Posted by: Vikram | December 21, 2008

Where is the professionalism ?

Not at many places in India, unfortunately. Driving around Mumbai, one is appalled to see the utter neglect of almost everything that can be neglected. Schools, roads, garbage dumps and most importantly, rules. In many ways, Republican India is a much better place for the oppressed majority of the sub-continent than the empires/sultanats/samrajyas that preceded it. A Chamar in the Bihari backwaters can (with great efforts) educate himself and rise to the top. But that only fixes part of the problem.

Individually one can excel here, with some luck and a lot of patience. But the broader Indian society is a frightening entity. A lot of the problems are blamed on the politicians of this country. But they just suffer from the malaise that afflicts many in this country; not taking their jobs seriously. There is an air of entitlement or disinterest with almost of any kind of work. Indians often brag about their ‘family values’, but it seems to me that Indians value only their family. Work can always take a back seat.

In this sea of unprofessionalism, there are many islands of integrity and dedication to work. They are present in every aspect of India today, not just in the ‘private sector’, like some might want to believe. Be it the police, the media, NGOs and the Parliament, there are men and women who dedicate their lives fighting the injustice and apathy around them. They work day and night to build a better India for the future. Looking at the last 60 years, I get the feeling that they will succeed, but at the current rate it may take many generations.

India needs some great leaders, fast. The important question is that, does the current political system hamper their emergence ? Arguments can be made on both sides of this question. Mayawati, a great leader for some (including me) is taken by many (with justification) to be a symptom of everything that ails politics in India. But the truth is, in a twisted irony of fate, India’s fate is dependant to a large extent on the actions of a Dalit woman. Perhaps the real problem was that it took so long for things to start coming into their natural order. Indians might start taking their country seriously once they have something deep at stake in its destiny.

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Responses

  1. Agree with nearly everything you have said here. Not sure about Mayawati though … need to know, some more about her. I remember her autocratic efforts in the Taj fiasco, then recent attempt at preventing Congress leaders to hold some meetings.

    Well, about Mayawati, if she sets a good example and actually cures UP of its ills, then the course of this country will change. Right now we have a situation where about a quarter of our population is dormant, atleast in economic terms. Human development and productivity in UP and Bihar is very low. If the heart of the country is stronger, only then can India reach its true potential.

  2. @ Vikram : Where indeed! You have written very well. What I often say about Indians is that they do not expect/value/deliver “Results”. They are also most likely to have very good imaginations which is not a very bad thing but they often mix up facts with what they “think” are facts. So when the line between reality and what is actually true is so blurred one can often escape to one’s own mind even if everything around one is crap. As for Mayawati she is an abysmal failure and as corrupt as anyone else though she is a lower caste and ugly. That might give her some advantage over the “prettier” politicians for a while 🙂

    True odzer, Indians in general lack ‘factuality’, many arguments are made here based on rumours and such. With horoscopes and such part of 24 hours news channel broadcasts, it seems Indians are ready to substitute an imaginary future for a troublesome present.

  3. We are a society in transition. You can say a society that is still waking up from a deep slumber of over a millenia.

    Feudal mores have not become extinct. Every now and then they arise to reassert their rights/entitlements.

    Awakening social consciousness is a difficult task. Swami Vivekananda was perhaps the first who did this on a pan-India basis as did Lokmanya Tilak from a socio-political perspective.

    It appears that different parts of the country live in different eras. That sense of excellence or a sense of urgency or committment are just begining to register in people’s psyche.

    This is also partly due to lack of education, training and exposure.

    We have a long way to go but as you mentioned we have islands of excellence. May these islands continue to prosper and inspire the vast ocean of mediocrity to make a genuine effort.

    This is also a challenge to those of us who consider ourselves better placed. We must also contribute to hasten this process rather than letting forces of evolution to unfold themselves.

    Thank you Mavin. Your thoughts are exactly what I have been thinking. India is in transition, mostly a good one. The transition has to be monitored to make sure that it is heading in the right direction, and that the zeal for economic and social change does not do unnecessary damage. This can only be done in an atmosphere of openness and democracy.

  4. Let me add one more point..We all feel the need for a new leader.

    Will draw your attention to the post written by me on 14th Nov 2008.

    Why Obama? – We get what we deserve.

    After all, the political class is a mirror image of the society they come from.

  5. Another wonderful post Vikram..
    Surely if we go at this pace means surely it will many generations to show any kind of growth. But I don’t think people are changing.. because the man who speaks about corruption, next day itself gives bribe if he caught in any unethical behaviour. But no leader in our country doesn’t inspires or impresses me.. a sad thing 😦
    The day everyone of us neglect our negligence, is the day we are going to see the dawn

  6. Driving around Mumbai, one is appalled to see the utter neglect of almost everything that can be neglected. Schools, roads, garbage dumps and most importantly, rules.

    There can be no sort of professionalism until the government’s policies of interventionism be culled and removed.

    @unpre: You are making a very common mistake that urban middle-class Indians tend to make. If (many) agencies of the state are unprofessional, the state itself is not fully responsible for it. Yes little children do fall sick easily, but that is not simply because they are little children. It is because they are very susceptible to the conditions around them that can make them sick.

    My thesis was that many Indians tolerate the state’s lack of professionalism because they do not see their own stake in the country’s destiny and because they arent professional themselves. If you travel into interior Maharashtra, you will find good schools and cleanliness in many remote villages, because the people there prioritize that and wont stand the government otherwise.

    Contrary to popular perception, the Indian state is relatively benign. There are states that literally force people to go to schools at gunpoint. By contrast, the Indian state mostly positions itself as a provider not enforcer.

    You mentioned schools, so lets think over it, can the policies of government and the recent amendment to make education a fundamental right makes any sense?

    Read this report.
    Myth of complete education

    It says ‘fundamental right’ not ‘fundamental duty’. There is nothing wrong with a state providing a service to its citizens with its resources. Especially since the vast mass of the population does not seem to have a problem (and indeed anticipates) with such a service.

    Then try to ask your inner self, Can education be a fundamental right?
    No education cannot be the Fundamental Right

    You are right, education cannot be a fundamental right. But that is more because the state might not have the resources and the capability to make it a fundamental right. In fact, as the recent terror attacks and previous attacks on minorities have shown, the state cannot even protect the right to life! But the state’s inability to follow through on its guarantees does not mean that those guarantees should not be aspired to.

    You may consider the economic point of view of the question too.
    On creating Employment

    You may have a point here, if we look at Kerala , it has high literacy rates, but a substantial portion of the working population leaves that state to find work. But it isnt clear whether this migration is due to the inability of finding employment or the lure of more lucrative employment overseas. Dont forget that Kerala is highly literate but the majority of the workforce is still agrarian.

    In the functioning of a democratic state education is more important as a tool for being informed and politically active than for any employment opportunities it may provide. That is why the more literate states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu can ensure better governance than states like Bihar that have low literacy.

    Anyways, until Indian citizens won’t start thinking as individuals, the evil of democracy will keep harassing and exploiting the indians.

    The most important component of democracy is the ability to remove a government. Therefore, democracy cannot be exploitative. A majoritarian democracy might sometimes be exploitative towards minority groups, therefore we have (or are supposed to have) checks and balances.

    Please not that the Indian state does not usually inhibit individuality, you expressing your thoughts freely this way is an example.

    The harassment and exploitation of Indians today is mostly a result of a perverted caste based social system, and the low status of women. Some of it also has do with colonial legacy. Democracy in India, is in fact, the most important tool in the exploitation and harassment of common people.

    Actually there is no difference between British government before 1947 and indian government after 1947. We still need to revolt for economic freedom and property rights. Without removing government from economic sector, profesionalism is Impossible.

    Although I have a solid idea for you to increase efficiencies of Government offices.

    If you want to make government offices efficient, Bribe them
    Take a look at it, and you will find that bribing is not a bad idea nor immoral.

  7. You may call me “GarGi” (in place of unpre).

    and you will get answers for your comments so please look at them after a while again 🙂

    (and I would like you to have a link exchange with me, so here’s my list Reason For Liberty If you think its worthy, please add me at your blogroll, i will do it in return. That will provide me a casual look over the various windows of thoughts!)

    have a Good Day! Libertarian Good Day!

    Thanks Gargi. I have blogrolled you. Look forward to ur answers on my comments.


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