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This 15th of August ... shall we commit to change ourselves?

It is India's Independence Day. Casually turning the pages of a recent magazine, I saw an IBM ad saying that the annual Global Retail Theft Barometer Survey across 36 countries in 2008 found that India has the highest shrinkage rate at 3.1%. Shrinkage is stock loss mainly due to theft by employees and customers.

Oh my God, not again. Not another Global list show-casing India's poor performance in one more area. Only recently did the cover story of Business & Economy show India near the bottom of "good" lists and near the top of "bad" lists.

How do we react in India? Public says Government is bad. Employees say managers are bad. Managers say staff is bad. Consumers say businesses are bad. Parents say college admission practices are bad. And the list goes on. The problem is, we forget that the Government, the colleges, the businesses, everything that we blame is simply us -- you and me.

Starting this Independence Day, could we try something different? Could we do some self-analysis? Ask ourselves a few questions ... Should we change our thinking? Should we change our attitudes? Our values? Our behaviors?

Self-analysis should lead to our own personal Change. When we change, we will see change in the country. Isn't that what the architect of the country's freedom -- Gandhi -- was suggesting when he so famously said "Be the Change you want to see"?


  1. but how? Take for example Indian roads. As a change I stop my vehicle to give way to pedestrians. Will I not look stupid. This is the case with every walk of life in India.

  2. Inspiring post on an important day! I hope we all can make the change and become the change and remain the change today...

    I am not sure if the problem is one of individuals or of society as a whole...whether it is that a majority of the people behave badly and so we as a country perform badly...OR is it that even though there is a lot of individual goodness, there are other forces at work which make our country a serious underperformer overall...maybe that is a question for scientists...

    My own take is this: Indians are mostly selfish. We are selfish because we grow up in a rat race. We are always reminded from early days if we dont run and push the guy in front of us away, we will miss the bus...perhaps this had to do with the license quota raj system which many of us grew up with where there was a general shortage of everything and you had to be mean to get your fair can see this so clearly in queues in India where the second guy in the queue is pushing forward over the shoulder of the the first guy, fearing that the counter is about to be closed just before us...maybe this came from experience for some people, but mostly this is a disease which parents and society systematically inculcates in children.

    As a result, we are good at things which are individual activities and we invariably fail as a team...

    Now, most societies do great things, build great things and achieve greatness by learning to do big things as a team. If we dont learnt to play as a team and do things together, we will be like this only...

    People might say Indian IT companies have shown us the too I believe there is more than meets the eye. I have not heard of any meaningful partnerships between Indian IT companies. If Infosys and TCS and Wipro had gotten together, Indians could have pulled off a $5 Billion outsourcing project as early as 2000 perhaps. We are still to do something of that magnitude. Here again, the philosophy holding us back is Me for Myself...

    The mistake is that people dont realize they can get much bigger even individually, by doing things as a team.

    On this great day, let us take the pledge to educate our children on learning to work as a team, learning to collaborate and learning to do things together...

    I guess that is what Gandhi managed to was probably there (this community forming ability) all along genetically in Indians, and we have become this selfish way only of late...

  3. Unfortunately all that concerns the Indians is 'good ole me' To attain his personal ambition or goal in life and Indian is will to do 'whatever it takes'! There is absolutely no moral or ethical values - which we once were famous for.
    Hopefully this valueless system will not percolate (with so many Indians moving abroad)into the western countries and spoil the people there too!

  4. When thr first Englishman landed in Surat, his gifts for Jehangir, the Moghul Emperor, was taken away by the customes officials. Things were not different before, nor now.

    I work for a PSB and I've seen employees using the resources for their own personal benefit. Being in the recovery department I've seen facets of human fallacies.

    Now as for your blog on 15/8, I'd say it is the day when the English Bandits were replaced by Indian Dacoits.

    IBM should blame itself for not knowing the culture of the land it landed and should have brought in the safeguards.

    In a democracy, the Government is the reflection of the people's aspirations/desires/attitude. How can the Government be different from the people?

    It is genetic, Pradeep.As some English Viceroy, I think Curzon, who said "All Indians are corrupt". I'll endorse that. We may be honest, but we carry it in our genes. And that will manifest after a generation or two.

    As for IBM or any other corporation coming in: "Look before you leap"

  5. @sundar,

    maybe it is worth looking stupid at times to do the right thing :-)


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