So many people uphold the Indian culture as the one thing that makes it unique and great. One theory I have heard for this is that even though the British left the country the fear of the British has still not left the Indian hearts. If this is the case, in the desperate search for a post-colonial identity Indians are ensuring their defeat. Let me start an assault on that death spiral.
I despise the Indian culture.
However, I despise it for rather uncommon reasons. The different problems of the Indian culture: the sex-depravity, the feudal systems, corruption and others has been analyzed to death so many times already. Today we are going to take a clean break from all that and enumerate the signs from the culture that stops the people from being efficient, innovative and ambitious. Here are some of them in list format:
People take things way too personally
If you say “This should not be done this way. A better way to do it would be like this” what most people hear is “You are stupid and do not know what you are doing”. People are reluctant to take feedback and use it to improve but are more interested in seeing things as an attack on their personality.
Respect based culture
On more than one occasion, I have made the statement : “This is my hypothesis, these are the arguments that support my hypothesis and this is the evidence that proves beyond any reasonable measure of doubt that the hypothesis is correct” only to be rebuffed with “I am more experienced and hence I must be right”. It would have been understandable, if this was a matter of opinion, where an experienced person may have an edge, but when this behavior bleeds over to discussion of scientific facts, it is hard to get things done.
Another closely related problem is respecting elders. This has a rather unfortunate problem of promoting respect for another based on who they are rather than what they can accomplish ( a meritocracy ). I feel this is inefficient as, if you give people more reasons to accomplish things it would make for a better society.
Disagreement means dislike
People expect you to agree with them because you like them. There is no explanation necessary as to why this is poisonous.
Frankness and politeness are mutually exclusive
If you are direct that means you are impolite. This is dangerous for two reasons :
- There is a danger of misunderstanding
- There are some things that cannot be done without being direct
Replacing common sense with procedure
So many times I have seen people trying to replace common sense decision making from individuals with process. The problem here is that all rigid systems come under pressure in time. There may be some cases in which the procedure may need to be twisted, some other cases where procedure is completely broken which stops you from accomplishing your goals.
Blind faith in tradition or procedure.
An interesting story comes to mind. Once upon a time there was a poojari who was very good with his prayers. But when he starts his prayers there was a stray dog which lived nearby who would come in and interrupt the proceedings. So the poojari started to tie the dog to a nearby tree before starting the pooja. After some time he passed his traditions to his children but they unfortunately also picked up the tradition of tying the dog before the start of the prayers. They felt it was tradition and must be followed as is. If there wasn’t a dog nearby they would search for a dog and tie it to a tree nearby before starting the prayers. No dog, no prayers. In India, people do not want to ask the whys or hows. They are even discouraged if they dare to.
In the Indian society you have to pay a premium to remain curious. You have to fight to remain ambitious.
So why do the people hold on to these ideals even when they make their lives worse?
Indians are still alien to the concept that arranging things in a particular manner makes everyone’s lives genuinely better. Why is this more predominant in Indian society compared to Western societies? I posit because the Western nations were informed by great men.
Great men have another effect. People are influenced by their surroundings. If you are the only person in your community to have a job in an outsourcing firm, you may see no reason to try harder. Greatness breeds greatness. When people see what is possible with their life, only then can we create the desire in them to take their lives and make something better out of it. Combine that with the belief that they can achieve it and we have a recipe for building a great nation.