Tuesday, December 14, 2010

India; trapped in the remains of colonism and casteism

India; the free spirit, liberated, working fast, achieving faster, smiling, shining and emerging. Yes, this is the definition, we today's Indians prefer to give for our lovely country, an independent India of 63 years almost.

India is the investment interest of all big multinational companies from all over the world, India is one of the biggest markets who can buy arsenals to pain relieving balm from other countries with its own money (driven from public taxes). India understand this interest of others of being a powerful market and is paying enough attention to its infrastructural growth so that all those guests who are coming to invest in India, pamper India should not feel discomfort during their rendezvous with India.  Along the way India might get developed if possible. After all India believes in the philosophy of Vasudev Kutumbkam (Sanskrit for whole world is our friend) and Atithi devo bhava (Sanskrit for guests are our gods). Yes, this is absolutely today's India in few lines. At least the India portrayed to the world. India- the brand, the hub of outsourcing, medical tourism and normal tourism too. This India for me is more a commodity than a home for more that one billion human beings.

Mostly we Indians are happy with this propaganda, after all we are gaining a bit of respect  in international level through this and lots of money which is serving our short term life goals like buying a flat, a car of foreign brand, sending our children to a private school and that's it actually. Sometimes while dining in a modern multi cuisine restaurant chain, or in an evening gathering of few friends with a glass of imported Bordeaux wine, we accept, actually this is not it. India is changing, also quite fast but it is not developing completely or properly. India is like that toddler who has learned to walk recently and is just concentrating on walking faster but does not know the road rules.  Do we leave a toddler alone on the road, as he can walk already? No as we know that the results will be fatal. But for India unfortunately, there are no fingers to be hold, she has to go through that fatal experience to learn to walk properly.

Also the baggage of long term foreigner's rule we had in India (200 hundred years of colonial period and before that too, most parts of then India has been ruled by people from outside India) does persist even now. The feudal system of hierarchy, class and caste is there all over the world; it is a basic human (or animal) instinct to sort things into classes but in India it is very visual some times to an brutal extent. Add on, is India's very own caste system.

The practice of shaking hands for introducing yourself in a formal set up, was never there in India because of different religions and castes and the questions regarding their equality and now although we are trying to go international we actually don't have any ritual for introducing one person with the other officially (may be in corporates they take care of that) but a genuine hand shake which gives a sense of equality and companionship while introducing each other  is unavailable here. So a process of introduction mostly depends on smiles and eye contact, which in a official atmosphere is quite unattractive and cold to start a conversation. At home (or informally) though we have our age old Namaste, and for much older relatives we even touch their feet to seek their blessings.

The system (offices, education, parliament, everywhere) which exists in India today is actually a mix of what has been started by Moghuls and then continued by Englishmen.
For example in Indian Army the ranks are designated with names used in Moghul times  (like havildar, subedar etc) until one level and then the ranks are given English names (Like Major, Lieutenant etc).  I guess, in the time of British Raj, when they were preparing Army  in India to be used for taming Indians they could import the officers bearing English ranks from their country but for the mass of the Army they needed local men, which they got by persuading then Nawabs and Maharajas and they kept their ranks just like that.

This is just one example but if you enter into the web of Indian official systems even now we will find a surprising blend of  British systems with then Moghul era systems.
It can be argued that this is normal, appropriate, as India when newly independent needed a guide book to make its own system, it is understandable. But the problem has started originating only when India (or Indian officials) have not been careful enough to bring improvisations to those rules, with time, according to local needs and demands. After all needs of independent India does not remain same as that of India as a colony of European countries.

The result has been a dramatic dependence of common Indian people on things which by any which mean carry a touch of age old and effective English system. But we have conveniently left all those goodness of that system according to our believes on class and caste. In offices we call each other Sir and Madam, not the surname or for that matter first name also, a trend even invisible in today's UK and on addition we add our own respectful notion of 'ji'! This we but do for people only who are higher in rank/authority to us. For the need of showing so much respect actually we feel damned, and then we show equal amount of disrespect to any one who we know are below us in rank and this chain continues from the top to lower most level. This was there from my childhood, I know this Indian way of working, I never had any regrets, as I did not know any other way of working. 

But when I went out, I saw that things if little differently handled  can bring out better results. 

A sense of equality, at least a trial to make it happen, gives more comfort to people of all levels. Those powerless mass of common people, actually can then make a change, they start the real development needed in a country, for the country, they then one by one start adoring their work and don't take it just as a duty.


  1. This is wellwritten. We really dont judge India's socio economical infrastructure seeing 3/4 big cities like Mumbai,Bangalore Delhi.etc..You dont have to go to remote areas,outskirt of the big city is enough to give you a rough scetch of ...so called developping India..
    Yes the lifestyle has been changed thanks to globalization.but the point of view towards life not..We are in the system where we dont want any change or interference..Because that is our securityzone..The problem is ourself not the society..We speak out sometime about social issues but when it is our turn to prove it we prefer to keep quite.Silently we support cast system and ofcourse religion..,though we raise our voice discussing religious issues in public.
    Another problem is lack of dignity of labour.In western world that is amazing part which I think play the key role of social development..Even I am thankful to school system here in USA.They dont have grading system unlike India .In India teachers pay attention to only few students who stood first second or third.the rest are neglected ,which put your self esteem low from the beginning..as I suffered a lot in the school..
    Still I am optimistic.Slowly our dreams will come true.But we are the people who can change the world.because we have recognized our destiny...........................

  2. So true! We are class and caste obsessed, we accept a system of hierarchy, not equality.

    "...In offices we call each other Sir and Madam, not the surname or ... first name also... This we do only for people who are higher in rank/authority to us."

    "... and then we show equal amount of disrespect to any one who we know are below us in rank and this chain continues from the top to lower most level."

    We really should be learning about equality and dignity and respect for all, children,women, the most under privileged - every one.