Don’t you feel that human beings (in fact even animals) are desperate to owe their allegiance to a group? I always keep on complaining about India and I am desperate to leave it if I get a good chance. I was talking to my friend (for anonymity sake, let’s call him X). X agrees that India is a hopeless country. X is quite a techie and likes new products and technologies. He gets excited when his friends in US tell him that they bought a Toyota Corolla by spending just a year's savings. Last week, he agreed that all white-collar employees of India get underpaid but definitely overspend. Who would pay Rs 17,500 per month for a two-room flat in any other city apart from Bombay? Am sure an economist can use purchasing power parity theory plus quality of life criteria to reach a conclusion that for the facilities it offers, Bombay is the costliest city in the world. Still, X says that he would never settle abroad. At max, he will go there for a vacation. If the logical side of his brain is convinced that there are better parts in the world, it’s the emotional side of his brain, which makes him, clung to the ‘Indian’ batch'. Isn’t it such an illusion? I think few (may be many of us) would just like to stay at a place far removed from the chaos of this world. And, that place can be anywhere.
My boss in e-serve used to take huge pride in the fact that he works for Citibank - the largest financial conglomerate in the world. Not even that, he used to take pride in being a chartered accountant. Why doesn’t he value all this by a simple fact that these batches put together earn him Rs 10 lakhs a year? He should be taking pride in the fact that he is a lakhpati in an otherwise poor country. But far from it, he takes pride in being an employee of a world-class company. Isn’t it a marketing gimmick by the institutions of the world? And, such institutions can vary from a nation-state to a business. When a CEO addresses a company, he knowingly or unknowingly reduces every audience to a mere employee or worse still a worker. Many of them can be great singers, many of them can be great painters, many of them can be great sportsmen but that hardly matters to him. He sees them as his men (saying his women can be obscene, so women please forgive me). It works wonders for him and the impact is all visible, when employees raise from their seats and start clapping. May be they felt like an orphan and CEO assured them that he is their maai-baap.
ICAI – Institute of Chartered Accountants of India – has told all its members to prefix their gmail id with a ‘ca’. So, my gmail id can be firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. My CA friends find it okay. But isn’t it ridiculous? For the rest of their lives, their names are prefixed by their qualification as if nothing else matters.
One of my friend visited Germany. She did not like it. She said Germans don’t respect their country. I said, “How does it matter”. We respect our country, but we rank 112 on Human Development Scale, Germans don’t respect their country but they are in top 10. The fact of the matter is we may like India but not Indians. For all countries, which have not reached a high stage in social development, a country remains an illusion in the eyes of its countrymen. An idea – We may not be a superpower but in another 25 years, we will be. The truth is my father also thought so and so did his father. Isn’t it better for our politicians to keep on promising perpetually that we will be a super power so that they have a sales pitch in elections?
I think this is one of the most important reasons that the nation states exist. We don’t think twice and stand up when the national anthem is played. At that time, not even 1% of us think that do we actually respect our country or it is just a ritual? Respect your country is something taught to us. I had acquaintances in Delhi, most of them sons of rich businessmen. Their father had never paid a penny as tax, yet they all used to stand up when national anthem is played. In fact, the conditions are so bad in certain countries that you might as well get exempted from all taxes if you stand under their flag. The government knows that this sense of pride is far more important than paying taxes. Aren’t Germans better off by simply paying their taxes and affording to have a kind of disdain for their country?