Wednesday, November 2, 2011

India or US?


So many Indians living abroad feel like he did. My fear is this – what if I feel the same? I definitely don’t want to.

An Indian who was living in the States decided he wanted to go back to India and settle there. The family packed up and flew home with hope and excitement in their hearts. Within a year of reaching India, although he had all the trappings of a good life, he went back to the States. It wasn’t the life style that let him down. It was, he felt, the person India forced him to turn into. He was unable to deal with other, less fortunate human beings incessantly tapping him for loans; he was unable to tell whether they were lying or telling the truth with their tales of woe; it was the insensitivity of Indians laughing at the expense of people from other Indian communities; it was having to deal with unadulterated nosiness – for example, people wanting to know his sub caste so that they could fit him into a mould rather than see him as a unique person. He couldn’t handle it and went back to the States, defeated by it all. The article is worth visiting as are the thought provoking comments after. Here's the link -
http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/22/why-i-left-india-again/
 
So many Indians living abroad feel like he did. My fear is this – what if I feel the same? I definitely don’t want to.

Perhaps it doesn’t have to be like that. He dealt with work colleagues, his family, his daughter’s school principal, teachers and the home help and driver. They served a purpose – they were all there, in some form or the other, for him. And he for them.

What if he would’ve sought someone outside of his own or their needs? Would that have made a difference? More to the point, do I think that might make a difference to me? Spending time not only with people I need and who need me but with others who devote their energies to something outside of themselves? With someone who wants to make a difference, who fights to ensure every kid gets a basic education, a meal a day if they attend school, who tries to inform and educate the public on the environment so that the air we breathe, the water and soil we depend on are clean and don’t poison us?

There are many and varied NGOs and charities in India trying to make a difference. People who care. My search for “NGOs in India” resulted in quite a few links – here’s one: http://www.indianngos.com/  Ask them and they’ll tell you – once we are working for a cause we passionately espouse and meet others who feel as strongly about it, we tend to forget which community or sub caste individual members belong to. Our appreciation is for that individual’s dedication, wisdom, compassion and intelligence. In turn there is something in us that he or she appreciates.

Perhaps if more of us joined NGOs and charitable organisations the way we've joined "India Against Corruption", a movement to fight corrupt politicians who steal from the Indian treasury and get away with it, the more we give our time – as much as we decide we can spare for a cause that benefits others, the more we rise above ourselves, the happier we'll be within ourselves irrespective of where we are. Of late there's been talk of some NGOs using their organisations to convert black money to white. The solution is simple - Don't donate money till you are sure they are above board. Simply donate your TIME.

As Sumedh, the guy who started this introspection  rightly put it, it isn't India. It is us.



10 comments:

  1. It's not about what a country can do to you, it's more about what you can do for that country :)

    I think he gave up too easily!

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  2. Perhaps he did, Purba. Luckily, I still feel a strong connection although the recent killings of Keenan and Reuben in Mumbai shook me. Those low lives had the guts to commit murder with a crowd of people watching. Leave alone being hanged for their crime they were sure they'd be out of jail in no time because of the backing of some politician.

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  3. I liked the last line the best - "It isn't India, its us". Mind if I blogroll you? You have a nice blog here...

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  4. I'd be happy for you to, p&p, thanks.

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  5. loved your site!! it is such a fresh feeling to be with people who are in love with their country ...with no conditions attached (good infrastructure, pleasant living etc...)..love the tone of your site... thanks for stopping by my page..i was deeply humbled by your lovely remarks..thank you ...

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  6. Thank you. I loved your tribute to Steve Jobs, "I Miss You ...:(", I loved the snippets you put up and I loved the photos too. :-)

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  7. I think more than joining NGOs, the education system needs a major revamp. First of all, there should not be any religion-oriented schooling. Then, there should be more emphasis on our apparently glorious past (not the epics, but historical facts). And we need to be taught to appreciate each other more, at individual level and among linguistic groups.

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  8. Or at least, if there are religious schools, they should concentrate on teaching the good in their own religion rather than a comparision to the detriment of other religions. In Mumbai I grew up watching people take succour from other religions without losing faith in their own. I'm talking of the 70s and 80s. But now, divisive forces are killing that wonderful spirit. Thanks for your comment R.A.J.A.

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  9. caste/sub-caste - yup, we do tend to do that a lot, fitting new people into set molds

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  10. Two possible reasons why we humans dig in - having to make the effort to get to know individuals for who they are is tougher than calling on our preconceived notions, and, having to admit our presumptions could be wrong might prove to be galling to some of us. Thanks Sujatha.

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