By U. Mahesh Prabhu
When I was growing up several of my relatives had been to United States, either for education or work. They were certainly the finest in their chosen areas of profession and/or education. Within few years in United States their financial prosperity was highly visible. They would return with hi-fi gizmos and gadgets. They would speak English with the typical American accent, one that would lure middle class parents and pursue them to ensure that their children achieved the same.
‘See my child… you need to study well and score good marks. Because if you don’t you will not be able to get into Engineering and achieve that success what your uncles/cousins have achieved.’ Was a common statement that which several parent in my place you would have seen saying to me, or people like me. The parent, of the US returned people, would be so proud that they wouldn’t stop bragging about their kid’s achievements. ‘What!!! your son is just 70%? Then what is he going to do about his life? That marks will certainly not land him in US. When my son comes I would get him counseled… Don’t you worry.’ are some of the many statements that have baffled me for so long.
Let me admit, I wasn’t good in studies. At least not as much as these USR (United States Returned, as the way I put it) had been. I was between 50-60% until my 10th grade. And this was the one required criterion that would end me up listening to, what I used to dub as, ‘Pravachans’ (Holy Sermons) from those people. I was pestered so much by their words that I began to believe that I wouldn’t be anything in life. ‘You are a failure this way.’ is what they said me, time and again.
But I was not the one who would listen to their words and give up. I protested, and openly. But who would stand by me? My protests were to misfire. I was, of course, the victim. Thankfully, by the grace of god, I didn’t turn out to be an anti-social element, or a Naxalite.
Recently when I was in a coffee shop in Mangalore, called Coffee Day, I happen to glance over a tabloid styled magazine, kept over the table, called ‘Café Beat’. It had a very interesting cover story – ‘INDIA IS IN!’ It said followed by ‘Young students, artists, software guys and BPO execs tell us why India is the new land of opportunity’ in the next line. ‘God, do they really mean it!’ I thought for myself, before I could have my cup of cappuccino, only to go through the story.
The first paragraph was promising enough, at least for me, which read: ‘The new millennium is not a decade old yet and already Bollywood has grown up. In the past few years the Hindi film industry has set the tone for the rebirth of a proud new Indian-ness, without resorting to any jingoistic cliché’s. The new India doesn’t believe we’re better than the world; it knows we’re on par. We celebrate being Indian and enjoy the challenges of being a Big player…’ The article was a graphical presentation of the statements of the interviewees and had several wise words to say.
A 25 year old Artist was found on record saying ‘I am proud of our traditions and customs when it comes to relationships and respect for women. But there is still a lot of work to be done in the field of politics. For instance, I would propose that politicians go through a probationary period where they have to do social work. Based on their performance, they will be elected. This will ensure that our leaders are more concerned of the state of affairs than affairs of the state’. 23 year old student would say ‘Even if I go abroad to work I would want my children to grow up in India. A deep-rooted aspect of our culture that impresses me is respect for parents and elders. The majority of Indians would never misbehave in front of their parents’ further adding, rather cheekily, ‘It’s a different thing that they do behind their parent’s back.’ I was also happy to note about the national allegiance expressed by one interviewee whose statement read as: ‘I need to give back to my country and my people something of what I have received. I find the culture, heritage and ethics incomparable to any other country in this world. People here are very transparent and we have a value system that is unshakable. The food in India is another specialty that is unique, localized and yum!’
I was mesmerized for a moment, and rather completely. ‘Oh my god could this be true?’ I asked myself. But somehow I found out that people who were interviewed were from Bangalore only. Immediately I would recall what my friend Sir Adam Clapham had told to me about. Few months before he had been called on to deliver a lecture at a premier college in the city of Mangalore. Mr. Clapham who happened to be a British, now residing in Mangalore, thought it would be perfectly ideal to speak of ‘being Indian’. In his words he educated everyone there as to why he feels they should stay in India than pursuing a future abroad. He had seen the world practically for over 5 decades. He knows exactly what is right and wrong there, but after his speech – for which he was given a laudable applause by the students – the principle of the college, who happened to be a Reverend Father, went on record to say that he did not subscribe to Clapham’s words as he thought that problem in the west was because of poor family planning. ‘God be with him’ is what I though of that priest.
The priest, it seemed to me, was like any other parent of my generation. He still wants all Indians to go abroad earn lot of money and settle there. If my readings are not wrong the situation is so in major part of educational institution in India. Everyone even today is with a dream of working in the US. At least they want their kids to be in a foreign owned Multi-national. Why so? I think that is nothing but a blind craze.
Recently when I spoke to my charismatic friend whose company, Robosoft Technologies Private Limited, own a remarkable landmark as corporate head quarters in the outskirts of Udupi, he would tell me of the problem he would face during his formative years. He owed his strength, of coming back to his home town with no great dollars in pockets only to start an IT enterprise, to his family. ‘If I wouldn’t have them I may have never returned back.’ He stated, rather proudly. It is, indeed, easy to grow faster after a particular limit but before that you have to struggle a lot. During that struggle you have to rely on none but your family. And because not many parents motivate their children to be in Town and do something worthwhile, is the reason for us not having any great new business enterprises here, after banking revolution.
It is indeed interesting to inform you that: Today several of my cousins are coming back from United States to India. ‘Are they really coming back for their love for India?’ Is certainly a very doubting question for these were the same people who abused this land which I loved, and shall continue to love, so much. They would make fun of my, though rather ‘immature’, patriotism, then, now they are ‘acting’ as if they are doing the great sacrifice for their Nation. Be that as it may – I am happy to have them back here for they would do, at least, something for this land. ‘Abusing the people who abuse us’ is never ever our tradition – never shall it be. If I would request these people that would be ‘Please don’t motivate the generation here to go and work during their formative years in a foreign land!’
Thankfully the true face of the west is fast becoming visible to us. Thanks a ton to the Internet and the global media houses. But still as many people (read parents) in this country, like in Mangalore, don’t turn enough to those medias they are still in their, what I prefer to call, ‘cocoon’ world – continuing to believe that the life exists only there, and not here. The power of the money, I must say, is tremendous, especially, when it is in Pounds and Dollars. You can seldom say ‘No’ to it.
Yes, I agree, the country isn’t completely developed yet. If you take a look at Bangalore one part of the world of IT, BT and BPO, is getting as sophisticated, by western standards, while other, likes of Textile industry, which, though being largest revenue earner to the Government, continues to be among the most pathetic employers. It is so painful to learn that while an engineer, in Bangalore, earns INR 20,000 a mill worker on the other has to be content with just INR 4,000, or even less.
Many IT professionals, including those who were interviewed by the aforesaid magazine, may never even know this fact. After all do they have any time left after their 18 hour long working hours? Of course they have a weekend leave on Saturday and Sunday, but that’s the time to date and party – blow your cash you have earned, for the last 5 days, on your ‘loved’ ones. Given this, where is the time to even read a news paper? No, I am not blaming anyone, but I am trying to say simply that we should stop considering the point that ‘our pleasure lies in ourselves’ we need to realize that ‘Giving is priceless and enduring.’
To end the disparity and strengthen this land in every sense we need to realize three important words – Patriotism, Selflessness and Dedication, truly adhered in every sense. These three are the magic words, and only, that can make India, i.e. Bharath, truly great. Let’s profess them to our, and the coming, generations.
Author is Editor-In-Chief of Aseemaa: Journal for National Resurgence.