Can’t Put My Finger On It. But I Know Something’s Wrong.

Something has gone terribly wrong with the basic fiber.

Most people find it okay to jump traffic signals. There is a perverse delight even in being able to jump a light and jump the cop who tries to catch you shortly afterwards. Driving on the wrong side is fine. Incidentally, I live in this residential area, which, by conservative estimates, is higher middle class with a large proportion of educated (graduates and above) families. And yet, every morning, I find people driving the wrong way on a one way street in this residential area, just to avoid driving an extra 100–150 meters. Expensive fuel. I also see a lot of people whose driving license should be revoked given their parking skills.

Most people find it OK to not worry about their driving license, and let an extra 500 bucks to a grand take care of it. Most government offices and officials find it OK to take a bribe. Easier than having to check whether someone actually knows how to drive. The driving school guys also find it easier to get the license than to teach you how to drive.

Most service professionals find it perfectly alright to not deliver on their commitments. Most plumbers or carpenters mean one hour when they say they are 15 minutes away. Most technology companies find it OK to delay a project by a few months. Most hardware manufacturers find a 10–15% defect rate in their products OK.

In the most affluent city of this country, a metro rail project gets delayed by several years, and the city fails to buy the services of the best planners and builders, with all the money it has. In this process, every day, thousands of professionals who charge their clients and their organizations by the hour, spend several hours on the road just trying to get to their respective destinations. In the political power center of this country, a girl gets brutally raped and beaten and murdered, and it takes citizen rallies and candle light marches for the authorities to remember that this might need some attention.

Most people find it okay to be disrespectful towards a woman’s identity and her physicality. Teasing, groping, fondling, grabbing — they are all just fine. Somehow, a survey conducted on women suggests that more than 90% of them have been teased. Interesting, not more than 10% men commit to having participated or observed it.

In a certain state, men are married off without their consent and at gun-point, and in another, daughters are burnt or killed for expressing their desire to marry someone of their choice.

It has to be disturbing that a man often charged with abetting the murder of hundreds and thousands of people is the supreme political leader of this country, because a majority of constituencies felt that they had no other choice. It has to be unnerving that education minister of this country has had to refer to a certificate course of x days as her best credential for the job, only to be seriously undermined. It is even more disturbing that a politician universally acknowledged as the most corrupt ever has a gold plated Lanka of his own in a small Maharashtrian town that is now known for nothing else but this politician. It is also quite disturbing that the biggest democracy in the world has but one family owned business as the real political alternative.

The accident of having found a great president is almost immediately corrected by finding one that even hard fought despair could not have cared about. And a prime minister who could have done something is put on mute by a remote, ably handled by the buffoons of a family legacy.

The government actively bans harmful stuff — beef, porn. A college/ university even banned certain dresses. Harmful for the Indian culture. But religious, acidic and dividing speeches are not banned. Religious tolerance.

In broad public eye, 540 odd chosen people waste a nation’s precious time and money and do not let the office function, and nothing happens to them. In some companies, people are fired for showing dissent against their bosses.

Most are trained to respect our bosses. And not respect those who are not our bosses. Or peers. It is unacceptable to let your educated children work in a restaurant part time, and acceptable to laugh at the poor English of the unskilled service person. Most people want to have someone who could do their work. All the time. Maids, delivery boys, office boys… are, jara mera ye kaam kar dena… but find it rude if someone asks them to do something extra.

Most people find it an extra and unrequited effort to hold the door for someone coming from behind. But they find it OK to jump a queue and get in front of someone who might be ahead. They do make the extra effort for that.

Speaking of time and effort, our judiciary is piling over with the number of cases it has to handle. And it still keeps a case running for decades. An actor gets a bail after running over many people. Several years after running them over. Being Human? A young drunk lawyer can’t get bail for running over one. Fair and Blind Justice. A certain politician is still in contention, and gets support from the torch bearers of “anti-corruption and fairness”, having siphoned of a little over a 1000 crores in the name of fodder. And people will still vote for him. National Blindness.

They either support, or they are against. People take sides too easily. More importantly, they want people to take sides. Or they choose people’s sides. If one says Aye, one never gets to say Nay. The walls of protest have become too easy to paint — a digital swish, or a 140 character momentary wish. Every debate is black or white, no shades of grey for this nation of mine. “Jo galat nahi hai, wo jaroori nahi ki sahi ho”, I had read somewhere long back.

Something is terribly wrong with the fiber. I just can’t put my finger on it.

p.s. This post deserves a lot of hyperlinks. I am not in the mood though.

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About Amit
Conventional, boring, believer, poet, Shayar (to be precise), lover of music, musical instruments, and all that can be called music (theoretically or metaphorically), jack of all master of none, more of a reader less of a writer, arbit philosopher, foolish debater.. and many more such things.. like so many people!

11 Responses to Can’t Put My Finger On It. But I Know Something’s Wrong.

  1. ChocolateSeller says:

    To quote someone else – “Morality is an inverse function of opportunity”. Opportunity is created because there is no certainty of punishment for wrong-doing. The guy driving on the wrong side knows he’ll not get punished, even if caught. The traffic cop taking a bribe to let the guy off knows he’ll not be punished for taking the bribe, and even if caught there’ll be a way out. The road contractor building a poor road that won’t last the first spell of rain knows he’ll not be punished for a poor job, as long as the right people are taken care of.

    I would put my finger on that – stricter enforcement of rules / Law. Make it unattractive to break the law and hence kill the opportunity. Of course, easier said than done – need a check on the law enforcers themselves, need speedier, more effficient courts, need checks n balances in place on the Judiciary etc. etc.

    (note – The law itself can be more or can be less strict – that is another debate. I personally would like more liberal laws, but well enforced. Here I speak only about enforcement of the law as it is written).

  2. Moron says:

    Good post……reminds me of Ek Doctor Ki Maut….not to say you are the doctor…..but the sense of frustration with all things India is very real and I agree…of course from an armchair 🙂

  3. Mani S says:

    Great narration of very very sad and insurmountable state of affairs. We have to bear with irreversible helplessness.

  4. Saikat Ghosh says:

    Monotheistic religions ask everyone to face in the same direction and pray. Drive on the same side of the road, follow the same education-job-retirement-death path of life, and believe in the same omnipotent God.

    Polytheistic civilisations (such as India) follow chaos theory. Every man does what maximises his own returns, and believes in his own God.This approach unnerves the monotheists, but it is nature’s own preferred way and results in the best outcomes for society at large.

    The evolution of species is a beautiful example of chaos theory at work. Darwin summed it up as “Survival of the fittest”. Is it just a coincidence that the most chaotic civilisations – namely Indian and Chinese – have survived the longest?

    • Amit says:

      Thanks for dropping by. That’s the first time someone has put the evolution of India and China in the same boat! 🙂 Worth thinking about.
      Agree in parts. Chaos can be unnerving. Chaos can be scary. Chaos can be beautiful. Chaos can be that “gale of creative destruction” that economists and historians love to talk about. As long as you are not dealing with the sarkari babus who streamline the chaos into a perfectly ordered script, all for a few grands.
      Survival of the fittest is a great theory (as long as you don’t find yourself surrounded by three tall drunk NCR brawny folks looking for increased entropy in the system, and an accompanying belief that the law and order and the citizens are not going to stand up for you at that very moment).

      The thing is – Such evolved ways of evaluating life seldom help the one that has to live through the chaos. They have traditionally been a great rear-view storytelling tool. Now, if they can be used to visualize a better future and plan for it, that’d be interesting.

  5. Very well written Amit. My sentiments couldn’t have been better expressed. The burning question is: such being the state, what can I do to make a change? And leave a better tomorrow for our children? No answer yet.

  6. Bee says:

    Janaab, there is no correlation between wealth and moral/ethical fiber, or education and moral/ethical fiber. Not in our Country, not anywhere. Your premise that your ‘upper-middle class’ neighbourhood should have higher standards sounds patronising.

    I agree with most of the things that you say. But think of it like this – In spite of all this being what it is, there are people striving to do something meaningful in their life. Let us find those people. And have the heart to say “Well done” to them. Tip the non-tardy plumber extra, appreciate the traffic cop who toils away, teach the kids to not be entitled. Our Countrymen have had more hope when times had been more hopeless.

    Feel aggrieved, scream out, blog. But dear friend, do not think we are doomed. Fiber has never been great. Fiber shall improve. The thrill is in doing something meaningful even when Fiber aint that great.

    To sign off, “yeh safar bahut katti magar, naa udhaas ho mere humsafar”.

    Keep your chin up, bro. Your neighbourhood can afford to have many morons with poor Fiber, but cannot really afford to have one Amit Das with his chin down.:-)

    • Amit says:

      Didn’t mean the upper middle class as a standard. But upper middle class through education. If education as a hypotheses breaks down completely (and I think it does break down), what else as a hard metric can we correlate with higher standards? Otherwise, its down to each one for himself/herself (there has to be a gender neutral language now. It was easier when writing “each one for himself” did not make you a sexist)

      Here’s a morning song for you – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztVaqZajq-I

      BTW, this is not a country is going to the dogs post! 🙂 It’s just.. a post.

    • Amit says:

      btw. quick comment- ye safar bahut hai “kathin” magar.

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