Thursday, September 23, 2010

We Compromising Indians

Ever since Kalmadi bashing started I’ve stopped watching other programs on TV and preferred watching the news coverage of our preparation rather the lack of it for the Commonwealth Games known as CWG. I was not surprised that teams from different countries wanted to pull out for the ‘unlivable’ conditions in the games village. It is perhaps due to the difference in Indian and International standards as Mr. Bhanot rightly pointed out.

I really feel delighted. Delighted at Mr. Bhanot’s comment that the Indian definition of hygiene was not the same as that in the western world. Rather the developed countries seem to have an atrociously high standard for clean toilets. What seems okay for us seems to appear filthy to them. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am all in support of the gentleman. It is not as if we are talking of the living room or dining area. A bathroom is after all a place for cleaning one’s system and flushing out digestive wastes. And yet they want it to be sparkling, It is no wonder that more than 50% of Indians relieve themselves in public places. That way there will be no accountability and we Indians including Mr. Lalit Bahnot love the situation where one does not have to account for his/her action. I hope he plans to hand out aluminium or brass ‘lotas’ and train the delegates to relieve themselves on the banks of the Yamuna. They are bound to enjoy the experience and have a lot to share with their family when they return. Think of the atrociously high price the organizers could quote for the 'lotas' and the money it could fetch. Mr. Bhanot, I hope you are listening.

And look at the furor over paan stains in the corridors of the buildings marked out for the CWG. I don’t blame the westerners. They sip wine and smoke cigars. So they really do not understand how difficult it is for paan chewing Indians. But the way our media goes on and on about a few paan stains is disgusting. You can climb the stairs of any government office including the Secretariat in state capitals. People chew tobacco and beetle leaves and spit it out before entering the office of the high and mighty who they plan to meet. After all it does not look good to stand in front of an officer chewing tobacco or paan. He may ask you a question and in your effort to answer him you may end up spitting it on his spotlessly clean suit, polished floor or anywhere within a radius of 5 meters from him. Lalu Prasad Yadav had a party worker following him with silver spittoon wherever he went. Not everyone can boast of the facility. Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry? So as long as people chew tobacco and paan, corridors of government offices and national monuments have every chance of looking colorful with bright stains all over the place. We actually need to have people trained to interpret our unique paan chewing culture to our visitors. May be we could get a few of them addicted so that the next time around they will not be shocked or knocked out of their senses.

As for Mr. Manishankar Iyer, the man seems to practice black magic. The elements seem to be controlled by him. The Delhi CM is at wit’s end. The rains just will not stop. No wonder a bridge here and a roof there have started giving way. Come on Mr. Iyer, I agree that those in the government as well as those outside it called you anti - national when you opposed the conduction of the commonwealth games on the grounds that the money involved could be used for other development projects. But should you go to the extent of invoking the Rain God and getting him to lash out on sports lovers? The way things stand India may be the only participating country and the few loyals who still want to cheer them may not even reach the venues. The rains just have to stop before more structures collapse and disrupt the smooth(?) flow of traffic.

But I am not surprised. The head of an institution slaps a gatekeeper in the presence of 200 students for being unable to control a frenzied mob single handedly and the officer in charge of the nearest police station advices the man not to annoy his higher ups. Instead of worrying about his safety and insisting on better security arrangements, the labor union refuses to take up his case saying that he was guilty of having neglected his duty. A young girl with a promising future dies under mysterious circumstances and her colleagues insist on a post-mortem but her father refuses to pursue the case saying that it would affect the lives of his remaining children since her in laws had powerful connections. Another girl with an equally promising career is murdered for dowry and her husband manages to be acquitted due to lack of evidence. Within months he remarries without his credentials being ever questioned. Isn’t this laid back attitude at least partly responsible for the substandard levels in every important aspect of our lives? We would rather cough up a percentage as bribe than await our turn in the normal course. We want it to have it easy all the time – so what if we have become a laughing stock to the world in the run up to the commonwealth games and a few have become richer. Was perhaps their destiny that worked overtime? The debate will continue for a few weeks, some may be arrested and released for want of concrete proof and we will start planning for the next national waste of the taxpayer’s money.

I started this piece as a satire but I end it with agony and shame hoping that at least a few valuable lessons will be learnt from this unfortunate chapter in Indian History.


Anonymous said...

Oh god, you said it! I also blogged about it yesterday. I cannot imagine how unclean toilets can be a matter of relative cleanliness! Disgusting!

dr.antony said...

According to Management Guru C.K.Prahalad , the cost of corruption to the country might as well exceed Rs. 250,000 crores.

The total spending for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections is pegged at a whopping Rs. 10,000 crore.The breakup of this spending throws up some interesting insights too.

Rs 1,300 crore (Rs 13 billion) by the Election Commission..
Rs 700 crore (Rs 7 billion) by the Centre and state governments..
Rs 8,000 crore (Rs 80 billion) were spent by political parties and individual candidates!!!
8000 crore spent by political parties and individual candidates ? Where do they get hold of this kind of money to spend?

Who cares where the athletes piss or defecate? In Kerala,we are well known to pee around the toilets ,and never in to it. The public toilets would be filled with feces and the drains blocked on the inaugural day itself.You said it right.We have to train the visitors on the Indian way of nature toilets.Part of nature tourism.!

Civic sense is a character which makes us different from animals.I don't know what more to say.
Excellent post.

Renu said...

Corruption has reached a real high level, now only stron electorate can do something..I detest the peopole who are bringing so much of shame to the country.

Phoenixritu said...

And some Indians sms us to not blog about our CWG shame since foreigners may be reading .....


hillgrandmom said...

So shameful and I feel thoroughly ashamed. But in some way we are all to blame aren't we? There are so many of us who easily drop garbage out of car windows, drop sweet wrappers where they stand or throw a bag of garbage outside on the street knowing full well there is no collection point there. For us it is always someone else's job!

baruk said...

you might be interested in this link. it talks of *why the village was so filthy.

i have lived in similar places, and honestly, my shame is not that visiting athletes see this side of india, but that my family and friends do.

Madhu said...

First time at your blog. very nice post.
What I think is, CWG is where many countries come together. When we agreed to host the games, the least we can do is show the guests some respect and create circumstances under which their comfort is assured. That's not too much to ask! If that was too much, then why even agree to host the games? "Atidhi devo Bhava", whatever happened to that!

The corruption seemed to have hit new heights. Every international sports channel is showing this now, much to India's embarrassment.

Hip Grandma said...

shilpadesh:i think we are all to blame.we do criticize a person littering the place with waste paper but never pick it up and throw it into a dust bin.Nor do we bother to tell the offender that his behaviour is unacceptable.naturally the culprits of the mess called CWG think that the Indians can be 'managed'.i read your post was well put.

Dr.antony:Every day throws up a new egg on our face.It was snakes found in the atheletes room today.i hang my head in shame.i have no words to convey my distress.

Renu:The electorate in India is for some reason very laid back.If not these looters could not have gotten away with the shoddy preparation and colossal waste of public money. Lessons have to be learnt -even if by the hard way.

Phoenixritu:I agree that there nothing more unpleasant than airing out the shortcomings of our own organizers and government. But isn't it better that we show the world that all Indians are not the same as Mr.Lalit Bhanot? After BBC puts up pictures of paan stains and unclean toilets can we stop the world from pointing fingers at us by not blogging about it?i feel that iblogging about it amounts to admitting our shortcomings and is the first step towards making amends.

hillgrandmom:The luke warm response to this post is indicative of the fact that we like to sit back and watch never rise up and act. To many this is another case of corruption. and so what, it happens all the time and everywhere.

baruk:Thank you for the link and welcome here.The link exposed another aspect of planning failure.I've forwarded it to a few like minded people.

madhu:thanks for dropping by.The games were hosted to loot public money and fill a few pockets including foreign ones.Fennel and Hooper were also beneficiaries.They knew very well that the preparations were unsatisfactory.They should resign from their posts as well as tried at International courts for compromising with the interests of sportsmen and sportslovers.

radha said...

We should ask Lalit Bhanot and Kalmadi to live in the Games Village for atleast a night. We could then figure out what their idea of cleanliness and hygiene is all about.

nourish-n-cherish said...

I vented too - here

I wish we can have the sense enough to pull out early and say we are not ready to host the games yet. Be brave and honest about it.

Hip Grandma said...

radha:Yes we should. they won't understand otherwise.

saumya:Welcome back.i thought you had given up reading me. thanks for the link. We indians are for ever underprepared. the National Games which were to be held in Jharkhand have been postponed for the 6th time. I'll definitely go thro' your piece.i was wondering if I was wrong in blogging about this mess called CWG.reading other posts eases my guilty mind a bit.

Sandhya said...

A thoughful post.

I am wondering if Mr Iyer was right when he was against CWG! How much more money will be invested now to fix the collapsed bridges, clean up toilets, remove stains etc?

Talking of hygiene, isnt it the general mindset of most people that 'someone else will clean, they are paid for that, isnt it'? The day this mindset changes to 'I better clean the mess I create', the hygiene levels will be good.


Thoughts forever said...


I have nothing to comment right now since i already blogged about it in my blog..

For me its not one who is responsible all of them are responsible..I dont want any leader to rule my country...i am fed up with this...

Its not that who has to change, its we People who have to change and change a lot and in turn change our country...

If one child breaks a traffic rule i scold their parents cause that is where they learn from...Role models are the important thing that matters...There is very less chance that your role model is right and you are wrong.


Hip Grandma said...

sandhya:Yes you are right. We Indians do not think twice before spitting on the road or littering the place with paper wraps and stuff. If each one of us set a higher standard of hygiene and cleanliness and practise it sincerely we would not become laughing stocks in the eyes of the world.

Thoughts forever:unfortunately we do not have role models to follow. from parents included, our children get the message that a rule here and a law there can be broken, palms can be greased for undue favors. Is it any wonder that the likes like Kalmadi think they can get away with the kind of shoddy show that is put up. will check out your post.

Thoughts forever said...

No no..I am not saying that they should get away with what they have done..but what i am saying is its we who are letting them get away...

As i already said all of us have to react and say we dont want games we are not gonna watch it..we cant accept this attitude that we can do anything and people will accept it...which is ofcourse the attitude of the politicians right now...

They organised games which inturn went wrong...and then now they set up everything at last moment and we are the ones who go to the stadium, who watch TV and then they accept us...yeh log hai hi aise..hum kuch bhi karenge at the end accept tho inko karna pad raha hai...


Sandhya said...

I feel that it is the parents who need to set an example to their kids about practising good hygiene and having good manners. The kids will pass these habits on the next generation. From my experience, I now see my daughter pushing her chair back to its place when we leave the hotel, because she sees my husband and me do that. It is nothing great, but just a basic courtesy to be followed. We do not have to tell kids, we do it and they follow..that is all. Another thing that we make sure she learns to throw things in the dust bin and not litter around. I am not trying to boast here. Only trying to make a point that we do things correctly and kids follow the same.

I am reminded of a comment by a German friend of my husband who attended our wedding. On our way to my husband's place, in the train, we were having our lunch in paper plates. One of the relatives, asked the German friend, who was sitting near window, to move so that he could throw the plate. The friend said "oh carry on, it is your country". I was very much affected by that comment which translated to "ahh you are littering your own country and you do not seem to caring about that". From then on, my resolution regarding not to litter around became stronger.

Sorry for occupying so much space. Just wanted to share my thoughts.