Yes, something has gone wrong with India over the decades and the rot begins with you and me. We have lost the ability to separate wheat from the chaff !
Life is not Maggie noodles. We are all part of a silly circus to fool anyone and everyone. We as a country are at an inflexion point. We can either swim in the ocean of trivia or exercise greater sagacity and seek a better world.
Years ago a commentator remarking on the critics’ response to the just-released film 36 Chowringhee Lane raised the question as to why people were hailing it in hyperbolic terms and calling it a masterpiece whereas in actuality it was a good enough movie but could hardly qualify as great cinema. Answering his own question the commentator observed that we had got so used to bad films that we over-reacted to something which was even a little better by applauding it as a great achievement.
This is true not only about our reaction to films but to all things. Take the two medals won by Sakshi and Sindhu at the Rio Olympics. Scoring a tally of two medals–a bronze and a silver–is no great shakes for a country with a population of 1.2 billion. Everything – from our political class, our bureaucracy, our civic amenities such as schools and hospitals – are utterly mediocre at best, and abysmally bad at the worst.
We have become so used to the general shabbiness all around us, from garbage-strewn, potholed streets to the endless scams and scandals of public life, that even the smallest glimmer of a silver lining in the dark clouds that surround us is greeted like a God-given boon.
So with our infinite genius for jugaad and notoriously fragile egos, we have put innovation on the back burner. Perpetually Motionless.
Slogans do not make a nation. Nations are made on beliefs and on a way of life. Japan believes in Kaizen and, therefore, has quality at the heart of all it does. We, on the other hand, are ‘kaam chalao’ people. Who cares about the process as long as the job gets done? This is the trait that we will have to exorcise ourselves of.
When I analyse the reasons I come to one conclusive conclusion. Our middle class mentality.
Middle class is not always is a monetary judgement. Middle class is how you think, feel and make judgements about other people, but mostly about yourself. Middle class in India is a mindset. A mindset that looks for stability over enterprise. Continuity over change. A fear of that which could cause society to change.
Middle class is a fear of borrowing money. An arrogance of being debt free. Middle Class mindsets is what banks survive on. Taking low interest deposits from middle class, offerring them a false sense of security, and lending to those not imprisoned by the middle class mind set. Never mind that they would never pay it back.
I have always been middle class and struggled with it. I worked in foreign multinationals , for their sins were unknown to me. They happened so far away that I assumed those sins did not exist. For a while, after the success of my career to an extent which enabled me to buy a 3bhk, I flirted with start-ups and building businesses. I felt like the ball in the Pin Ball machine, unable to settle, and finally thrown back to where I belong. Mostly because inside me, I am middle class. And then I again became a job seeker than a job creator .
Creativity and innovation to me is always a struggle to break our middle class boundaries and barriers. I am sure hundreds will disagree with me, as they should. For I hope they are right. But I do ask them. Why is it that middle class boys and girls that went overseas were more prone to become entrepreneurs and game changers than those that never left the shores of India ? We know that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow after you run innumerable miles to attain glory, but then your middle classness tells you even before you start that a rainbow is nothing more than a trick of light.
I am just so middle class and like Maggi noodles.