Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What's wrong with that?

PK, one of my favorite blogger has posed a series of questions to our NRI brethren. He wonders why an average NRI always cribs about the problems of India while keeping mum about the ills of their adopted country. Aren't there problems in their new country ? Just to be sure, PK lists a few in US and Europe.

While I may not agree with the focus and the message of this post, I must applaud PK for gently provoking a well mannered debate over this which has attracted 125+ comments. (I wish I could get double digit comment for any of my post.. let alone three digits..).

The strength of a society lies in its inherent ability to retrospect, take criticisms do course corrections as needed and move ahead. Every society, country has its own laundry list of problems and challenges. That shouldn't preclude anyone from talking about issues as they fit.

PK: Just as you have views on the America's inner city neighborhoods and its war on terrorism, folks sitting on the other side also have their views on the stuff they have seen, experienced or heard in their country of origin. What's wrong with that?
  • What's wrong with an NRI complaining about rude and atrocious behavior of Chennai Autos, who seem to have scant respect for their clients and the law of the land. Is it not true?
  • What's wrong with an NRI complaining about the infrastructure woes of Chennai or India? Aren't they not true?
  • What's wrong with an NRI complaining about the corrupt political system of India? Isn't it the biggest bane of the Indian society today?
Why get defensive about these stuff? Why not have the strength to face it rather than sulk. India should face up to these issues and fix them and make it the best possible place for anyone to live and cherish anywhere in the world.

I don't see anything wrong with anyone pointing out any issues. It is up to the respective parties to evaluate and use as they see fit.


  1. I do pay thru my nose to auto chaps, when I pay Rs 30 instead of 20, from/to Spencer Plaza and where I live (probably few minutes walking distance!).


  2. Sir

    Thanks for this :)
    I myself have commented and vented my anger about some of the things in India. So its not like i am against anyone criticising India. I certainly am not defensive here.

    To add to it, i've given a few suggestions or topics on which NRIs can write about when they r really bored of pet topics. I know a lot of them feel strongly about those issues and yet they do not write it in their blogs. They talk about it in person all the time. All i'm asking is 'Why not'?

    Moreover, i'm saying if someone sits in US and keep on harping abt whats bad in India, its not very different from arm chair critics in India. We have enough of them. If someone want to be just one of those, its their prerogative. But my respect for them will be the same as those arm chair critics we have here.

    And finally, if someone thinks its a disgrace to come to India, please dont come. This is just to spare themselves from some headache. I believe this is what i've written about in my post and writing here too.

    Bottomline: I'm very clear that NRIs are not extra terrestrial ; but i've seen some who think they are indeed one.

  3. Visu,

    PK is a great guy and a good friend of mine. That said...

    PK wants the NRI to crib about US ( or wherever he/she is) and India too.

    I also feel that his anger is more towards American NRI's.

    What's youv'e asked is a valid question.

  4. Vijay
    I hear you.. Chennai Auto woes are legendary..

    Thanks for being a good sport..
    I am sure there are few NRIs who have a 'chip on their' shoulders.. and I can find the same amongst the local crowd too.. (watch some 'nattamai' movies and you get feeling they have come from some other planet or superhumans / gods or something..).. My take on those guys is 'simply ignore'..

    I see there are too many 'holy cows' in India and don't take criticisms very well... Every country / religion / group has this 'lakshman rekha'/ Rubicon thing and I feel India has drawn it rather close to itself..

    We are what we are.. We have a lot of strengths and plenty of issues to deal with and so let's go ahead and work on them.. rather than spending energies on some NRIs (with a chip on their shoulders'.)

    btw: Last I checked, none of the NRIs I know had any 'wings' or 'walking on water' kind of skills..

    Yes..I enjoy PK's posts and even beyond that .. he is great human being to know.. no two words about that..

  5. The problem with PK's assumptions.
    I 've been living away from India for over 40 years and I am an activist about the causes I believe in whether it is local, national or global. I've participated in various protests whether it is the 'Nam war, or job discrimination or housing discrimination because of color.There are lot more issues I can mention.
    I can't understand PK's irritation for the overseas citizens of India's efforts to point out the problems from their unique vantage point. They are not forcing down anything down PK's are his fellow Indians as solutions by using their money power or thuggery. On the contrary his fellow Indians and the politicans they support them do. They comment about India because they want to be proud of their motherland and want to see in their life time a better and sucessful India.
    Pk has a choice of not visiting these blogs or after reading a few lines just bolt to a porn site or a spiritual site whichever he fancies.
    His arguement is without proper facts and has received more than 15 secs of internet worthy attention time.


  6. Please not another blog war. NV sir and Ram that whole post was triggered not just ordinary whining but by some blanket statement by another blogger. I'm not sure if Ram knows the whole story or not. Whining is one thing but passing unwanted judgement on the nation is totally different, even though the other blogger did not mean it that way. Looked alone pk's post will be taken totally out of context, as our politicians say pk would have been misquoted.

    It's time Indian blogspora forget the acrimonious debate and move forward.

  7. Aanalum namma NV Sirkku kurumbu jaasthi. Paavan Sundar blogla Anon kooda oru vaakuvadham arambichu adhu ippo pakkavaadhama vandhu mudinjirukku :-0)

  8. I think I agree with PK on this issue. I work with an organization where there is an equal mix of expats/ Indian americans and Indians. There is a clear divide between these two kinds. Probing on why this has been happening, I found myself hanging out with the expat crowd a few days go. These guys constantly talk dirty about Chennai and compare it to places like Italy, Rome and Boston. Would these 25 year olds not have read about what they would find in India before they arrived here ? Once having arrived here, they need to accept the place for what it is...they can't complain constantly about men and women using the footpaths to pee...simply because they have never visited a pubic toilet. My point is Chennai is not the cleanest place in the world, our auto drivers are rowdies, our television channels are monopolized but then we are an evolving democracy and things will change. And most importantly, you have get down and get dirty to drive the change.

  9. So...taking you one step closer to those double digits.

    I really don't see anything wrong in criticizing your own country/city. Specially if your adopted country/city simply offers you more. I am very young compared to you and have not seen much "life". I did the whole R2I thing after finishing my studies and was very disappointed. I had to escape.

    Whats wrong with criticizing a place where it takes 10 times longer to get anything done. Where you have to pay bribes to get things that are rightfully yours. Where you are respected as a human only if you have good "connections" or a fat wallet. Cannot really trust anyone, breath clean fresh air!!!. A lot of the people using the pavement for their morning business are doing so because they dont have an option. If you are not rich in India you are not human, Nithari killings are a prime example, human life is so cheap!!! I want to ask the people complaining about bashing India, have you ever been to a public hospital?

    Someone who goes to another place where most of the things work like they should, your efforts are properly rewarded, society is very accepting will surely feel the difference. In India one does not even get acceptance in the society even if you move from North India to South India. Things like post Godhra riots (worst example of human hatred) are unheard of in some countries. The discrimination experienced by Indians abroad is exaggerated and many times it is simply a cultural misunderstanding (I am not saying that it does not happen).

    If India was such a nice place to live why would anyone who can and who has the resources is trying so hard to move out of the country (legally or illegally) This speaks a lot about the country. Most of people who are Ring2I are the people who have lived abroad for a long time and have made their fortune. They have a lot of money , a US/UK/SomeRichCountry citizenship or a permanent residence and they know that there is a lot of money to be made in India.

    The developed countries have built a high standard of living for their citizens and are also willing to share with visiting workers and immigrants. This did not happen overnight, there are a lot of factors responsible for their prosperity and they have all paid the price. While it is important to be proud of your own country and feel patriotic it is simply foolish of overlook the very obvious flaws. Rude taxi drivers, corrupt politicians people peeing on the street are not really the problem but the symptom of the problem. The real problem is that Indian society, culture collapsed a long time ago and now most Indians' attitude is that of a scavenger.

    Although India is starting to turn around. A country that had famines 60 years ago is now one of the major exporters of wheat. The population explosion(a major problem obviously) is evidence that there is better care for the newborns and the mothers and that they are not dying like they used to. This list could go on. The developed countries have their problems too... no one is perfect. The US prison system, the state of the inner cities, health care for seniors and social security are major problems but compared to some Indian problems they don't even look like problems.

    I want to end on a happy note and say that I am hopeful about India but I feel that just more money will never solve Indian problems, there needs to be a gradual social change. And since India has become the new darling of various US multinationals and several country heads want to romance her things do look good. But I just don't think it will happen in 50 years like many are predicting but maybe 150.

    Anyway I would like to hear your thoughts about this.



  12. Hey, double digit for Ram. ellorum oru O podunga.

  13. karthik s
    Yes.. I do not know about the other post you are talking about.. but I see this as healthy debate..
    Thanks.. a 'O' podu for myself..

    Yes.. NRIs are not extra terrestial by any 'stretch' of imagination.. but my point is why not examine if there is any merit to their 'cribs' and take them for it is than to 'advise' them go look in their own backyard..

    My take is India (or for that matter any country or anyone's) strength comes from its ability to introspect / examine do course correction and move on. Every country has its own laundry list of problems and issues.. so, why not examine them for what they are make India the best possible place to inhabit?

    I see there is growing intolerance in our society to take / handle criticism.. Every society has that threshold and it seems to be rather low for us.

    Yes.. PK is a great guy.. I like his delivery and his innate ability to communicate rather succinctly. that's exactly the reason why I did this post..

    I am not sure if you have observed this.. some folks 'complain' a lot.. I would just see them as they are not tag them NRIs or Locals.. NRI click that you are talking about is possibly because they have something 'common' to talk about.. say 'Super bowl' or something..

    Thanks for taking me to double digits..
    Every country has its share of woes and the list and the context is different that's all..

  14. NRIs directly and indirectly contribute to the Economy of India. NRIs keep India in high esteem and respect. My experience with all of the NRIs is they always praise India and its rich culture when they talk to White and colored Americans and any other foreign national, while seriously debating with Indian counterparts about the Indian living conditions and mentality. What is wrong with that? NRI do not mean any ill will.

    It does not matter which country one lives. We will have hardcore puritanical conditioned believers who cannot stand constructive criticism.


  15. Raman
    Good point.. I have observed this aspect on many of my Indian friends in US too..