Monday, January 26, 2009

60 years of the Indian Republic

India, Indian, Indianness. These words ring out in Desi communities the world over. Throw a Desi in a foreign country, he becomes successful. I am serious. We have one of the most successful 'diaspora' community in the world. Of course, we are not as omnipresent as our Cheeni bhais and behens, but we make it wherever we go. Indira Nooyi, Vikram Pandit (never mind current Citigroup fortunes), and the lodestars of Silicon Valley - Kanwal Rekhi, Rajat Gupta, Vinod Dham, Vinod Khosla, Sabeer Bhatia, all Indians. Kinda makes you feel proud. It goes on, Kalpana Chawla, L N Mittal, blah blah blah.

So what's the big deal? A bunch of Indians got out of our country, made it big and got covered in papers all these years. I may sound cynical when I ask, what is wrong with the Indian system, that these Indians chose to flourish outside the country. And what's the big deal with the patriotism, since we still don't have cleanliness, orderliness, discipline on roads, courtesy, more effective government. We need overall growth and not just growth of pockets, and an upgrade on the happiness quotient of the people. We still need better infrastructure, reduction in poverty, need to hold on to our intellectual capital, need true globalization, in the sense that people across the world must be as enthused about coming to India as Indians are to go out. So there are chinks in the Indian system, and so, we have greats developing outside, but not in India. But my take is that the Indian system is such that it teaches you how to struggle and work hard. So when thrown into a population that has thrived on prosperity (and has been fed the complacence tht accompanies prosperity), like the west, Indians stand out.

Our biggest USP - English and Math. I have seen kids in the west petrified of math. I have seen cashiers in stores in North America who can't calculate $100 - $37 mentally and tender out change if you give them $102. (We in India do that all the time!) English - we speak it with ease and so clients feel at home while dealing with us. China is ahead in terms of the math, but the lag behind on the English. But what do we have that China doesn't? We are a Republic. Constitution, democracy, bicameral legislature, democracy again. Granted, we may not have the most mature democracy, and it still may be years before we see an Obama fairytale in India, but we are getting there, and we eventually will, I am sure. And the power to choose who rules us, is immense, because it just means that we have the power to chart what we want to do.

We can feel proud of our Olympic Gold last year, Vish being the Chess World Champion, Tendulkar being the best cricketer in the world, Chandrayaan, Slumdog and A R Rehman. But if you look closely at the Indian success stories, they have all been personal dreams and personal achievements. Imagine what can happen if all 1 billion Indians develop a dream to make India the next superpower, and actually work towards achieving it? Happy Republic Day....

1 comment: said...

While we have a lot to be proud of on India's Republic Day, we also have to remember that we still have a long way to go. The youth of our country are the ones who can help India reach a point where every child is educated, and every person has food to eat; where health care and clean water are available to every citizen.

Help a young person have a brighter future at GiveIndia.