Saturday, September 25, 2010

(This post relates to the Commonwealth Games Fiasco)

"Shame Shame Puppy Shame, India"

"yeah... so? What's your point?"

For the record, I am rooting for the complete disaster - and I know I am not going to get it. Like before, India can even bribe the countries to come over and it will be a grand success. And it will be a victory for the country and emblematic of India's arrival on the world stage for 67th time in last 7 years making us the #1 contender in the "Most Arrivals on the Global Stage" category. India seems to be running slower to the world stage than that moron of a Bollywood hero who runs towards the heroine to marry her in the final scene of a soupy Hindi movie.

Anyway, back to the point ... I am not at all surprised with this entire fiasco AT ALL. This is us, folks ... we are a proud nation full of 'Dr. last-minute-wing-it' s ... remember how we study for our exams? ... and like most things in this universe, it works sometimes, the other times it doesn't ... even Dinosaurs had their bad days. It is embarrassing that so many people are volunteering forward to criticize the politicians for corruption and lying and are upset about how they have put India to shame on the international stage.  This is so typical of all of us. What ever shit we might be made of, we would never want our bosses to know about it ...  Indian Professional Etiquette - IPE 101 !!!

Let me help you avoid this futile trap of moral relativism: Organizing an international sports event requires too much of team work and we as a nation have never been trained for it. Further, it fits into the larger picture of India's major problems - "our society is designed and optimized for personal success and we are terrible at team-work as a culture".

I hold our educational system entirely culpable in this regard. Once we are past the age of sharing toys, the whole trip into an ego-centric wonderland begins with our parents advising us to stop playing and expect us to score better than our friends. There is our intro into the bizarre world of entrance exams, personal achievement and selfish enterprise. Children are sent to tuition morning and evening; the schools are cutting down on games to focus better on marks and ranks. Well ... what do they care? They just want less noise in parent-teacher meetings. Keep in mind, ours is one of the few countries in the world, you can become anything just by cracking a goddamn exam. Clearing an exam like IIT-JEE at 16 years of age can ensure you everything : a job for life - no matter how serious you were in college, a wife - however your social skills be, and if things luck out, even grand kids ensue smoothly !!! This trend has gone so ridiculously far that the IIT coaching industry runs into a market of hundreds of crores of rupees and the entire playgrounds in the country are deserted. Look at the following ad. Ain't it just sad?

Holy shit of bovine type! Selfish parents end up raising selfish children - Simple as that. All through school and college, we are told that the only numbers that shape our entire life would be:

"How much is your score ?" ...
"what is your rank?" ...
"what is your percentage" ...
"what is the position in your class ?" ...
"When is the next exam?"

It's all the way a "me-me-me" life. Our obsession with numbers left us with an education that de-emphasized team-work and group-projects right from school till college. Did you ever do a proper project with your classmates and get that sense of equivalent achievement of clearing an entrance exam ? None ... And that's what people in western cultures do instead of remembering answers to questions. Look at this irony, folks. Young people under 25 are getting into B-Schools and Civil Services with no training in team-work and they are going to run the country's businesses and frame policies. Plus it doesn't help a lot that most times, people go to these B-Schools because they hate their software job. For the first time in 20-something years, our hero will be a part of a professional team when he enters a job. With no training so far, most of us obviously are going to suck at team work. So, aren't we obviously raising generations of self-centered people? The system is absolutely simple : "selfish in => selfish out", which explains a lot of these bad results. The common justification those lazy educational ministries give is "There are too many people. How can we find who is the best?". My thought is : if there are too many people, it makes all the more sense to put the emphasis on the group. It is perfectly understandable if they don't have group home-works in Greenland and Antarctica but what about us? We are dangerously under-trained for practical world that our young people are lost in the workplace if they don't have exams ... It's pitiful that something like the following is happening everyday :

... Given such a culture, you'd think we quake the world as far as individual brilliance is concerned. Not even close, dude. As all of us can't be good at cracking exams, we remain as a bunch of mediocres trying to hide behind the glitz of numbers. All that GDP growth to the number of Bollywood movies per year are just masks we kid ourselves with when we can't solve the real problems. And we can't solve the real problems because that requires team efforts at all levels.  Very early in life, I am just told that "you are on your own" ... and I have no training for 21 years in trying to work with a group. What do you expect of me?  The power of the group helps us cope up with inefficiencies of the self and yet be contributory to grander kind of success. That is the evolutionary motive for why we form a family and a culture ... Religion is so popular in the world (in spite of whatever the goddamn atheists might say), ONLY because it makes us recognize the power and belonging to the group over the individual as an evolutionary force. How come we misread the script when it comes to Indian workplace ?

No, we are not raising the bar instead we work our way around the system. We copy in exams, we bribe the TT for a better seat in trains and we throw the banana peels on the road -  we are not trained in thinking in terms of our relation to environment we are a part of. Any profession has a few stalwarts whose extraordinary spirit has taken them abound and transcend the averages … but I am waiting to see a really good team India thing. And don't give me that shit about team-India of cricket. Crap!!! … the whole history of cricket in India is just a few jewels and a whole waste of time. And today, India is #1 because the other countries are tired of the game nor have the money at today's prices to practice and besides in the internet age, wasting 8 hrs on a single sport result is dumb !!! Yet, it is our favorite sport ... we don't feature at all in any of the other team sports … heck, the two best tennis players couldn't stay together for 2 years. And if Lalit Modi had to share his glory for the IPL, he would have not even taken any pains to measure the hemlines on those cheer leaders. That is, sadly, the story of us.

Folks, I strongly think we can't solve the problems of energy security, climate change etc. by writing exams - NO, not in any foreseeable future. So, I think we need this part of training in our schools to begin as early as possible. We need to make team-sports cool again. SCREW CRICKET. WE NEED A SOCCER TEAM FOR THE COUNTRY ASAP !!! That is a key factor that separates our country from China or the west.  Whatever pressures they might be reeling under, these cultures are fundamentally superior at team-work and the power of identity through participative productivity. I am not saying we haven't achieved anything ever. I am merely pointing out that we can do a lot better if we have a better training at thinking in terms of a team as opposed to individual brilliance. I have argued previously that people chase money because they don't know what to do with their lives and the bank balance is a convenient, countable and the comparable measure of success. If we have to change the course, we need to create not jobs but engage in the industry of soul-searching. We need to empower  people to find what they want.

My argument is your politicians come from the same system. If they were being manufactured in a separate factory, we could have bombed it long ago. But alas! they mushroom from among us, snake their way into power through the magic-wand of the people - democracy. They are the product of same kind of thinking - only more ambitious and greedy. They are ill-trained as a group to co-operate and understand the image and the concept of a nation. CWG is not a isolated crash. Believe me, the legacy started long ago when our kinder garten teacher gave us a list of important questions to study for the next days exam. We just don't get trained to achieve stuff like that.

Also, two jobs no man ever even gets trained for anywhere in the world are
1) The husband

2) The politician
There are no degrees offered in that. Isn't that an amusing coincidence especially looking at the results?

[Please refer to my earlier posts on the commonwealth controversy : here and here ]


g2 said...

Insightful... A similar logic can be applied to explaining the rampant corruption in our system. We're not appalled when the police constable asks us 100 bucks bribe but we're appalled when one of those huge scams surface out. There is this hypocrisy in our people!

Ravi Teja said...

Dude..a good article.. :)

BTW the next CWG will be in Glasgow, Scotland. As per some local newspapers, Scots fear that exact same thing might occur here as well!

My six pence on this are Indians are also very good fault-finders (or should I say mud-slingers) case individual brilliance doesnt shine enough...u throw mud at others to create relative brilliance :D

Their focus more often than not remains on how to pull the other guy down rather than how to improve himself....All these politicians are so good at forming a 'scrum' and pushing each other around rather than work collectively to progress forward...

All this 'mud'dle leaves no time and energy for anyone to think forward and do whats right...

Sash! said...

@ ravi : absolutely true.

Did you see what Jaipal reddy said, "cleanliness is a matter of perception" ... We desis have been embracing the concept of relativity way before Einstein even meant in a completely different context …

Shalini Chauhan said...

OMG....just v have alwzz been discussing about apart frm religion !! our educational system and what incapable glory seekers it is churning !! Greed is the thing v're so deeply imbedded with dat v really dun even know !! well....never late for reforms - hope administrators n educators see d light, we on our part can do our bit by focusssing on dese values in our families !! kudos ...Sash !

Sash! said...

@ shalini : Oh yeah ... education is root of all evil. As you know, I am generally not a hopeful guy. Hope is less fun !!! :) :) :)

Nalini Hebbar said...

You seem to have a structure and analytical mind when it comes to lots of things troubling 'man'kind!
A well written piece...we are all the outcome of the prevailing system...but in our spheres of influence, we can surely work to improve and set examples for the generations of mouldable youth yet to come.
BTW...thank you for your comment...let us carry the discussion read mine!

Purba said...

The bitter truth about the Commonwealth games is, instead of handing it over to a private enterprise we had a bunch of old fogies run the show. The old India with it's "chalta hai" attitude let the "raring to go" new India down.

Kapil Sibal with his new age amendments is trying to do away with the flaws. We now have grading system in class X board exams and a continuous assessment evaluation program for class IX & X.

Things should look up and things are looking up :)

Sash! said...

@Nalini: Thanks for the comment. I think we have no choice but incorporate the new ways of looking at education system. This industrial-revolution age systems must play out their end game.

@Purba: ah! yes, i just haven't even thought of that angle. These old blokes are really cutting into our action :)

SRAVAN said...

Look beyond the traditional "school-breed" education and you would notice that India, like many other countries, practises "team-work" in the form of a daily wage laborer, or construction worker or those myriad jobs and occupations that form the base fabric of our society. It is not that India does not know how "team-work" helps. It just does not exist in our books. Kids are told the story of the Hunter and the bird flock - how working together can get us out of trouble. But that is where it finally gets applied as well - only to get out of trouble (as you notice in the developments at CWG).

Each one of us can look beyond the books and if we can impress at least in one kid around us the importance of team work, a billion strong nation does not have to depend solely on the school teachers or blame them for what has become of the nation!

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