Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Great Indian Apathy !

Of all the writing that Soliloquist does, so eloquently, I may add, this one stood out for me. The article was about the Indian apathy, and how it was tough to get someone in a crowd, that too a crowd claiming some commonality of purpose (like belonging to the same company), to come out helping out in a tight situation. The blog had concluded this is endemic and named it as a Great Indian Apathy.

I do believe there is apathy that prevails in our society and there is also an implicit acceptance of “fate” and “destiny” for even simpler failures; or attributing somebody else’s discomfort or misfortune to it; and hence no pointing in to getting into the situation or helping out. In spite of all that, I do think people have in them the innate need to help someone else out, when someone is in trouble. Yes, most of them would not put themselves in a situation when it threatens themselves or their loved ones security. Otherwise, I believe they tend to.

As there is an example in that article, here is another – an apt illustration of both ends of the spectrum. For passengers transiting between the international airport to the domestic airport, a bus facility is available to take them, with an hourly frequency or so. Prior to the departure, the passengers wait in a hall, with minimal facilities – but, of all the incongruities, a facility to charge their mobile phones – mirroring the explosive growth of that specific industry. A month ago, I was in one such bus. As the bus was leaving, one old gentleman hurried out asking the driver to wait. As we were waiting, we were treated to two gentlemen (gentlemen is really anomaly), who were loud, irritating and really irreverent to both the situation (middle of the night) and to the people around. The kind of topics they chose to talk to went on the lines of how they could make money of their jobs, how to outwit their management and how things in Mumbai were so bad etc, but safely taking refuge in speaking in their local language. As one of my relatives had said, they were the outstanding example of how IT industry in India has encouraged and nurtured mediocrity. Then the old man returned a bit harried – a person next to him queried as to what happened – apparently the old man had left his phone to charge and forgot about it – by the time he had gone back in for it, that was gone. His neighbour, immediately offered his mobile phone for the old man to call in his number – the old man was a bit tentative, since it was a long distance call, since his phone number was that of Bangalore’s. As this was going, the two idiots went on their view of how futile the whole exercise was. That did not deter the neighbour – he did get the number, called it himself; and gave it again to the old man to keep trying his number, with a hope that someone would answer the call. Unfortunately, nothing came of it.

Somehow I believe, the good neighbour’s name could be Avinash. Or Avinash Pathy. I’d have loved to say “Sol, Meet Avinash or the normal Indian, A. Pathy :-) ”.


~SuCh~ said...

Yes, G.. I met my own A.Pathy s on the day when I had to swallow the Apathy... I am not accusing the entire Indian society of being apathetic... But the thing with us, is that, we lack the basic human courtesies, that one should possess... Our philosophy was that being human, it should be present in everyone of us, and we never bothered to 'tutor' our children on those, as some cultures in the west do.. There was this lady who joined my company new and did not hav a buspass; she was sitting beside me in the bus. The bus cleaner brought out the sheet that asks for people to furnish their bus pass details. She, being a localite, chose to address him in english, which he understood only in parts. When he was not able to give her a clarification, she burst into a fury, all the while admonishin him in english, which any dim-wit could see the guy couldnt follow well. I couldnt take this any longer, and intervened to tell her to mention in writing that she was a new joinee and that she had to apply for the bus pass yet. She wrote what I said verbatim. A little while later, she got a call, i presume it was official, and was I shocked to hear how sugary sweet she sounded !! ..This is what I meant by apathy.

As for the incident mentioned in your post, I had been a benificiary of one such person, when my father (soon to be a senior citizen) forgot to bring his mobile and was stranded in a bus from chennai. I was waiting for him the railway station , with minutes to go for the train.. It was raining heavily and the city's traffic was chocked. This person sitting next to my father, helped him call me. And gave the mobile to him, to recieve the minute-by-minute calls I made. People do exist who help. But the general proclivity is sadly inadequetely low.

"how IT industry in India has encouraged and nurtured mediocrity"

- Is something that always irks me... Undeserving rewards.. And the inability to handle them with gratitude, or atleast equinamity.

EnGeetham aka "My Song!" said...

4sol: Btw thats not apathy - what that girl showed was lack of dignity for labour - somehow in her mind being an ITie was somehow bigger than the ticket-checker in the bus. Thats worse than apathy. Apathy atleast does not hurt mentally; Patronizing condescension and disrespect to someone else's job is more damaging, to the core. Thats one reason, why that ticket-checker would start becoming apathetic!

Tyler Durden said...

True. If one cannot exhibit a basic sense of humanity while doing so many elementary things (like waiting for a lift, escalator, signal, free-left) it doesn't matter how much you earn or what sector one belongs to. Heck, it is all the more shameful if one claims to be from "my-current-employment-is-the-one-
that-makes-lotta-money-than-yours" field. Sometimes I really think we should go back to the olden days of rewards vs punishment. The better you claim to be, the harsher your punishment would be.

EnGeetham aka "My Song!" said...

4Tyler: Yes, I agree. I plan to write one more on "apathy" and "dignity of labor" ;)