Losing my faith….cont’d

It is common in India to see paan residue being spit all over the place or people throwing out their garbage in the open. Of course – one cannot do such things in the US, at least not in places where there are enough American around. But leave us alone in the secure company of other Indians and our civic sense takes a free fall. When everyone around us is a desi then why bother with niceties like keeping the area clean. Glaring and blaring example is Devon Avenue in Chicago.

Here are some more examples of how we lack even the basic civic courtesies. I rent DVDs from Netflix – but invariably, DVDs of Hindi movies even new ones are dirty or scratched; sometimes on the verge of being unplayable. Why? Because when we get them we probably think that it is just a rental DVD and do not take good care of it.

When I rent a tape of Hindi movie from the local grocery store, tapes are never ever rewound. They are always at the end of the movie.

You might say that these are small things and I am nit picking – but these small things show our national character which simply speaking is just pathetic.

Losing my faith….in Indians

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.

Smells like Emergency?

The Pioneer is furiously asking in today’s editorial if the incidents of the past two weeks in Jharkhand and Bihar do not remind one of 1975 and Indira Gandhi’s shenanigans during emergency?

I am not sure if they do and frankly, I don’t give a damn. Why? Well imposition of emergency lead to a mass movement against Indira Gandhi and her coterie. It was a real mass grass roots movement with people from all walks of life participating in it. But when you consider the fact that leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav are the by products of JP movement you do not feel very hopeful, do you? So even if what is going is similar to the emergency in 1975 and even if it leads to another mass movement against the current Congress government-what are the alternatives? Frankly speaking-barring a few leaders I do not find BJP to be any different than Congress.

So now Shibu Soren has been forced to resign and Arjun Munda will be sworn in as Chief Minister of Jharkhand. But who was the winner? Not the people of Jharkhand. Yes there will be huge parties and dances to the rhythm of drumbeats at the party office of Munda-but I doubt anyone else in Jharkhand or for that matter in the country is feeling that it will make any difference on the ground.

The House that Sonia Built

It would have been almost comical were the consequences for the country had not been so serious. Yes, I am talking about the great Indian secular media posturing.

After the sordid power plays in the galleries of Goa, Bihar and Jharkhand were played out and it was hard to hide that the scriptwriter, producer and director were handymen from the Congress, the secular media scrambled to action. After all, during the past few months, they have praised Sonia Gandhi’s “sacrifice” to the hilt, hailed Manmohan Singh’s moral credentials and have tried to sell the “New Congress” to a skeptical populace. If they could not somehow explain away the shenanigans of the Congressmen and someone were to actually proclaim that the King has no clothes (that is, Congress is still corrupt and a party of power grabbers) – the house of Cards that Sonia has built will be shattered in no time.

Thus, we have the spectacle of columnists in the secular media trying to see the big picture and attempting to blame the old Congress mindset rather than saying anything directly against the dynasty. Like I said-it would have been comical were it not so pathetic.

Secular Media

There is a great editorial in today’s Pioneer. Please do yourself a favor and read it:


I wonder what it will take for the secular media in India to ever come up with something like this? Probably never, because Outlook is too busy to plug in Sonia Gandhi, Times of India is too busy to plug in its own products and Indian Express and Hindustan Times are too busy trying to sell a few more copies so that they don’t become totally irrelevant. Sigh!