Sunday, May 8, 2011

Why are we Indians so uncouth and ill mannered???

Very often we fail to realize how important it is for us to focus on improving the quality of our manpower....our people. So many of our problems exist not because of a shortage of laws, but simply because of the kind of people we have in our country. Till this changes, we middle class urban educated Indians will continue to remain frustrated with what can only be called “our way of life”.

Take road driving etiquette. Before swerving left or right, look into your rear view mirror. Allow old people, children and women to cross the road before you go ahead. Don’t honk unnecessarily. Stop before the zebra crossing at a red light, not over it. Don’t cut lanes. Don’t drive on the wrong side (!). Get your vehicle serviced every so many months or kms. Keep pollution down. Basically, follow the rules!

Take even more basis human mannerisms. Don’t spit on the road. Don’t litter. Apologize when you hit someone by mistake. Don’t waste office time....attend to customers instead. Be polite to people in general and customers in particular. Basically, be courteous!

Then this thing about our efficiency of working. Our people either come from a very poor gene pool or are very poorly trained. Either which way, they take far longer to perform any chore than almost any other bunch of people around the world. So a job that should take a few hours takes a few days....sometimes weeks. A friend of mine who lives in London once told me how efficient that government passport/visa service was. Form is filled online and document couriered. The job’s done in 4 days flat....with no need to contact anyone. A lot of this is to do with the quality of manpower.....not technological systems! Very often, we misunderstand this inefficiency to be corruption. It’s’s just poor quality of human resources!

Consider the way our police department works. Just watch CID on Sony TV to understand how “investigations” are done by the crime department in India. Then switch to CSI to see how they are done in the US! Agreed.....there’s a lot of exaggeration in what US serials show, but the fact remains that the most effective form of investigation in India is hammering someone into admitting to something! Forensics in India means threatening someone with a jail term (even before a judicial inquiry!) to make him admit to something! Blood samples are not what you find at the crime scene, but what you get when the cop beats someone up! Fingerprints are not extracted from the crime scene....but are planted at the crime scene! Jokes aside....the problem here is not in the laws. The problem is in the quality of people who implement the laws.

Basically, we are a nation of people that has never experienced even the basics of decent behavior; good conduct. Even though we don’t realize it, this is what strikes us first when we go to a developed country. People on the roads follow the rules. They queue up rather than try and jostle ahead. They are generally mindful of the presence of others....especially foreigners. They don’t spit or throw litter anywhere. Basic courtesy. Even if its not an economically advanced country, basic courtesy makes a huge impact on us when we travel abroad.

Our poor economic conditions make matters worse. We save wherever possible.....except that this is not genuine savings; its “cutting corners”! Did you know there is a law in India that requires that all building exteriors must be repainted every five years (so that buildings look clean)? And yet, we flout the law to save some bucks. As a result, our cities look ghastly. Likewise, there are rules on when a vehicle must be taken off the road. But again, we save the pennies by continuing to ply them way after their life has ended. As a society.....we find nothing wrong if the rules have to be broken to save a little bit for oneself. This is our “way of life”!

So we have bad manners and we are economically not well off. No wonder, we are permanently seeking ways to escape and head out to the “gora” lands whenever possible. You have to give it to the goras....they are a far more civilized society that we are (Of course....there are many goons there as well.....but I am talking of the average citizen there).

What worries me is not our present condition. This is a legacy of several hundreds (maybe thousands) of years of subjugation by the kings and the Brits, of poor education, of several other factors. This has become our style and it will take time to change. What worries me is that we haven’t yet recognized the reasons for such uncouth behavior; we’re doing nothing to improving the situation. I doubt if students in schools are taught about etiquette. In most schools....especially in those that cater to the poorer and weaker sections of society, and those in the rural areas.....the teachers themselves don’t know the meaning of etiquette. Very little progress is being made in human resource development in our country. The focus of human resource development is only on skills training. Training that helps you to do a job and earn money. Nothing wrong with that....except that maybe, in parallel, basic training on etiquette should also be provided. But it’s not even on someone’s radar at the moment.

The real truth is that this ugly behavior of our countrymen is going to stay for many decades more. Etiquettes are learnt in school. Experienced at home. And practiced everywhere. Since there is hardly any training at the moment, we cannot expect the current bunch of students to be better behaved. Assuming the next generation of students starts to learn in school.....they will still come home to parents who are uncouth. So they will probably remain uncouth themselves. Maybe their children.....that is three generations from now.....will be better behaved. And all this assumes that we start immediately and continue without stop! Net net....for the next 40-60 years, expect no change.....we will remain like this only!


  1. In Delhi, I was surprised at that Indian parents do not scold or stop kids playing & running around like monkey in the decent restaurant where middle or upper class people come. Even when kids shout suddenly and make others deaf, their parents are just sitting on their seat and enjoying chatting without caring kids as if nothing happened. Who can correct kids' misbehavior unless their parents do??? If nobody point out kids' misbehavior, I wonder how kids can grow up with understanding importance of the well-manner. I wonder how those who have never be trained manner can train their kids when they become parents.Without teaching rule when people were kids, how can they have sense of manner? How can they follow the rule. For kids, Parents are the example of rule and ethic.Unfortunately, in Indian society,other people can not scold misbehavior of stranger's kids. Otherwise, parents get angry and complain back. I think Indian parents should stop spoil their kids and be more conscious about kids' behaviors in the public and teach their kids proper behavior, like saying "As we do not spit in the house, we also can not spit in the public space because everybody use this space including us." etc.... If Parents can train properly,kids would never have ill-manner. And, this practice will continue to next generation. Teaching manner and ethic is the treasure which only parents can give to kids. Economical weakness might be the reason... however, even if country is strong and rich, there are lots of ill-mannered people in the world.