Corruption, congestion, overpopulation, poverty, disorganization, pollution, double standards of politicians and an indifference towards the society, we criticize the country for every flaw it has. And as beneficiaries of this society, I believe everyone should not only harshly criticize these ills but should play his or her part in fixing these gigantic problems. Self-criticism and honest introspection are two of the most fundamental requisites for making any transformation, be it at an individual level or at a societal level. To find the solutions to these predicaments, we don’t have to go half way across the world or even leave the shores of the country. These issues are well rooted within the country (especially within the thought process, living and working styles of the “common man” ) and so are the solutions and remedies.
For today, I will keep the criticism, diagnostic and the damning part of the system on one side and congratulate the country for those few feats that are and should be laudable. I wont talk about individualistic or personal achievements like someone of an Indian origin going to space or some particular Indian born becoming a dean of an elite business school in U.S.A. Rather, I will highlight a few accomplishments as a society that have benefited (directly or indirectly) everyone who has lived in the country, especially in the last 15 years or so. I believe the recognition of these “good things” is not based on any blind or illogical patriotism which I personally detest. In fact, I think one of the easiest things in our country is to make people do dumb things in the name of religion, region or cast. A spade should be called a spade and a bad stuff should be called a bad stuff. Period. But well, I will leave this discussion to some other day and come to the thoughts in context.
These are some of those “few good things” on a larger level that I think are indicative of the ascendance of the country’s global image:
- There was a time when the world knew that the only people living in India were the snake charmers. Now, a lot of that charming stuff has been replaced by a young, globally minded, well educated, well connected, highly mobile, forward looking and an open workforce cladded in business suits (or formals) working in global technology hubs like Bangalore , Pune, Gurgaon and Hyderabad. Working in an office based out of a business park in Bangalore is not different from operating from an office based out in London or Singapore (Stepping out of that building or the business park and facing a messed up city in our country is a different story however).
- There was a time when it took months to get a visa stamped on an Indian passport. Now, it is ( in many cases) just a matter of days.
- We have a morally corrupt “babudom”, inefficient public machinary and absolute idiots running the show but at the very minimum , they have been successful in providing political stability consistently and this stability is indispensable for domestic businesses to boom and foreign firms to establish their bases. A lot of us have build our resume’s and profiles working in these multinationals and consequently reaped life long benefits.
- There was a time when any Indian travelling abroad was assumed to be a taxi/truck driver** or even an illegal immigrant. Today, that image has transformed into an image of a software professional or an Information technology professional. From my own experience of working abroad for an extended period of time, I can vividly remember the first question one local person asked me after I told him that I have just landed from India – “Which I.T company do you work in?”
- The country has a lousy education system and there is no doubt about it. Yet the system has been successful in creating a few first class educational institutions renowned worldwide for their engineering and business excellence. Even outside of this elite group, products of this “not so efficient” educational systems can be found as professors, doctors, engineers, politicians, journalists and scientisits worldwide (with majority based in U.S.A). A quick look on statistics would reveal the percentage of Indians in organizations like Microsoft, NASA and places like Silicon Valley. The point here is not to highlight or read the demo-graphical statistics of these fine entities. Skills and professionalism are the only things that matter when it comes to business and not any demographics. The point in context here is that the stress on education (especially in the middle class families) has spawned a generation that has taken up intellectual positions worldwide and this intellect has subsequently and gradually overhauled the image of the entire nation.
Out of 365 days, we can dissect and criticize all kinds of flaws and hypocrisies that we observe and experience in our society and try to make an effort to correct the things (whenever possible) but I think for at least one day, we should just thank the society and the country for providing those platforms and opportunities that have build our capabilities (at least given a “good enough” starting point) to lambaste the same system.
Happy Independence day and I wish rationality and good sense prevails (both in India and the world) and wins over useless religious superstitions and senseless rituals that can cripple the fabrics of a society.
** I strongly believe that every job or a work profile has a dignity attached to it irrespective of the nature of the work. The opinion expressed with regards to job and work is just based on what used to happen and the general perception.