Losing my faith….in Indians
It started as a trickle – I believe in 4th or 5th standard when I realized that kids who went for tuition at Mam’s home always got more marks than I did even though when I compared my answers with the other guy they were invariably identical or better. Later I realized that if you cannot beat them then join them. So I started going for tuition to some of the influential teachers in 11th and 12th standard. I thought that I was through with nepotism and influentism once I reach college which was a professional technical college but I was in for the biggest surprise of my life.
MBM Engineering College, Jodhpur was rife with undercurrents of casteism, nepotism and politics. So if you were a local Brahmin (just an example) from Jodhpur and if your professor for a class was a local Brahmin too then you were set for that class and so on and so forth for most other classes too.
At each and every step of my way – my other encounters just reinforced this belief. Whether it was professional life or personal somehow we Indians just could not deal with each other fairly. And then I came to the US. All of a sudden everything was different. Even though I was from a different country and with a different skin color I was treated much more fairly then I ever was by that grade school teacher or by that professor in college. I assumed this sense of relief was being felt by every other India on the campus and just like me they too would realize how everyone looses in the long term when you rely on favoritism for short term advancement.
Oh! But I was so naïve. I realized that most of us still behaved in pretty much the same way. We always tried to game the system as before and most of the times – Americans who in most cases are very straightforward people were indeed conned. I saw people searching for Graduate Assistantships with vastly inflated resumes – putting in things that they never did or never knew. I saw existing Graduate Assistants helping out only people from their own community, recommending them to their employers over and above other more deserving candidates, I saw people coming from dubious universities with dubious mark sheets and the worst crime of all, I saw Indian TAs (teaching assistants) being partial to [surprise surprise not to all other Indians but only to] people from their own communities.
I am not sure why this has to happen. I agree that when we are in India – we resort to corruption because everyone else is doing it and we do not want someone else to get ahead of us just because he knows the right people or because he can bribe someone to get an admission so we want to do the same as well. But even in other countries – where one can easily survive and do well with hard work and talent we resort to the same tactics, we carry our baggage with us. And then, when we are able to beat the system we smirk that “these Americans are so stupid.” No they are not stupid – they are trusting and trustworthy and we come to their country and take advantage of their trust. How bad are we as a country and as a race?
Of course, generalizations are always bad and this is not to say that every single Desi that I’ve had contact with is the same. But I’ve had far too many enounters to believe that this is a widespread malaise in us and we carry it with us wherever we go.