Sunday, February 03, 2013

Five Things I Like to See Differently in India

For India to progress as a nation there are so many things that need to be done differently and here is a list of five of them that needs to be addressed sooner than later.
No More Evil Customs and Traditions
We have come a long way from the custom of practicing Sati. But more needs to be done. There are still lot of things done in the society in the name of “Custom” that is so outdated that we need to put an end to. Recently I went to a marriage of one of my friends and what I saw there was shocking. The bride’s parents have to buy stuff to fully furnish a new house and that has to be exhibited on the day of marriage. Now all those who come for the marriage after greeting the bride and groom will go to see the stuff the bride’s parents have brought for the groom. From kitchen utensils to multiple air conditioners to cars will be there for exhibition and later taken to groom’s house. I was told the way this works is groom’s father hands over the list to bride’s father who makes sure that the list is fully taken care of on the day of the wedding! We say giving dowry is prohibited by law in India and these kinds of things still happen in India. It is high time we stop following things in the name of custom and tradition.
Equal Respect for All Jobs
One of the most important things I learned during my stay in US – give equal respect to all jobs and people doing those jobs. In India for example a driver or janitor is always looked upon as someone doing a menial job and never respected. The people who are supposedly doing menial job are almost always ill treated. This has to change and all of us should learn to respect every job. The person doing the so called “menial job” may not have been fortunate to earn a college degree like me or you but he is expert in the area where he is working just like you or me. This change in attitude is very much needed if India needs to progress into a developed country.
United India
During our school days we have learned “Unity in Diversity” about India. But are we united in true sense? There is divide between North and South India, divide based on language, religion, states to name few. If you want to understand the hatred that exists go to some online forums or comment sections of some popular websites like rediff. Even in the last 4 months in my new job, what I am seeing is that there is not much interaction among the students from North and South India. Being a teacher in a school that has students from all over India, looking around you could clearly see the divide based on region. With culture and language so different in each state it is tough to agree on all the issues but it is time we throw away the regionalism from our mind for the good of India.
Cleaner and Greener India
Let us accept the fact – India is getting more and more polluted day by day and it is the duty of every citizen who loves India to take steps in their own life to arrest this trend. If the environment gets polluted and degraded at this alarming rate, India as a nation has no future. The painful thing is that even those people who know the implication of pollution are not ready to change their lifestyle to reduce the pollution happening around them. If we don’t take corrective measures now in another two decades, the progress of India as a nation will be highly hampered due to the uncontrolled environmental pollution and destruction happening around us.
Equal Rights and Respect for Women
In paper, Yes, the women in India have equal rights and respect. But in reality is that the case? During nights in India you rarely see any women traveling alone. Why? Some may argue it is our culture and crap like that but the main reason is she feels insecure to travel alone during nights in India. In US my wife used to go alone for shopping even at mid night driving the car and she never felt anything odd in that even though it was an alien country for us. Back in India, she is not comfortable going out alone even around 8 pm in the night even though it is her own country. Now India as a nation cannot progress until half of its population feels that they have all the rights and respect as their counterparts not only in paper but also in practice.
Let me conclude this piece by what a farmer recently told me. I stayed with one of my friend’s parents in Madurai few days back. They have some agricultural land and they earn a living by cultivating rice for ages. Since their daughter is in US, they have lived close to one year in US and are familiar with the way things happen in US. When I met them at their house in Madurai, they told me that they decided not to do any planting this year. The reason was that government gave approval for a big multinational mining company very close to their agricultural land and they started mining that went over 400 feet. The wells, the farmers depended on for water were around 100 feet deep and once the mining company started digging 400 feet deep, all these wells went dry. My friend’s parents were helpless as they don’t have any place to go and complain. My friend’s mother was telling me, “We in India only think of today and not about tomorrow. We use our resources as if there is only “Today” and no “Tomorrow”. What I like in US is that they use resources “today” after fully thinking about “tomorrow”. It is time for people of India to start thinking about tomorrow and not about today”. I fully agree with her.
Yes, let us make the necessary changes today so that we will have a better tomorrow!
This post is a part of Weekend contest at BlogAdda.com in association with
Chanakya's New Manifesto

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11 Comments:

Blogger Jennifer said...

Brijesh, You have bought out so many good thoughts. In fact, each thought can be it's own post!

Of course I have my two rupees to add! :)

Respect for Jobs:
This goes both ways. The society has to respect the janitor, but the janitor has to respect himself and realize his job IS important and take it seriously. I actually did my thesis on street sweepers in Chennai. People do take their job seriously, but they did not always think their job is important.
Second example, I had friends in Chennai that had a maid. They owned a big, single family house. They asked the maid to enter through the front door. They did not like her coming through the back door. So, even though they tried locking that door, she refused to work if she couldn't enter the backdoor. Her reasoning was that if the other maids knew she was being treated so well, she'd be shunned or it would look bad to her in someway. I see her point- it's hard to stand out in a community. No one wants to be the sore thumb or be looked at as one. But the thought has to go both ways.

United India:
Well....I wondered this since I started learning about India in the 90s. In some ways I understand why people become over proud of region, language, traditions, etc. It's a way of identifying one self- but then when it becomes overwhleming- who does this identity hurt most? In fact the very identity that one overidentifies with hurts oneself not helps. This is not only true in India's regional sense but in all senses all over the world- when we over identify with a LABEL we put on ourselves we do not really know how to identify ourselves as human beings. The labels tear us apart rather than bind us.

September 09, 2010 12:54 PM  
Blogger Jijo V.G said...

Hummmm, Intersting...Out of boix thinking....
There are lot of things we can learn from other contries, even I do believe they too have the same...

September 09, 2010 3:34 PM  
Blogger Prasanna said...

Nair,
Good post. The lack interaction between the north and south indians is also evident to a certain extent even in universities in the US. I saw this especially as a south indian who cannot converse fluently in Hindi.
I cannot agree with you more on the fact that people like the janitors, maids etc., are not treated well in india.

I would also like to add a couple more changes :
- changes to police system so that people can go to them without fear of being harassed. This is something that is impressive in the west.

- more stringent punishments to the so called "moral-policemen" who bar hop to drag boys/girls out and beat them in the name of preserving our culture.

September 09, 2010 9:18 PM  
Blogger Brijesh Nair said...

Jennifer,
Nice thoughts. What you told about janitor and maid is so true. That may be due to the years of neglect those people have to face.

Jijo,
There are lots of good things to be learned

Prasanna
North - South divide I see almost every day here which according to me is not at all good.

September 09, 2010 9:30 PM  
Blogger jpk said...

All these are good points!!
About the respect for jobs, it is more so because of the income disparities of these jobs and because of the inherent culture from the days of Kings. It will change in the long run.
North-South divide will be a the most felt in Tamil Nadu, because of the problem of Hindi language as Prasanna pointed out, even though it is there everywhere. Without means to communicate, it is going to be difficult.

September 10, 2010 12:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You will not be the best boy in Kerala where PFI reigns supreme. Guard yourself. They may be round the corner....???
God bless
Dr. O. P. Sudrania

September 10, 2010 10:58 AM  
Blogger Binoy Warrier said...

Rbijesh,
wonderful piece. Very good and valid points. Regarding the natural resources part, the US went down the wrong path during the Bush era. Mining companies and other polluters had a free reign to do what they want, which is hurting us (in the US) right now.

India is a couple of generations away from being a power to reckon with. India has made giant steps in the world economy, but is still being dragged down by the abject poverty that exists there.

When Indian people visit India from the US, many only see (or want to see) the 'affluent' part of India, with the cars, computers, big houses, electronic equipment, money, etc. They rarely acknowledge the poverty that exists all around them when they visit India.

Just my rambling thoughts :)

Binoy
Arizona

September 14, 2010 6:38 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Binoy, You have bought out a salient point. India can be the land of extremes from a foreigner's point of view. I can see how a local may see a foreigner as experiencing only luxury while staying at 5 star hotels and being picky about food and water. The other side is also there... coming to see the abject poverty. Rarely people come to see daily life of the average Indian be it in any strata of the social-economic ladder. I appreciate the experience I had in India because I was able to experience living with people from all the stratas and even in my own country (USA) I would never get that opportunity.

I guess the other side of this is that when people are on vacation or touring, they want to forget the ills or stresses of daily life- so why go on tour to experience the hardships when vacation is meant to escape that- and stresses and hardships are relative to each person's situation.

PS That being said of course many foreigners come to India for the spiritual side- which also can be a skewed view of India....anything taken out of context can be skewed (aka seeing an American on tv holding a gun thinking All Americans must own guns, etc etc)

September 14, 2010 12:37 PM  
Blogger Brijesh Nair said...

Binoy,

Thanks. Yes your points are very valid. We all talk about India being the next super power. That can happen only if we can take care of the poverty. I fully agree with your observation – People when they come for a short visit to India never sees the “real” India

Jennifer
If I understood what you have written I think you misunderstood what Binoy has written. He was not mentioning about a foreigner coming to India but an Indian coming for a short visit to India and he often overlooks the gloomy part of India.

September 14, 2010 10:26 PM  
Blogger Mixi said...

Dignity of Labour is a concept that we in India are sadly unfamiliar with. A very valid point if we are to become a better, more honest, more effective and more professional country headed into the next decade.

The North-South divide, as well as the whole "Northeast is a separate India" concepts are particularly jarring, and dangerous.

We are already dealing with forces outside the country who are working hard to divide us in the name of religion, but even they are not as effective as we ourselves are, with our own bias and narrow-mindedness.

Some very salient points in your post that need solutions at the earliest!

Congrats on your win!

February 15, 2013 12:22 PM  
Blogger Manjulika pramod said...

Well written.. United India is something that I really want to see.
A mere issue (mole-like) is turned into a mountain because we are all divided in here, we have different views and we love trying to pinpoint each other.. thus divide and rule policy continues to thrive.

February 15, 2013 2:34 PM  

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