Sunday, October 11, 2009

Why Indians don’t give back to society

Why Indians don’t give back to society
Some characteristics unite Indians. The most visible is our opportunism.
- Aakar Patel.
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My response:
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A good thought provoking article! Albeit I would doubt the analysis process the author adopted to arrive at concrete conclusions that relate mainstream Indian socio-cultural behavior to religion ONLY. I am not an expert on this matter, but at a first glance, it seems like there are more factors in play here. I do not believe one can look at purely mythological and religious aspects and arrive at the conclusion that this article does. Especially so because major religions from pretty much every developed country focus on 'pleasing' the God in one way or the other (act in a suggested way, donate, preach), the objective being either getting a safe path to heaven, or relieving one from the endless sufferings of this and the other worlds. I tend to think a nation's history would have a bigger role to play with how the society evolves and how the attitude of the people therein morphs/takes shape. I would argue that in a community where there are more people seeking the resources than the society can provide, there will be competition, jealousy, and mis-trust. Keeping secrets and resources to yourself then become your competitive advantage to 'survive' or 'fare better' than your peers are doing. And this is just one aspect to a complicated cause-behavior pattern the author tried to describe. As for mis-trust, may be our recent history has shown us not to trust the system, the local government, our neighbor? Remember what happened the last time our ancestors trusted the reps of East India Company? As for the attitude, I have seen the same in a comparatively better-to-do western country (U.S.), although at a smaller scale. I have seen people complaining about high taxes, finding ways to evade them. The difference being: the vigilance system in U.S. is better than what it is in India, so chances are good you get caught if you do. In the end, most of this boils down to limited resources for a mass of people, and the daily struggle because of this imbalance.