Proud to be Indian, I remain

This is a rebuttal to a friend’s* analogy of India’s greatness. Re-posted from my facebook notes of April 2009. (*Names have been deleted on purpose)

“I have observed that every time I mention that India is lacking in innovation and how it is not leader in any field, Most of My friends star arguing that we have a Great (sic) Culture and thus we are a great country.

Recently my friend sent me a stupid spam mail which boasted about greatness of Indian culture.

One by one I will show how all these facts are stupid and there is nothing to be proud of.
Fist the email gives list of people who hold top positions in different companies.

Q. Who is the GM of Hewlett Packard (hp) ?
A. Rajiv Gupta
Q. Who is the creator of Pentium chip (needs no introduction as 90% of the today’s computers run on it)?
A. Vinod Dahm
Q. Who is the third richest man on the world?
A. According to the latest report on Fortune Magazine, it is Azim Premji, who is the CEO of Wipro Industries. The Sultan of Brunei is at 6 th position now.
Q. Who is the founder and creator of Hotmail (Hotmail is world’s No.1 web based email program)?
A. Sabeer Bhatia
Q. Who is the president of AT & T-Bell Labs (AT & T-Bell Labs is the creator of program languages such as C, C++, Unix to name a few)?
A. Arun Netravalli
Q. Who is the new MTD (Microsoft Testing Director) of Windows 2000, responsible to iron out all initial problems?
A. Sanjay Tejwrika
Q. Who are the Chief Executives of CitiBank, Mckensey & Stanchart?
A. Victor Menezes, Rajat Gupta, and Rana Talwar.

All above except Azim premji are NOT Indians They are all AMERICAN Citizens!!!
To this my friend replied that

“its the upbringing tht is important u hav been brought up in India so India is responsible for ur achievements ok……the workplace can be nething”

Okay but then why these people are not sending their kids to India for upbringing. Big Joke have you ever heard an NRI (UK, USA ones not Dubai kind) sending his kids to live in India?

Q. We Indians are the wealthiest among all ethnic groups in America, even faring better than the whites and the natives.
There are 3.22 millions of Indians in USA (1.5% of population). YET,
38% of doctors in USA are Indians.
12% scientists in USA are Indians.
36% of NASA scientists are Indians..
34% of Microsoft employees are Indians.
28% of IBM employees are Indians.
17% of INTEL scientists are Indians.
13% of XEROX employees are! Indians.

SAME reason as above they all are US Citizens and most likely their kids don’t give a Damn about India or being an “Indian”.”

My rebuttal:

My observation to these facts are different from yours. Yes, they may all be American citizens, some of them might be migrants and some 1st generation. I can also bet that in the names mentioned, almost none would be beyond 1st generation American-Indians.

Now to answer why they are in the position they are and how culture does affect one’s achievements. In case of migrants, they carry the culture passed onto them first hand. When abroad, they realise that culture combined with the facilities and opportunities enables them to do great things. They harness that scenario and are where they are. If they are 1st generation A-Is then, they get the culture from their parents who had migrated. Once in foreign land, most (not all!) try to preserve their culture. Most (again not all!) parents try to pass on to their kids the ‘culture’ while the kids are fostered in a developed country.

I am not a propagandist or an anthropologist or sociologist and I don’t have any results of experimental studies to support my argument except my own experience of living abroad.

1. As kids, we were taught not be wasteful. To finish everything we were served on the plate, to not waste energy and water. These were things that were taught out of necessity. A nation like India with its population and limited resources would not survive unless every kid was taught that. It is ingrained in most of us. This little virtue branches out as an application to so many things in life. It basically makes us the ‘efficient indians’ which we are. We don’t just save resources but we effectively manage them, making large contributions.

I feel depressed looking at the fact how wasteful people here are. It’s not just uninformed westerners but highly educated people as well. Wasteful of everything (just name it), it’s a shame.

2. As kids, I remember how my mum pushed me to do my best. And doing the best meant hard-work. Again, this may be personal choice of parents, but looking from a wide-perspective, it is also instinctual. With such a large population, pure genius could take you nowhere unless coupled with hard-work. That culture of working hard, proves to be a boon abroad. We are valued highly because of our work-ethic not genius alone.

3. The third and one of the most important cultural boons is tolerance. Indian culture integrates this quality of tolerance to religion and injustice towards fellow human beings, in general. As Indians, we are taught that life is not always fair (not just through word of mouth but actual experiences), we must make the most of what we can when the opportunity is given. It helps us achieve more than others as we can jump these hurdles much easily than others.

These are just a few arguments through my personal experience. I am sure if you speak to the names mentioned above, be they American or Indian, they would give you more reasons to believe that culture plays an important role in your future progress. So however much you try to shirk of Indian culture, you cannot. What you can do though is accept it make use of it to progress or fight it and end up progressing less or not at all. The choice is yours.

Proud to be Indian, I remain.

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About Akshat Rathi

Akshat Rathi is a science journalist. He has previously worked at The Economist and The Conversation. His writing has appeared in Nature, The Guardian and The Hindu. He has a PhD in chemistry from Oxford University and a BTech in chemical engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai.
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4 Responses to Proud to be Indian, I remain

  1. Pingback: Why can’t we embrace the achievements of the Indian diaspora? | Contemplation

  2. Proud India says:

    India or as we call with love “Bharat” is the seventh largest country by geographical area, the second most populous country, and the largest democracy in the world. “If on Earth be an Eden of bliss, it is this, it is this, none but this”! That says a very well known Persian verse, written on one of the walls of the Public Auditorium of Lal Quila (Red Fort), in Old Delhi. They say India changes your state of mind and soul. India has this impact through its inhabitants, music, traditional dances and its marvelous monuments. Nobody can resist a warming welcoming and ‘spicy’ country which smoothly seduces you.

  3. Proud India says:

    i am an Indian , and i am proud of it. can’t give any specific reason as to why but the fact that i was born here makes me respect my nationality.

  4. Realist says:

    The qualities that you have mentioned, especially of tolerance, are’nt really Indian. We are tolerant? Hardly, in fact i dont know of any semi developed country with more prudish tendencies. And talking about hardwork, America is a country built on solely hardwork, and even now, vis a vis European companies, you’ll see American companies, even in India, have longer hours and so is the culture in America as well. Take a random sample of any 1.2 billion people, and the number of successful people will be about the same as we have produced, its not culture, its pure and simple statistic.
    I’m proud to be an Indian, but not delusional.

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