Thursday, October 13, 2011

India Unbound : A side view

Recently, i did finish reading the book India Unbound by Gurcharan Das. A blog entry on the same was expected as an after effect. The optimism shown in the book is one of the better points , all of us should show similar pragmatic optimism in daily routine. By the time i realized , i was deeply engrossed reading each chapter with utmost concentration . I wish i can read everything with that level of dedication and concentration. It was heartening to read the facts that how Nehru's idealism failed to get implemented ,how we created difficulty in our own growth story and we failed to eradicate poverty in time. By the time we took measures to remove those obstacles , 40+ years had passed since independence and many countries have moved ahead of us.

Without going into other aspects of the discussions beautifully raised in the book , i would like to come to the topic which i want to elaborate here. Obviously , these are my thoughts and as i fondly say , subject to evolve in future. In the book there were so many references of middle class values. Some values are so apparent and some are hidden , you have to really explore to discover that. The topic is difficult to handle as i can already feel . The source of values are multiple as i try to trace the origin. Some are family values which can qualify to be middle class values.

1: Earn the right to have/haven't : I remember once i had asked dad , " why we can't have that thing called a-car ". Dad's gentle reply was , " only eligible people get that , for that you have to study very hard and get that " . Then i didn't know what people become by studying very hard. He said ," study hard , you will become someone good for sure and you will get 'that-thing' for sure ". This certainly qualifies as middle class value and the motivation is kept alive by always working for the goal and good things do come in between.

2: Austere lifestyle : Extra things should be minimized . Have only those things which you require. When i visit home, i am reminded of austere lifestyle which should be the guiding force. Family members still wonder , how that plate of vegetable served in a normal restaurant can cost 200 rupees per plate. I don't think mom-dad will agree to eat food served which come with such price tag. At the same time , Somehow they think new generation has right to eat that food , the bottom line remains "Earn the right ".

3: Calculate your resources : I failed to explain to dad on the topic , why people use credit cards? His question was, anyway the money has to be paid , so what's usability. I tried to come up with those cash-back and use-now-pay-later argument. But still, that was unconvincing explanation . he said , "may be that is useful ,but i don't understand". Spending after calculating the available resources has been one main family teaching which has been repeated to me time and again . This sub topic will remain incomplete if i don't quote John Abraham . He once said , " I am from the family where 1 rupee is valued as 100 paisa" .This explains the importance of the value. Now i know ,in all middle class families this value is taught everyday.

4: Hard work : Border road Organization's Motto : Shramena Sarvam Sadhyam ( Sanskrit words which means .... with hard work everything is possible ) . I was introduced to this fact in my family , though no one pointed this specifically . I remember my maternal grandma used to extract cream everyday from milk . The process requires a lot of patience and one has to believe the fact that milk contains cream and that can be extracted . That cream was later converted into ghee . With this small reference ,i knew with hard work we can do beautiful things. Other similar instances from my maternal grandma's activities are also mentionable i.e one can scan through 100 kg of rice in one go , looking for presence of small stone pieces or foreign particles not belonging to rice "community" , we can separate two pulses from each other ,last but not the least, one can wake up at "4am" in the morning. Only requirement is belief, supplemented by hard work and sense of urgency. Of course ,later on with experience as we become good at things we do routinely.

5: Learn good things from others : Washing cloths , cleaning utensils , cooking. I did not know these things until i did know i need to perform that activity.I thought ," What is the solution ? isn't it simple?". How mom used to do this task?It's wonderful to know , that you know things from others , in their style. As i wash cloths , i know i'm using mom's algorithm. When i keep a backup plan , i know mom does the same way. When i leave earlier than usual to catch a train , that is dad's way. The arrogance , which i show sometimes ,is from my elder brother. In addition many attributes of mine have come to me from my friends , but that will be other topic of discussion. As middle class we do take help from others and learn from them as well. This can qualify as middle class value.

6: Ignore and adjust :This has been another keyword which i try to work on. I still remember the day when i had to go away from family to carry on with life from boarding school . Mantra given to me was , you need to adjust with different people.
The end result has been , as most of the times i was reserved and was cautious with the fact that how much words i use with whom . I did manage to get good friends in the process.On broader side, we can not be friends with everyone, but this doesn't
mean we should have enemies. Sometimes we have to compromise for mutual good. This is evident in international arena as well ex. India and china are not friends for sure ,with due respect to "Hindi-chini-bhai-bhai" slogan , but our trade volume is
certainly very high.

The quest to understand middle class values is life long . There is always scope to improve on all values identified and one can always discover new ones.

Before closing : India Unbound is certainly one of better books i have read . Reading the book was simply fascinating and great learning experience as well . I can happily say , I am better person after reading this book. The concepts and ideas
described in the book will define me in future and will be guiding force for me.