Yet another Independence Day (August 15) has come and gone with a culturally bankrupt English movie channel actually having the absence of mind to show a film titled Independence Day (July 4).
And, yet another independence day has come and gone with a linguistically challenged and militaristically inclined Kannada news channel, a) airing Hindi desha bhakti geethe as if patriotism doesn’t lend itself to the local language, and b) saluting soldiers as if the Indian army had a secret role to play in securing freedom.
And, yet another independence day has come and gone with A.R. Rehman‘s Vande Mataram putting up an increasingly weak show against A.R. Rehman‘s Jai Ho.
Nevertheless, as word after vacuous word flowed from corrupt leaders and crooked bureaucrats, as they have for 63 years before, SUJATA RAJPAL lists ten reasons why all this patriotic bullshit leaves her stone cold.
And why, despite independence, she admires, well, the West:
1) If you misuse public money, you can’t get away scot free, regardless of who you are or who you are related to or who you know in the echelons of power.
2) If you have a grudge against a public servant, you know how to seek redress. And you know you will get it, regardless of who she is or who she is related to.
3) You are held accountable for what you do irresepctive of who you are or what strings you pull or what ever you can do to hush it all up.
4) The CEO’s kid and the cleaning lady’s children go to the same school, learn the same lessons and have an equal opportunity when they step out in the real world.
5) There is no caste column in the school application forms or in the company service records. And it is not the yardstick with which someone gauges you and treats you.
6) No one looks down upon you if you don’t speak their language. Or no one looks up at you if you speak a language “superior” than theirs.
7) Religion is a personal question like one’s age and salary. It is certainly not the USP of political parties to ride to power or pull someone down.
8) You don’t have to answer ‘where is your native?’ from even a bank clerk just because you look different. And get treated differently as a result.
9) Your single status does not worry your colleagues, neighbours or their visiting relatives. And your sexual prowess is not a mater of public debate.
10) You will not die from the bite of a street dog. Or from a passing mosquito. Or from a little insect in your soppu.
Cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express
I like the 9th point especially… !!! :)
Forget about the West. We haven’t even approached the lofty ideals contained in our very own Constitution.
And we are slipping further away from them.
The loft ideals in our Constitution are Western ideals Alokprasannakumar, inspired by the European Enlightenment written by men thoroughly Westernised in thought. The Indian Constitution is a product of Western Civilisation.
Sujata Rajpal rues the fact that India isn’t more like the West. That can only lead to one inescapable conclusion – you shouldn’t have let them leave Sujata.
This a rude reality check. Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are at the root of it all. If that can be fixed all the rest will fall in place.
But check the webpages of our TV channels. The top stories are about the Tatas and the Ambanis. Exactly a year ago, the top news story on 15th August was SRK’s interrogation in a US airport. We live so much in a Bollywood and GDP growth laced stupor that we forget how hard it is to live decently.
I understand the spirit of this post – all the problems Ms. Sujata implies by admiring the west are valid; however, I don’t think Ms. Sujatha’s ever lived in the US.
1. Kindly speak to any Goldman Sachs executive for detailed instructions on how to achieve precisely this.
2. Perhaps the thousands of black youth who are languishing in jails on false accusations of drug peddling would beg to differ.
3. 3 wars in a decade? A financial crisis single-handedly driven by corporate greed, that affected the lives of struggling people the world over? Accountability, you said?
4. Has the author not heard of the enormous mess the US public school system is, and how the rule that only residents of a defined school district are allowed to attend a particular school is causing real-estate prices and rents to act as a proxy for school fees? A CEO’s son goes to a public school all right, but there’s a small detail that the monthly rent in a house in a good public school area is higher than the salary of most middle-class workers.
5. No, but there’s a nauseous focus on equal-opportunity everywhere. If you’re looking for fairness, good luck finding it in a country where “diversity” is the most important factor for getting a university admission.
6. Oh really? Has the author been blind to what’s happening in Arizona?
7. Right, just that you might “randomly” get shot if you wore a turban, and are subjected to ‘random’ security checks every single time at every single checkpoint if you sport a beard. Political parties are happy to debate abortion rights and a very significant percentage believes in repudiating Science.
8. Just that the police are more “professional” and somehow know the rules much better when they’re dealing with brown skin.
9. Certainly not when the entire country, as a _culture_, is obsessed with sexual prowess. I wonder where every mail in your Spam folder is coming from .
10. Not die, surely, but you just might go bankrupt or may have to spend the rest of your working life paying back for a surgery. Somehow the industry of medical tourism missed this point of yours.
Again, I understand that India has a lot of problems. Every one of the points the author raises is an issue that we must tackle. But let’s go easy on the hyperbole and excessive adulation of the West. Ms. Sujata can revel in her ignorance all she wants and revere whomever she wants, but I think she’s quite in need of a smoothness reality check from the doorada betta.
Not true. They are influenced by what are called “western” ideals but our constitution modifies them suitably to apply to an Indian context. For instance, while the word “secular” is used to describe the Indian constitution, it means more than just a separation of religion and state as understood in the West (or atheism in the erstwhile Soviet Russia) but also denotes the obligation of the State to promote tolerance and equal respect for all religions.
Likewise “equality” is not understood as merely Western formal equality before law, or the communist principle, but a combination of the two keeping in mind the need for formal equality as well as overcoming a hundred generations of systematic inequality.
I could go on, but the point remains. The Indian constitution has survived not because it is a cut and paste job, but because it is the product of people who understood both the underlying philosophy behind the principles and the particular social milieu which they sought to apply it to.
Besides, the duty of the rulers to care for the needs of the ruled and the obligations of rulers towards the ruled have been part of the Indian ethos since the Mahabharata, esp the shantiparva.
Some of these are completely wrong and in fact the reverse is true in the West. I am from the UK but am sure it is not very different from US.
1) You definitely can. Although I certainly agree that it is far more likely and quite easy to get away Scot free in India compared to UK/US.
4) This is not true at all. The CEOs kid probably goes to a private school that charges £1000 per month where as the cleaner’s kid goes to the council/public school. Again I agree that the standard of public schools in UK is way better compared to India.
6) I am laughing at this point. Lesser said about this the better.
There are a few other things I don’t agree with but that is my opinion where as the above three are “facts”
>But let’s go easy on the hyperbole and excessive adulation of the West.
I have lived in the US, and it isn’t a ‘doorada betta’ syndrome, when I say US system indeed works. It isn’t like India, where you have to ‘work the system’. If the system is found broken, like in case of Goldman, then an honest attempt is made to fix the system. As such – No system can be Perfect.
So, Some points you make are valid, but they are all cases of something slipping through a crack, rather than something so common in India. I don’t need to bribe to smoothly pay my taxes. I don’t need to bribe an lineman of the power company, not to cut off my power connection – because his company made a billing error.
If they ever did that, the employee will pay thru his nose for such malicious acts.
There are many things wrong with US. Healthcare being the biggest. But, who says we have to take the worst of their system. Why not the best?
It gives us no pride to say there are so many things wrong in India, but unless we say it, and admire what is mostly right in Western societies, we have no chance of aspiring for or attaining better standards.
>the duty of the rulers to care for the needs of the ruled and the obligations of rulers towards the ruled have been part of the Indian ethos since the Mahabharata
I agree that our constitution makers did a fabulous job of understanding and writing what they did. They did elaborate on our principle of ‘secularism’ as versus the meaning given in dictionaries (Though I hate their interpretation).
But, can you elaborate on this ‘Indian’ ethos? ;-)
The Raja dharma was followed in Breach most of the time. Rulers of India were in general no different from any other feudals around the world. They fought each other to safeguard their heirloom, murdered their siblings for kingdom, bartered land at their whim, without caring for the citizens. Mostly They promoted religion of their choice (Shivism, Vaishnavism, Buddhism, Islam or what ever). They taxed folks irrationally and gave away lands as Jagirs, even without actually owning them directly.
There is a saying that our ancestors used to follow “When you want to settle down, settle down in a place where there is no RAJA BHAYA and CHORA BHAYA.” i.e. Equating Raja’s with Thieves.
The concept of Democracy, Republic etc. are essentially western. There is no shame in accepting it or adopting a good idea. West has adopted so many good asian/indian ideas too.
We are so lucky today, to be living in a republic that is somewhat predictable and accountable. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t hope for more and continue to learn and adopt from the west, where they have demonstrably better ideas.
In other words, Indian Ethos in personal/family front are pretty good and we may be able to teach a thing or two to west. But, we have a lot to learn about Rule-of-law as a society
… you celebrate your freedom from what, same language english ( i should say HINGLISH), same shitty politicians like gandhi, nehru, same shitty caste system, same shitty ideology of hiduvta, same ass hole like behavior with minorities, lower castes… what independence you’ve got? the independence to lay and get laid by any ass hole…
bundekyata .. thanks for providing realitycheck for sujata.
More feedback..CEO’s kid goes to private school because they want to learn golf instead of PE.
The difference is more pronounced at the college level.. when the education is no longer provided free.
Corporate corruption in America is hundred times more than what is in India. They have you!!!
True independence in India, I would say is achieved when when people are independent in their thought and that is the biggest quality to learn from America. This independence in thought supplemented independence in action is what made America ticking..
India needs freedom in thought by adoption of rationalism.
India needs freedom in action by adoption of tort law.
(think for a while how tort law could have redressed most of the issues sujata brought out.. why do we still put up with failed judiciary..and that is the stark difference between India and US)
our constitution is a chutney job. Put all lofty ideas from East and West and everywhere else under kallu gundu and rubbu till fine paste. That is why it works only on paper and not in reality.
Its high time we get a ‘George Carlin-10 commandments’ done on our bloated constitution.
Surprised that the Churumuri Moderator didn’t edit out your toilet language.
And I don’t think anyone can answer you without stooping to the gutter, where you seem to so comfortably belong.
Hang in there buddy, fresh water will flush you out some time…
>Corporate corruption in America is hundred times more than what is in India.
Human beings are selfish and greedy by nature. They try to bend the system to their advantage – which is what corruption is all about. So, I won’t say there is no corruption in US System.
But, on a proportional basis – US business system is the most honest and trustworthy in the world. If there are scandals, they are investigated, and people are punished – How so ever high – if there is proof of breaking of law.
US isn’t an oligarchy like India. The proof of this is in the election of Obama, who was an complete outsider till a few years ago, without any backing – winning the top most office.
The proof of how stringent US corporations are in case of corporate corruption – Recent example is Mark Hurd. For a simple commission of a wrong expense reporting they kicked out one of the best performing CEOs in corporate America. Give me a comparable examples in India? We still have Kalmadi hanging on to CWG.
We have had many a political careers in US lost to scandals.
The major difference is not in the amount of corruption. It is in the accountability in case you get caught. So, in US most folks play by the rules, and try to manage their greed within the rule of law – Like top CEO pays and severances – all above board, though not entirely moral.
In India, you have everything hidden. So, to say US is 100times more corrupt is to say no one in India bathes nude.
Some of the above ( points ) do matter for Right wing radio hosts and Fox news opinionators or some red neck from interior Georgia ( or any southern state )
Agreed, I am absolutely with you in pointing out the very severe problems India faces, and I appreciate that you took the time out to think about it in a cogent, coherent way.
My point is that this need not come in the form of a fawning sense of adulation about another imperfect system. We have enough of a fixation about the US already, and some of these fixations are costing us dearly (like our idea of how cities should be planned, and the role of personal transport).
Once you agree that there might be significant exceptions to any observation, it becomes a question of the degree of efficiency with which a system works. Much of the righteous indignation about “patriotic bullshit leaving you stone cold” loses its steam when we get down from discussing high ideals to practical, ground-level implementation.
CWG scam. Is it possible that our PM did not know about all this before the media exposed it? It cannot be so. Where has all the tax payers money gone? Whose coffers? The Congress party, of course. We still remember the trunks in Setaram Kesari’s garage.
Who will be the scape goat this time around?
Yes I agree with all the points of view from the poster and comments on it. Yes the constitutions of the oldest as well as the largest democracies are hollowed and well written, wherein all citizens are equal in exercising their rights and performing their duties. The rules are same but the implementation and spirit of implementation is what matters whether it is in West or East.
” Thou shalt not use public property for thyself. Do so and face the music”
Under this law a person sleeping in the night under a bridge or in a public park would be arrested and put in jail however rich he may be and whatever connections he may have. So if Bill Gates does that he will be surely punished. Will Bill Gates ever do that? Think for a while. So it is not the laws or rights per se but how they are implemented.
Mark Hurd was sacked not because of fudging his travel expense. Grapevine says he was sacked because the person referred to as Marketing consultant was a porn star!!..Imagine the damage to reputation if she comes out with what they did in their marketing meetings!!! There is no way you can justify that as a minor infraction.
Look at the spin HP gave.. instead of telling the world that Mark Hurd spent time with porn star and billed it to company..they said they found some discrepancy in this travel expense report!!
This happens all the time in USA. “Doorada Betta Nunnage”..
Post Lehman Wall Street claimed 55 trillions in CDS exposure and made away with my 401K and tax dollars..
But bankruptcy proceedings resulted only in a paltry settlement between the same firms.. What more proof you need to realize that these firms are unscrupulous..
US government is in the grip of these corporations.. Every policy gets made for them. From Mike Milken to Goldman..US has history of corporate wrongdoings..
May be my statement “100 times is not quantifiable…. it was more of a figure of speech”
India and US both have corruption… But at different places!!
>Mark Hurd was sacked not because of fudging his travel expense.
HP board can’t get away by making a statement that they sacked Hurd for fudging the travel expense reports, if they were firing him for some other misconduct. As I said, USA isn’t India. Stockholders will sue the HP board (in fact I think they already have) to bring out the truth. So it is futile for a board to try and hide the reasons, when they are anyway taking action.
And… You are mistaken about what constitutes a scandal in US. US citizens don’t like their married politicians to have affairs. But, they don’t care much for the affairs of private citizens and business leaders. Check Larry Ellison’s (Oracle CEO) various dalliances with his female employees and read books about him. There are many like him or Richard Branson in US businesses.
>Post Lehman Wall Street claimed 55 trillions in CDS exposure and made away with my 401K and tax dollars..
If they violated any law, then they’d be punished. But, I wonder if they actually broke any law. It was the stupidity of US Fed to allow such risk taking.
>What more proof you need to realize that these firms are unscrupulous..
You mistake criminal behavior by people with a fault in a system. Criminals are indeed universal. But, a good system can punish them swiftly, however high their status may be. It keeps happening in US. In India, I doubt if even Satyam’s Raju will be punished in his lifetime, even after confessing to fraud. Harshad Mehta died before the legal process was thru…
Your rant of govt. being in the hands of corporates may be right. But, that’s true of most countries. I am sure corporates keep doing a lot of frauds too.
But, can you say they don’t get punished??? For the Police and prosecution are not under the control of the executive wing there. Even a president can be prosecuted by a persecutor or questioned by a policeman investigating a crime.
Raju just got bail in Satyam Fraud case. I normally would say an accused should get bail, pending his trial. But, in cases like Satyam, where the monies involved is huge, chances of destruction of evidence and flight is very high (Surely this guy has millions stashed away abroad), granting bail is strange.
Looking at the track record within our system, probably he’ll never be punished for a biggest corporate fraud in India.
People will still argue USA has worser system than India.
why is it that every one of our countrymen thinks they don’t speak about themselves when they speak ill about their countrymen?
>our countrymen thinks they don’t speak about themselves
Country is not equal to any single person, so it isn’t about a person. So, the ‘countrymen’ may refer to certain generalizations followed by significant sections.
but, why you ask?