does this make us proud?  

Gadkari

A lover boy wanted to meet his fiancé who was in transit at an airport. He forged an old ticket and entered the transit area somehow. While coming out he was found and arrested. Why he did this? Why break laws, forge a ticket without fear?  

We can find examples galore. These examples just show that on one side we talk of great old Indian civilization but we are not afraid break laws, throw muck around, do what we want. We always want to cut corners. With all such acts, is there any benefit? No there is absolutely no benefit. Then why do we do it? Superiority complex? Superior to what? Does place in authority or having a little extra money give us moral rights to do whatever we want? Do these acts not inconvenience others in the society? Are rules and laws not same for everybody irrespective of your station in the society? Why there is a porter given to ministers to take their hand baggage into an airplane? Is it so difficult? Which law says that it is allowed?  

Friends, I will be sharing and discussing more about Indian mentality,  regularly. Please share your thoughts and give suggestions. Let us all work together and make ours a great nation. It is doable. All should simply behave like normal humans. All the high posts, minister ships are temporary. Why an army car or a police vehicle halts on a no parking road? Are those using such vehicles with buttery legs? Can’t their drivers park their vehicles in parking zone and come back to pick up, when work is done. We as society treat these misdemeanors as rights and feel proud. Let’s go away from such false pride! The day we start feeling ashamed of such behavior, India will be on the mend.

                                                                      Jaihind!  

 

Long Live India!

India is a country of paradoxes. More you get to know about it the more you will get perplexed! I am born and brought up in India and all my life I have lived in India. I always think and feel that I know a lot about India. But I have realized that I hardly know about thought processes going on India. Some acts & traits of people can be said to be because of too much poverty or too much money! I thought that I am generally able to classify things! But it appears that if I appear for a test about Indian way of behaving or reactions, I will fail miserably. 

My friend Suresh who lives in Sydney, Australia told me a story. I was simply stunned after I heard the story! Their neighbours in Sydney are of Indian origin. A 30-year old person from that family, a Chartered Accountant by training, met him. He told my friend, “I am going to India for a holiday”, so Suresh said, “Have fun”! Suresh asked him where will he take his fun filled holiday, in India. The guy said, “First thing that I am going to do is to the break traffic signals at least 30/40 times. I feel claustrophobic due to the disciplined and organized way of life in Australia.” Suresh said, “You can do it here too, as many times as you want.” The guy said, “Here I will lose my license, is it not?” 

What do you say of such guys? Educated, living in foreign rich country, his idea of having fun in India is to break traffic signals 30/40 times. How to react to such statements? I am numb! I always thought that Indian diaspora living in foreign countries will add to betterment and disciplined behavior in India because they live day in and day out in disciplined society! With such obnoxious thought processes, ISRO’s achievements are brought to the earth with a thud! What will you do with digital and progressive India? Progressive India is a myth one feels! What is the use of making world’s largest biometric individual id system? One really feels disheartened.  

But I always feel, that at heart, Indians do not want to follow basic discipline. Take simple case of round abouts, a square with no signals! In the US, I have seen that at such round abouts, traffic is always smooth as ALL follow discipline and go by the rule of right of way! In India, we follow the method of might of way! If there is a jam with this method, two wheelers will simply go on footpath! What would you call such behavior? Why do these things happen? There appears to be a production line consistency of people who simply break all possible rules. Somebody said that this is because of migration in India from villages to cities! But what about our migrants living in Sydney?  

The caricature below depicts the skew thinking of Indian populace. Since the dialogue is written in Marathi, I will explain. The father asks his daughter, what happened with the boy you were courting? Love at second sight? She says that she had almost decided to chuck him, when she first saw him,  as he always chewed tobacco and spit on the road. The father is relieved but then she says that second time I saw him, she finally decided to marry him because she saw him spitting from his fancy brand new Audi!  

 TobaccoAudi

Another caricature below displays a lady talking to her friend. She says that she was to give a speech on Anti-Superstition. But on the way a black cat crossed her path hence she returned back. 

 BlackCat

Caricatures are meant as sarcastic or satiric remarks on situations. In real life, these sorts of things are so predominant, that it does not remain a caricature anymore but becomes the real-life depiction of the way things are happening in our society. Money over rides everything including bad social etiquettes. We may preach things about superstition but when it comes to personal behavior, we will follow the superstition path! I live in an eleven-story high-end condo; one of my cars is always in the uncovered parking. Every day, on this car I either find pieces of bread or rice. The balcony of one of the condos is living quarter for their pet dogs! So, my car knows every day what the dog eats. If I park my car at another open space, it will be covered with a lot of water and clay! Somebody waters their plants in the balcony but feels that my car also needs water and clay on its roof! What do you say about such people?  

Recently, in the state of Rajasthan, a Hindu man killed a Muslim man, a jilted lover of his wife. Then he burnt that man’s body and took video film and shared it on social media. Police action started but suddenly the social media became active to support the man! Not the murdered man but the murderer! Can you believe it? People wanted to support the murderer! They even collected a few lacs of Rupees to give to the wife of murderer, as he was in jail. There is a video evidence of what has happened and yet the people want to support the murderer. People started using WhatsApp and FB to collect a big crowd to protest on behalf of the murderer! Government had to shut down Social Media in those areas to avoid ugly scenes. Any comments?  

Honestly, I am a very positive guy and think very positively about India. I am proud of our culture, sub culture, cross cultures! We are very large sized European Union and our eating habits, cultures, the way we look are vastly different. Normally, we live peacefully. But it is the incidents mentioned above and especially about the educated Indian from Sydney that my faith is shaken. When I sleep over this blog, I will definitely come out of the melancholy mood I am in! Tomorrow morning when I see the lovely atmosphere with hills in the background and birds flying, I will back to normal! Long Live India!