Wednesday, July 19, 2006

He Versus Me...

I looked at the adversary sitting next to me in the darkness. Only our voices spoke to each other. We were like boxers trading punches, not yielding any ground to the other. Noone had derided me, questioned my ideals and labelled me ignorant in quite a long time and what began as a discussion between my pal, Sreehari doing his masters at Haryana Agri University in Hissar where I was visiting him ended up becoming a debate, argument or quarrel as our constrasting beliefs clashed, depending on how a third person percieved the situation. I thought it worth to share with you all some of the stuff we talked as Sreehari's ideas and thoughts are on a plane different from many of us and though I couldnt agree with him on much, its nice to read about the alternative socio-politici-economic systems others think should be in place of the one we fortunately or unfortunately have in place now.

He: I dont agree with the IT Boom happening now, the BPO revolution we see now is making India a slave. Instead of asserting our creative energies we are working cheaply for Uncle Sam and his cronies, bcoz it costs them more there.
Me: Look at the number of jobs this has generated. Havent you thought of the huge urban unemployment crisis that would have been created. For 50 years before the mid-90's what creative resource channelling have we done. Atleast the Brain Drain stands reversed today.

He: Why dont you open your eyes to reality? We are being recolonized again. The WB and IMF keeps pumping in funds and we recieve with open arms. Do you know anything about the Chinese Model and that they dont beg for aid.
Me: In 1991 we were on verge of default and about to pledge our gold. The economic reforms we undertook thanks to the conditional aid they gave us has rejuvenated atleast a part of India. It is the West's helplessness of their lack of manpower to leverage the technological revolution that they are turning to India. It is fiction that our billing rates are dirt cheap. I know Infy bill at more than $25 an hour which is more than my first salary in the US.

He: 65% of India is dependent on agriculture. Compare this with US where only 2% lives on agriculture. Ignoring agri and villages in not the way to gun for development.
Me: I agree. But if you put things in proper perspective you will find that coz we have solved the problem of urban unemployement to a great extent the govt has been freed to pursue rural development now. Havent you read how NREGP, Bharat Nirman and PURA are all doing good work.

He: Gandhi's call to go back to villages and the self-sufficiency inherent in that model would have saved India. The bastard Nehru's socialist industrialisation programme ruined everything.
Me: Cant you guage the enormous amount of responsibilities Nehru worked under. There were communal riots, states reorganization, the kashmir problem, refugees, etc and then india was lacking in any sort of industrialization and only the govt had means to invest money. Until the 1st FYP and 1957 our focus was entirely on agriculture b4 Nehru changed focus to industries and in 1960's green revolution came and we had a food surplus.

He: Whats the use? They havent implemented land reforms except in WB and Kerala. Kerala has been ruined by joining the Indian Union. We were a self-sufficient state. We had the leading spice trade in the world. Today we have to beg to India for everything.
Me: Would Kerala have been able to pay the salaries of our huge edu and medical and other govt employees with just the spices trade? It is meaningless to conjecture separatism today. No state in India can survive by itself. You are not looking for ways to improve the current system but just ranting and raving at it. I have an Indian identity and there are millions of malayalis like me who are proud of it.

Me: Look at Smart City. So many people would have got jobs. That land lies waste now.
He: We dont need Smart City. It is obvious from T&C's that Smart City is a fraud and eitherway if jobs come from selling our land and resources to foreigners to do dirt-cheap work, we dont need those jobs.

He: You are speaking for your class. I expected you to have a voice for the underpriviledged. You are just another bourgeousie.
Me: You speak from outside the system. Your grouse is you feel frustrated at not being able to be part of the changes the 91 reforms brought about. You havent attempted to see the change through millions of young people who can dream of good jobs now and you doint attempt to find out how we can channel these changes to rural India too.

He: You are ignorant and unable to percieve things better. Your class always wants to keep the poor in chains. You are hiding in the convenience of pragmatism like thousands of Indians and dont want any meaningful change in our feudal system.
Me: You speak of idealism and utopian change when it is so hard to bring changes in present system. Good things are happening and you are blind to it coz the changes are not happening the way yo want them to. You look only at the negatives. I am frustrated at your inability to see even a little silver lining.

We ended it there. It had taken harsh tones. We had to use words that fell below the normal courtesies among friends. Somehow we relaxed. An unspoken agreement to not talk on these issues emered. The rest of my time in Hissar was spent in malayalam songs, old memories of schoolife, a junior of his who entertained us to some soulful rendering of Hindustani vocal and a little sightseeing. Meanwhile I am pissed at Manmohan that while he urges G-8 leaders to take a strong stand on terrorism while the best stand he could do was block bloggers like us from talking to the world. Now I want to take you to another scene, another conversation, what you read may disturb you. All this happens only in India!

First Friend: I am sad man. My mind is telling me to cheat. I know I fall in the creamy layer. Its so easy to get an income certificate and so much easier to crack the civil services through the OBC reservation. What should I do?
Second: I made a mistake. I didnot know my community was notified as an OBC. This time I wrote in the General Category. But next time I'll fix it.
Third(a Mallu): When others are manipulating the system why should we be left behind. I decided long back that I would make use of OBC reservation.
Myself(a little uncomfortable, yet unable to muffle a smile): Do you guys know what Narayanamurthy said, "India must be the only country where people fight to be called backward".

Smiles all around. My point was made for a little time but will soon be forgotten. In India our youth are taught to survive at all costs. Morality can come later!


joseph said...

Scary to Read :(...
Esp the line ..... "Today we have to beg to India for everything."

silverine said...

You are right, in India we are taught to survive at all costs. What a quagmire we are

Fantastic post!!!

Kurur said...

Interesting post. I have had similar experiences while conversing with friends/acquaintances. With them, I have felt that more than idealism it is ideology that clouds their perceptions.

Jiby said...

jofu, yup it was really shocking to have this dicussion with him...anyone else i would have had this discussion with, i would have parted ways but chairman was real ernest with all he said.

silverine, yeah its a real messy situation and to compound all our problems we have a govt that shows us that it pays to cheat!

sandeep, i was wondering all thru our discussion if it was his ideology or idealism speaking...but he was so assured of his thesis i struggled to keep pace.

Anonymous said...

i just discovered your blog today and spent hours reading your posts and i still haven't read enough..Excellent! Being a half mallu i felt closer to that part of my heritage while reading your posts. Thanks! The college and school day anecdotes brought back a lot of memories for me as well. Wishing you every sucess. Here's to more of the excellent wriring that you do.

Sarah said...

I guess it is true..only in India people want to be in the class system.. I had a friend from a well to do family wanted to be in SC/ST..he used to go for all the strikes claiming he is "avasha kristiani" he too should be in the SC/ST.. Ultimate intention..medicine admission..
I was a bit taken aback to read about begging to India for everything.. some how I can't imagine a separate Kerala from India..

Anonymous said...

Me: Look at Smart City. So many people would have got jobs. That land lies waste now.
He: We dont need Smart City. It is obvious from T&C's that Smart City is a fraud and eitherway if jobs come from selling our land and resources to foreigners to do dirt-cheap work, we dont need those jobs.

Was it the other way? Only on this the ME has come before HE?

joseph said...

Yes.... I can feel the ernesty in which chair spoke...
Hopefully be able to understand and see a solution that makes all of us happy.

Jiby said...

lavanya, thanks a lot. hope u will keep coming back. yeah i am planning to write more on school and college but write nowadays i have so many of my school and college friends around me its hard to feel that nostalgia.

sarah, that was exactly my point...these guys came from well-to-families and very good education...yet they look for freebies. when i visualise a seperate kerala from india, i see water wars with tamil nadu, ppl taking work visas to go work at blore and a communist dictatorship in kerala!

lg, no it was exactly as i wrote. there has been no mistake.

jofu, thats what i hope chairman can figure out too and he knows it...a solution that is accepted by all. now i am scared of getting shit from him for writing this post...hehe!

b v n said...

Jiby,the way you have structured the post is intelligent.we'll never be able to reach a conclusion in these so called debates as there is no active thinking from both sides.ppl dont break open from the mould they are in,they jump from one piece of info theyve gathered to another.
And right down in the bottom of our heart,we simply dont give a damn.

Anand K said...

Chairman sure's a difficult person to talk with but I guess his problem is that his exposure to a mish-mash of Marxism plus Spiritualism (dunno if he subscribes to the numberplated school of Marxist Spiritualism as such or he arrived at that conclusion through his experiences and reading) and getting a first hand experience of the grinding poverty and archaic systems of rural India, including Kerala, have led to this sort of angst.
He has a fair idea on WHAT is happening, but not WHY and exactly HOW the system retains most attributes. Naturally, his ideas on what should be done to address theseissues and why the state has been slow in solving this (to a good degree at least) is flawed. He needs to think objectively and out of the bos shorn of any hardcore ideological leanings (everyone has an ideology, centrist-statist is my thing but I try not to let that get in the way of my analysis) to get a better picture IMO.

PS: However, his argument that India is a one-trick pony with her stress on IT and the fact that WB/IMF loans and aid programs are mostly daylight robbery (they are recycled and taken back to their origins or converted to politico-economic "leverages" in the reciever's end at rates that can at best be termed Usury)has quite some merit. If you are aware of IG-Eugene Black-TTK-Ashok Mehta(?) spat in 1967-1969 when IG decided to trust the western camp and tried to start liberalisation you will understand that our roll's actually a classic case of "Tiger by the Tail"...... Plus the quiet efforts in socio-economic and military spheres b/w 1974-1989 (except for the hiatus viz, the dark days of 1990-1991) that allowed us to survive the bear pit of the GATT talks and enter the Liberalisation regime without much damage. The excess stress on one product is what's leading many Oil sheikhdoms, the former Asian Tigers and Venenzuela to their present quagmire.... we should try to avoid that. In fact, the Govt ain't over-relying on IT..... but the popular perception, media hype, value attributed to ICE stocks is dangerous. What needs to be done is to give other fields like health, chemicals, harcore electrical-electronics (where we lag behind considerably) biotech and MOST importantly manufacturing more media space, investor confidence, prominence so that they can grow too.

Oh, look at me ranting in a comments section.... maybe I should do a post on this. Chairman and his comrades Naga, Paili, Raman sure deserve a whole post, eh? ;)

Jiby said...

bvn, you just said what i thought all along. i have never been in a debate where ppl have arrived at a conclusion...especially where a touch of ideology drives the issue!

puppy, well i know u've had ur debates with the left wing in class...this was my first and i just wasnt prepared for what i heard. neways that inspired me to this post. i am dreading the comment from chairman when he sees this post...i am sure he'll tear me apart for writing this one!!

b v n said...

"The partisan, when he is engaged in a dispute, cares nothing about the rights of the question, but is anxious only to convince his hearers of his own assertions.",think all of us are partisans and wetbacks in one way or the other...saw this somewhere...thought i'll put it here...its from Dialogues...Plato's